Education: State, Church, or Home? (part one)
A battle rages between home and traditional education.Â Churches say to the home-schoolers, “You don’t support the church.”Â Home-schoolers cry, “The church doesn’t help home-schoolers.”Â While many home-schoolers contend, “Home is the only Biblical way,”Â church schools argue, “It takes a church: look at the example of Jesus.”Â Public school advocates will say, “We’re missing out on a mission field; letting public school students go to the devil.”Â Since the Bible is sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17), God’s Word gives us everything we need in order to understand how He wants children educated.Â Let’s see if we can sort out what Scripture says about education:Â state, church, or home?
We Know Home
Home schoolers, you can start cheering, because we do know that Scripture teaches home-schooling.Â I’m not going to break down Deuteronomy 6:4-9 for everyone, but you know how authoritative that passageÂ is for educating your own children.Â Parents are responsible; so if they take full responsibility, that’s not just good, it’s required.Â Yet, noÂ Israelite family could practice those verses withoutÂ its involvement in theÂ congregational worship of Israel (Deuteronomy 12:11-12, 17-18; 16:10-11).Â Every Israelite home school needed the nation.Â In Deuteronomy 31:22, “Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.”Â Before dad taught his sons, he learned from the leaders of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5:31).Â Home schooling is a God-ordainedÂ means in the right context.
The Church and the Truth
The Nature of Knowledge
InÂ education there isÂ a concern with the nature of knowledge, that is, how we attain knowledge. It is common for the world to divide knowledge into two areas or types, secular and religious. The secular is the knowledge that deals with reason and the things of the world. The religious is the knowledge that deals with faith and the things of God. The secular is sometimes called philosophical, and the religious is called theological.
This twofold division was developed by Thomas Acquinas, a famous 13th century Roman Catholic so-called “theologian.”Â From his standpoint, there were two ways to arrive at knowledge–reason and revelation. He believed that both were true methods of arriving at a knowledge of God. He taught that by revelation we could know more about God, but by reason, independent of revelation, we will end in the truth. All of this is based on the Roman Catholic conception of the nature of man.
Roman Catholicism taughtÂ that from creation Adam was not quite perfect and had a tendency toward evil. To help him, God gave him a superadded gift of original righteousness called donum superadditum to assist him. In spite of the gift, Adam sinned. The result was that he lost this original righteousness–that was all the effect the fall had on him. Acquinas talked of his reason being wounded, but not in any sense that he could not reason properlyÂ or could notÂ arrive at truth independently of God. Acquinas would say the Greek philosopher Aristotle, whose philosophy forms the basis of much of Roman Catholic theology,Â arrived at the truth in many areas.
The problemÂ with this twofold division is that man was not simply “wounded” by the Fall. The Bible describes him as being blind, dead, and unable to receive or know the things of the Spirit of of God (Ephesians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4). The Scriptural picture is that he is totally depraved and totally unable to do anything good (Romans 3:10-23; 8:7-8; Jeremiah 17:9). In order to know the truth, man needs regeneration; he needs to be born again by the Spirit of God. Only then can he know the truth.
- There is only one kind of knowledge, and it is theological.
- Wisdom is from above (James 3:17).
- God created the world, and He works things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).
- Everything in the world has the meaning and interpretation which God has put into it.
- All knowledge is God-created, related, and interpreted knowledge.
- One cannot truly know anything unless he understands it in the light of his relationship with God.
- All unbelievers cannot relate knowledge to, with, or through God, soÂ theirs is limited and distorted (Romans 1:18-25).
Only when our minds are in conformity with the mind of God can we know the truth about anything. The mind of God is as He revealed it in His Word. Since man is depraved, He cannot discern or understand the truth of God’s Word–it is only spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).Â Therefore, only a believer can have real truth, for only a believer can subject his mind to the mind of God. Knowledge is a unit, and all that transpires in the history of men and of nations shows His guiding and controlling hand (Acts 17;26; Romans 13:1; Daniel 4:25). So can an unbeliever know 2+2=4?Â Yes, but it is because that is the way our God created and controls the world of His, and He is the One Who makes it so.
This view that wisdom can beÂ received onlyÂ supernaturally, through God’s intended means, is the theme of Job 28, a good chapter to study to get your belief about the source of knowledge.Â John Gill spends time fleshing out the meaning of that chapter, and begins just his dealing with verse twelve:
Though there is a vein for silver, a track where that lies, and is to be come at, and a place where gold is found, and where it may be refined, and parts of the earth, out of which brass and iron, and bread corn, may be produced, and even from whence may be fetched brilliant gems and precious stones; which, though attended with many difficulties, in cutting through rocks, draining rivers, and restraining the waters, yet are got over through the art and skill, industry, diligence, and labour of men; so that their eyes behold every precious thing their minds desire, and they bring to light what have been laid up in darkness from the creation of the world: but, though these things may be found by search and labour, the question is, what vein is there for wisdom, or where is the place in which that may be found? by which may be meant the wisdom of God, as a perfection in him; which, though displayed in some measure in the works of creation and providence, yet not completely, and especially in his dealings with the children of men; in all which there is undoubtedly the wisdom of God; yet it is such a depth as is unfathomable by mortals:
No one should attempt a biblical philosophy of education without an intense exegesis of Job 28, which reveals the divine character of genuine knowledge and truth.
The Place of the Church in Knowledge and Truth
Authoritative education requires authoritative content.Â If we teach well, but teach the wrong thing, it’s still wrong, no matter how well students learned it.Â The truth is the content for education, as opposed to lies.Â Lies are the purview ofÂ Satan and the world (John 8:44; 16:11).Â God’s way isÂ the truth (John 14:6; 17:17).
The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), not one dad and his family.Â We can’t teach the truth outside of the context of the church.Â The whole New Testament is practiced in and through the church.Â The Holy Spirit guides through the church (1 Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 4:1-7).Â Agreement among church members is how God will judge the world (1 Corinthians 6).Â Ultimate obedience to Christ, the Great Commission, occurs corporately through the church (Matthew 28:18-20).Â The model of Christ is fulfilled through His body, not any one individual (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12).Â The one who concludes otherwise, thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think (Romans 12:3).
When Jesus began teaching followers, He did not take a group of fathers and tell them to train their children.Â He took an assemblyÂ of disciples and taught them together.Â The Lord should be teaching everyone, and He can through His church.Â His leaders, perhaps the better students, He gave more personal attention than others.Â Whatever training the mother of James and John was giving her sons (Matthew 20:18-20), she needed the perspective of Jesus to get it right.Â Jesus is the head of the body (Colossians 1:18).Â The man that properly leads his familyÂ obtains his headship from the leadership of Jesus Christ in the church (1 Corinthians 11:3).Â No one possesses the fulness of the body of Christ, only a measure of that fulness, so every other body part needs the working of the other body parts to receive that fulness.Â Everyone’s children need more thanÂ their parents to receive the full measure of the body of Christ.Â Every home school should be a church school.
(to be continued)