Today I read an article responding to a man who claimed that education can be neutral—that there can be no such thing as a distinctly “Christian” education. Poppycock. Now, I do have a dog in the fight. Two dogs, in fact: the diploma I’ve earned and the diploma I’m working for. With that in mind, I will attempt to address this issue in an unbiased manner.
In that spirit, let me say “poppycock” again. Part of the gentleman in question’s argument, is that facts are facts whether you’re Christian or not. To which I reply, yes, and because Christianity is true, the facts are Christian. We either live in a world where Christ—God himself—became man, died for our sins, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will return to judge the living and the dead, or we do not. If we live in such a world, it changes everything from the meaning of life on down. Including education.
How ‘bout some specifics? I’ll start with an easy one. History. If Christ came, then that is the most important point in history. If his Word is truth, then we have to judge every civilization he mentions in the Bible the same way he judged them. If this world is the story of Jesus coming to claim and glorify his Bride, then that is the way we must tell it.
What of science? Another easy one. If the Bible is the Word of God, and if we’re being honest, then the better part of modern biology, archaeology, paleontology, some physics, and a good bit of the rest of the ‘ologies, need to be scrapped. Carefully, discerningly, lovingly scrapped. Is that scary? Good. That’s Christianity for you.
Civics. Was man endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable rights? How do we reconcile “honor the king” with David running from Saul with a merry band of outlaws? Literature. Is it true to life? Is it good? By whose standards? Is it beautiful? The beauty of the cross, of fluffy bunnies, or of bloody grit? Music. Is there an inherent order in the way God crafted sound? Math. What does its very existence say about logical order in the universe? PE. What is its purpose? How should we deal with boys and girls on the playground? The same? Differently? Separately?
Beyond this, every education instills some sort of morality. If you are Christian, it will be Christian morality. If not, then it will be another morality.
And you can’t escape this by trying to avoid touchy subjects. (Imagine trying to leave out everything I just mentioned and still calling it education.) You teach as much by what you leave out as what you bring in. By not talking about Jesus, you say he isn’t strictly necessary. By avoiding the issue of how our faith relates to society, you teach that it doesn’t. At least, not in any significant way. By refusing to teach morality, you give children the right to craft their own. And, speaking as a Christian, let fallen man create his own morality and we’re in some hot water.
In all this, you may have noticed an implied conclusion. If every part of life belongs to Christ, if there is no neutrality, then we relate to non-Christians across battlefronts. After all, there is no part of our lives we can share without either butting worldviews or abandoning the faith for a moment.
This is true. Amos 3:3 says “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The principle of unequal yoking applies to more than just marriage. Our every act is a stand taken, and over time you will either stand together, or you will stand apart. There is no middle ground, and straddling the fence has some uncomfortable side effects.
What this does not mean, however, is that you cannot be friendly to unbeliever. It does not mean you can have no affection for them. In fact, following in the footsteps of Christ, rather than preventing you from loving them, commands that you do sp. But, as someone once said with very different intentions in a very different context, love is war. You are fighting for someone’s soul. If you love them, you will fight to bring that soul to Christ. And, as Paul said, it is not against flesh and blood that we war, it is against spiritual forces. It is the bonds of sin and death that keep men enslaved. Ours is a war of emancipation.
To review, there is no neutrality. Not in education, and not anywhere else. To quote that imminent authority Bugs Bunny, “This means war!” But it is a war fought in love. And for that, I offer this. These men won a soul for Christ not by having the best arguments, or the most beautiful art, or a killer education system. They won him over by being Christ towards a man who was lost. We can all learn from their example.
Happy Maundy Thursday.