Wednesday, July 26, 2006

EDUCATING CHILDREN - What are we talking about? - Part 2

Now that we have a better understanding of what is meant by “proper education”, who should we look to in order to see that it gets done? Is it the states responsibility, or the federal government? What about the church? Who should see that our children receive this proper education? Well, in Deuteronomy Chapter 4 verse 9, the Bible says “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;” The Scripture is clear; we as parents and grandparents must pass on what we have learned to our children and even to our grandchildren. We are the ones whom God gives the responsibility to; we must see that it is properly carried out.

But how do we do it? What is the method for implementing a proper education? Deuteronomy Chapter 6 verses 4-9 contains the basic outline for carrying out this education process, it says:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

So according to the Bible, the process of education is something that is to be carried out at all times. Christian parents should be teaching their children early in the morning, in the middle of the day, and late at night. It is a process that is started when you get out of bed and doesn’t end until you lie down again at night. Then it starts all over again the next day and continues throughout the child’s life until he no longer lives in the home of the parent. Even after that, parents should be available to guide and direct if needed. They should also be willing to do the same for their grandchildren. Childhood education is a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week process. The only break, according to the Bible, is when they are asleep.

But to what end; why did God give Christian parents this task in the first place? A similar question was asked in the book of Malachi, in Malachi chapter 2 verses 14-15, the prophet says:

“Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.”

The answer that God gave was clear; the objective in bringing man and woman together and making them one was to produce godly offspring. In other words, God put man and woman together so that they could produce children that they could train to be godly. Offspring that would know God, know His ways, and would have a desire to serve Him. This is the original role of parents. Parents are not merely to superimpose their own ideas or opinions on to their children, but they are to transfer to their children the very thoughts and mind of God Himself as found in the Bible! This is the task that God has assigned to each and every parent. These children that He has entrusted us with are merely on loan; they are not ours to keep, they are not ours to do with as we desire; they are ours to train in the way the Lord requires; to teach them about God, to teach them His statutes and His judgments, to point them toward Christ, and this falls under the category of Christian stewardship.

So what is Christian Stewardship and how does that relate to the education of children? You may say “I thought that stewardship only pertained to how we spend our money!” Well it does, partially, but it also includes much more. While our financial responsibility is one that every Christian should take very seriously, there is much more to stewardship. As a matter of fact, in Proverbs chapter 22, the idea of avoiding debt is the subject that immediately follows that of training children. So while money management is an important part of stewardship, one that we must teach our children, the total idea of Christian stewardship covers how we manage all of the assets which God has allowed us to have for the short time that we live on the Earth. And there is no greater asset than the asset of a godly legacy that is passed on to our children through their proper education. A legacy that will live on for many generations to come, still producing fruit long after we have gone home to be with the Lord. An excellent picture of how God expects us to manage our assets, including our children can be found in the parable of the talents as seen in the book of Matthew chapter 25 verses 14-30. In the parable, there is a Land Owner, which represents God, and the Land Owner goes out of town, but leaves behind some of His possessions for His servants to manage. Those that did well with what they were given were rewarded, but those who did not, were severely punished. So we, as stewards of God, are allowed to manage God’s children for a short time, and God requires that we manage these children in the proper way; that means that we give them a proper Christian education.

So with a better understanding of these basic concepts, let us press forward with a look at education, specifically religious education, throughout history. And as we do, I’d like for us to consider where we got off course and then how to get back on track again.

Still More Later…

Grace & Peace!
Dave Scarbrough

Thursday, July 20, 2006

EDUCATING CHILDREN - What are we talking about? - Part 1

So why are we even having this discussion in the first place? Well, the primary reason is that the popular methodology of education in America today is not only ineffective, but it is also not scriptural. When entire generations of children are trained in a way that is contrary to scripture, it can only lead to problems, and this generation of Christians is not any different than any other; we are not isolated from the troubles associated with disobedience. In modern America, we are seeing problems that are affecting us in every aspect of our daily lives: family problems, health problems, morality problems, and many others. But these are just symptoms of a greater spiritual illness. But before we can understand this greater sickness, we must first have a clear understanding of all the related terms. So what exactly are we talking about?

