Guest article by Mark Kennedy, ACSI Canada
Do you ever wonder why so many North American Christians ‘don’t get it’ about Christian schooling - why some of the people who should be happiest about Christ’s advent in the realm of education treat Christian schools as unwanted interlopers or even as threats. That kind of spiritual paradox isn’t new. Matthew 2:3 recounts Herod’s reaction to the Messiah’s birth in his kingdom: “He was disturbed”. That’s not a surprise really. History tells us Herod sold out his Jewish heritage for the power, prestige and plunder that complicity with the Roman Empire brought. His lifestyle and privileged position were endangered by “the one who has been born King of the Jews.” But the really troubling statement doesn’t have much to do with Herod. Not only was he disturbed “but all Jerusalem with him.” Now that’s kind of shocking. You’d think the citizens of Jerusalem, the centre of the Jewish religion, would be overjoyed at the news, but they weren’t. In religion or education or any other area of life, the coming of the living Christ is a threat to those who embrace the status quo.
- He’s a threat to people who assume current secular education is the same as it was in those rosy days of yore when ‘public schools’ meant ‘protestant schools’.
- He’s a threat to those who bought into the myth of a neutral education. A school system that doesn’t permit children to learn about him isn’t neutral. It shuts out the most important realities about life and learning.
- He’s a threat to people who believe that the primary purpose of life, even for children, is evangelism. Jesus gave us a different priority. He said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. Evangelism is only one result of obeying that commandment.
- He’s a threat to those who believe that reality is broken into religious truth and secular truth. Fact is there’s only one kind of truth. And either it’s all God’s truth or none of it is.
- He’s a threat to people who dismiss Christian education because they know of a Christian school that operates badly. I know of a few churches that don’t do a very good job at their ministry. But that doesn’t give me an excuse to spend my Sunday mornings at the Loyal Order of Water Buffalos Lodge. That’s because a Christian school, like a Christian church, is meant to be a place to meet Christ and grow in Him. And believers need to support churches and schools that still do that.
- He’s a threat to people who think that a couple hours of Christian training a week can equip a child against the influences of 30 plus hours of weekly secular education, many more hours of anti faith media and an increasingly complex anti Christian society.
- He’s a threat to people who believe that Christianity is only about a transformed heart. In Romans 12 Paul tells us not to be conformed to the patterns (i.e. way of thinking) of the world but be transformed by the renewal of our minds. E. Stanley Jones expressed it well, “A Christianity that addresses the heart but not the mind will not long hold the heart.” Christian schools help transform minds by teaching a biblical worldview.
- He’s a threat to people who think that teaching about the Creator of all truth and His creation is somehow sheltering students from reality.
The Academy Award winning movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, tells the Second World War story of British soldiers in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In order to alleviate the extreme suffering of his men, the senior British officer, Colonel Nicholson, agrees to build a bridge for his Japanese captors. And with its construction conditions for the British captives improve. The bridge becomes a source of pride especially for Colonel Nicholson. After all he and his men have invested their lives in it. Then one day he is shocked to find a stranger, a British commando, planting explosives in order to blow the bridge up! He is emotionally torn. Should he warn the Japanese about this threat to ‘his’ bridge? In the end he come to his senses and realizes that even though his men built the bridge it belongs to Japan, and above all else he and the commando are on the same side fighting a common enemy.
Christians built the public educational systems in North America and they built them well. But now it is clear that those systems are no longer Christian in any sense. Let’s hope that more believers will come to realize that the educational status quo is fatally flawed, that Jesus’ advent in the realm of education is not a threat and that Christian schools are on their side.