Education: The Forgotten Key to Discipleship

The following is an excerpt from pastor Baucham’s upcoming book, Family Driven Faith.

In a seemingly obscure New Testament passage of scripture, Jesus says some of the most profound words concerning education and discipleship in the entire Bible.  Luke records his words in his gospel:  “A student is not above his teacher, but when he is fully trained, he will be like his teacher.”  This raises one of the most important questions any Christian parent will face concerning the discipleship of our children.  Whom will your children resemble at the completion of their “formal” education?   

Education and the Knowledge of God

Before you run off screaming, “Another homeschool dad trying to convince us all to do what he does,” let me assure you of a couple of things.  First, I would never suggest that everyone should educate his or her children the same way we educate ours.  Second, I don’t want to make it that easy.  I want you to think about what the Bible has to say on the subject and wrestle with the decision you have to make.  That being said, lets look at some key biblical passages and their implications.

Proverbs 1:7 is foundational to our discussion.  Solomon tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (cf. Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10; 15:33; Ecclesiastes 12:13).”  In other words, our educational choice has to be based on the fact that God cannot and must not be ignored , usurped, or misrepresented in the process.  Any educational system that denies the existence, preeminence, and primacy of God is in violation of this biblical principle and is detracting from, rather than contributing to the discipleship process.  This alone should eliminate government education as an option.  However, this is just the beginning. 

Education and the Great Commission

Many object to homeschooling or private Christian education based on the fact that God has called us to be “Salt and Light” and evangelize the world.  Thus, they argue, it is incumbent upon us to send our children into government schools in order to ‘make a difference’ in the lives of other students.  There are at least three major problems with this line of reasoning.  First, it misrepresents Jesus’ teaching.  Ironically, the “Salt and Light” command is precisely why we chose homeschooling.  I believe home education is the most distinctive (city on a hill) choice we can make.  It is also the best way to preserve (salt) biblical foundations that have all but eroded in our Nation’s schools.

The second problem with this line of reasoning is that it ignores the main thrust of the Great Commission.  The Great Commission states:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I commanded you…” How is this possible apart from Christian education?  How can I “make disciples” of my children if I send them off to the Government school 45-50 hours per week?  How can I teach them to obey all that Jesus has commanded in if I send them off to an institution that is anti-Christian by federal mandate?  

Finally, our children cannot “evangelize” our government schools if they don’t know what they believe and why they believe it.  All of the evidence currently points to the fact that our children are the evangelized, not the evangelists in our Nation’s schools.  They are the ones being carried away by every wind of doctrine.  The Nehemiah Institute, The National Study of Youth and Religion, and the Barna Report have shown us clearly that our children do not even understand –let alone obey—all that the Lord has commanded.  

Interestingly, the very passage that contains Jesus’ teaching on “Salt and Light” also contains clear teaching on the aforementioned issue of children being led astray.  If you continue reading in Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus says,   

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (emphasis added)

Thus, the same passage used to call home education into question for not being “Salt and Light” makes it clear that Jesus’ admonition could not possibly include anything that would contradict biblical truth.   

Education and Worldview Development

One of the clearest issues in the education debate is the question of worldview development.  The Nehemiah Institute continues to demonstrate year after year that Christian children in government schools who actually retain anything close to a biblical worldview are the rare exception and not the rule.  This makes even more sense when measured against scripture:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2).

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Col. 2:8).

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith (1 Tim. 6:20; 21).

Clearly, believers are to avoid unnecessary exposure to worldview influences that would contradict and/or undermine biblical truth.  Again, any educational choice we make must take this biblical principle into account.  Imagine a Christian family sending their child to a Muslim school.  Unthinkable, you say?  But why?  They could be “Salt and Light” there. They could influence other students. They may even get a better academic education.  They certainly would not be exposed to the same levels of immorality.  However, this would be unthinkable because of the contradictory worldview with which our children would be inundated.  If we can see this, we can certainly see the problem with a school system mired in Secular Humanism, evolution, Social Darwinism and the like. 

Education and Morality

Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as amoral  or value-neutral education.  All education teaches and shapes morality.  It is impossible to separate ones view of God, man, truth, knowledge and ethics from the educational process.  Every day our children sit behind a desk, they are either being taught to know, love and obey God, or they are being taught to love and obey someone or something else that is attempting to usurp God’s authority and role.  

If you think your child is above such influence, think again.  The Bible clearly warns believers about the dangers of association with immoral influences:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians. 15:33).

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14,15)?

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-3).    

Psalm 1 has to be one of the most poignant passages in the entire Bible in terms of the evaluation of immoral influences.  If this text is to be believed, we must not allow our children to stand, sit or walk with those who deny biblical truth and morality.  Instead, we must place them in situations that will aid them in meditating on the law of the Lord “day and night.”  Surely this involves how and where they are to be educated.

 Education and Accountability

 Ultimately, while I wish every believer could experience the rich reward of educating their children at home, I know that will not always be the case.  However, I want to make one point clear.  We can no longer coast along and ignore biblical truth when deciding where and how to educate our children.  The Bible is not silent on this issue.  We will be held accountable for our obedience or disobedience to the Bible’s teaching in this regard.  We must do everything in our power to place our child in an educational environment that  facilitates their discipleship.  We must do everything in our power to avoid the influence of government schools, which are incapable of bringing our children up in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).”  

Let me be clear; I applaud men and women whom God has called to teach in government schools.  These people are front-line warriors and many of them need to be right where they are.  However, there is a big difference between sending “fully trained” disciples into enemy territory and sending our recruits to our enemy’s training camp.  If we do the latter, we shouldn’t be surprised when our children come home wearing the enemy’s uniform and charging the hill of our home while waving an enemy flag.

VB