Well, the first and primary term is education. What does it mean to be educated? The simplest modern definition of education seems to be a process where by knowledge of some subject is transferred from one individual to another. Although this definition may be sufficient in modern times, it is not one that is historically accurate or complete. Throughout history, the process of education has always been linked with the idea of discipline, chastisement, or punishment; and while it was once the case, it is no longer true today. For example, the Egyptian word for education comes from a root word which means “to chastise” or “to punish.” The Egyptian teacher’s motto was “A youngster’s ear is on his back; he only listens to the man who beats him,”1 likewise, the Hebrew word for education “musar” means “to chasten” or “to discipline.” In the New Testament, a common Greek word that was often used in relaying the thought of education is “paideia”. It too carries the idea of chastisement. So while a modern definition of education would only contain a reference to the passing of knowledge from one person to another, a more complete definition would also have to include the idea of discipline along with that passing of knowledge. But not just any knowledge, on the contrary, for real education to occur, a specific kind of knowledge must be passed on. In his book, “A Christian approach to Education”, H.W. Byrne said that “knowledge is defined as an acquaintance with, an understanding of, and a clear perception of truth.” He goes on to say that “the Biblical view of knowledge presupposes a source of all knowledge, for knowledge is dependant upon truth and truth is dependant on God.”2 So the knowledge that must be passed for any real education to occur is that knowledge that comes from God. God’s truth is the only real truth; anything else would not be education at all.

But the understanding of the substance and the process of education is only part of our goal. The real goal is to gain a complete understanding of “proper education”, and of the one who is responsible for carrying it out. Now by adding the adjective “proper” to the word education, it gives the impression that there is only one, right way to do it. One way that is better than all others. For the Christian parent, this is truly the case; there is only one way to educate our children. Like every other aspect of the Christian life, the Holy Bible is the sole source for instruction, and should be used as our guide for carrying out this mandated education process. So with this in mind, let us update our definition of proper education. Proper Christian Education is a process where by the knowledge of God, as found in the Bible, is transferred from parent to child through love and discipline as taught in Scripture. That is proper education.

More Later...

1 Charles F. Pfeiffer, Howard F. Vos, and John Rea, Wycliffe Bible Dictionary (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2001), 494.
2 H.W. Byrne, Ed. D., A Christian Approach to Education (Mott Media, 1977), 63.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A quote worth re-quoting...

"Those who are in the teaching office should teach with the greatest faithfulness and expect no other remuneration than to be killed by the world, trampled underfoot, and despised by their own... Teach purely and faithfully, and in all you do expect not glory but dishonour and contempt, not wealth but poverty, violence, prison, death, and every danger."

(Luther Works 12.220-221)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

EDUCATING CHILDREN - Whose Responsibility Is It? - Part 2

So we’ve chosen our own path, we’ve developed our own model for educational success, and now, "Houston, we have a problem!" But it is not a new problem! It is actually quite old, and it is a problem that has gone on long enough that we are finally beginning to reap the dreadful harvest of what we have sown. This same thing has occurred over and over throughout history, and because we do not look to the past for advice, we are destined to repeat its mistakes.

It all began in the garden with man’s first rebellion, and it continues today, and as with all things, one of the best examples of man’s plight can be found in the pages of Scripture. We read about it in the opening chapters of the book of Judges. This same exact thing happened to the children of Israel following the days of Joshua. The fathers and mothers of Joshua’s day had forgotten their real responsibility; they had failed to pass on the things of primary importance - the things of God. They had failed in giving God His rightful first place in everything, including their children’s education, and as a result, after they were gone, their children reaped a harvest of God’s anger. In Judges chapter 2 verses 8-12 the Bible says:

"And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger."

The same thing that happened during the days that followed the death of Joshua, and his generation, is happening all over again today in this nation. Another generation is being raised up that knows little or nothing about the Lord and even less about what He desires His people to be, and it is all because so called "Christian parents" have not fulfilled their God given responsibility. Children are not being properly educated; they have not been taught the ways of the Lord, and as a result, we are reaping a harvest of God’s anger.

In his book Christian Education for the Real World, Dr. Henry Morris stated:
"As far as the Bible is concerned, the function of transmitting truth and educating the young belongs to the home and church... As with so many other divine ordinances, however, man has sadly corrupted God's plan, especially in these latter days, until finally the educational activities of mankind, as formalized in vast systems of public education, have become a chief instrument for turning man [children] away from the truth..."

But while we cannot expect the world to follow God’s Word, we should expect Christians to do so, but as Dr. Morris put it, many have "sadly corrupted God’s plan." And because of that, I want to sound the alarm, to make the call, to wake the sleeping Christian parents, and help them turn away from the world’s way of doing things and return to God’s way, and God’s Word.

In future posts, I would like to take a serious look at these accusations, and with scripture as my guide, try to determine who is really responsible for the education of children. I want to look at how education has changed throughout history in hopes of gaining a better understanding of where it went wrong and exactly how to get it back on the right path. I also want to offer time tested, Bible based, alternatives to the current system of education, alternatives that not only honor God, but alternatives that also produce better educated students, doing so with the hope that future generations of Christian parents will return to a system of educating its children that will both honor God, and produce well educated, God fearing citizens who are willing to stand their spiritual ground and fight the good fight of faith. Children are our greatest legacy, and only with God’s help, can we leave a godly legacy! So with this as my goal, please look with me at the question of who bares the responsibility of educating our children.

God Bless!
Dave Scarbrough...