In Scotland today (and in much of Western Society), we see a very clear and rapid acceleration away from our Christian heritage with ideologies, policies, and legislation that contradicts what we see in Scripture. This is undeniably the case with regard to education. Scientific theories are presented as facts that allegedly disprove the teaching of Scripture. Attitudes towards sex and sexuality not only attack Scripture but are indoctrinating children in an alarming way and of an increasingly younger age. Discipline, morality, and attitudes towards the family are increasingly hostile towards the teachings of Scripture. Is this reason for the establishment of Christian schools? Is this why parents should home educate?
Many ‘concerned’ Christian parents have likely started to explore this issue due to state education problems. Still, there is much more to this topic than simply ‘doing something more Christian’ in a reactionary manner. Alternatively, there are crucial questions that all Christians, especially parents, should be asking. “What does the Bible teach on this matter? Should my child’s education be overtly ‘Christian’? How can the teachings of Scripture be applied in my context?”
Thus, we ask, “What does the Bible teach about education?” To be clear, what we mean by education is not simply developing intellect through knowledge and facts but also developing a person’s moral values and understanding. Thus, we seek clarity from the Scriptures, and we find that instructions that are given regarding a child’s upbringing and education are given to parents. Two of the most significant verses/passages are the following:
Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In Ephesians 6:4, Paul uses the word ἐκτρέφετε (bring them up), and this term literally means to ‘take out from’ in order to feed and nourish. There is an emphasis in this verse that the child is to be brought up in an environment and culture that is different and set apart from this world. This is built upon the foundation of a world value of absolute truth from the Scriptures. The passage in Deuteronomy is thus all the more striking because the command to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength is followed with a command to teach this to your children literally in all areas of their upbringing.
Therefore, should the education of Christian parents’ children be overtly Christian? In response, it is clear that parents are instructed to bring up their children to love God and keep His commands. There are not explicit commands in Scripture about formal education, but the guidelines for how children are brought up infer something that adheres to Scripture and, thus, a Biblical worldview.
There are practical considerations and different conclusions drawn to the family. Still, we must be clear that much of what is encouraged and embraced in our culture regarding education is a direct contradiction to God’s Word. For instance, Scripture does not create a child-led dynamic in which the parents ‘leave it up to the child to decide’. Salvation belongs to the Lord, and the blessing of a ‘Christian upbringing’ is a significant part of the testimony of God’s saving grace in the life of many a born-again believer. Therefore, for parents sending their children to any school, Christian, or state, it is Biblical that they are engaged with what is being taught as part of the child’s development and growth.
As a result, if parents are having to ‘unteach’ what is being taught in state schools due to it contradicting Scripture, then this is something that requires careful consideration and thought. The startling reality is that most parents are not deliberately seeking to disobey Scripture. However, this is an issue that is generally not taught about and studied and possibly why the majority of children brought up in ‘Christian homes’ in the Western world have abandoned the Christian faith entirely by the time they are adults.
We must then ask one final question. “What should Christian parents do? How can this teaching be applied to individual contexts?” These are two questions I have grappled significantly with in recent months, as I am a father of two young children, aged 3 and 6 months. As a Christian parent and as a pastor, I would therefore fully support Christian parents who look to home educate in a manner that adheres to their Biblical values and convictions.
It is also why I am passionate about seeing Christian schools rising up throughout our land. In my home city of Aberdeen, Scotland, I have been working alongside a small team of people who have formed a board for a Christian school in partnership with Melville-Knox Christian Schools in Scotland (for more information, go to ‘melville-knox.org.uk’). Scotland has been blessed with a history rooted in Scripture, where education had been more clearly aligned with God’s Word. Those times are now long gone. I would therefore strongly urge all Christian parents, and Christians as a whole, to prayerfully consider the implications of sending your children to state education.
However, I have been asked about the potential financial implications or the extra practical hassle of transporting their children and other related issues to sending their children to a Christian school. Are these legitimate concerns? Of course, they are. In response, I say very clearly; it will be more difficult. This is why the Lord Jesus said in Mark 8:34:
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
The Lord Jesus prepares us for difficulty. The figurative language of a cross denotes difficulty, suffering, and humiliation, and so in an increasingly godless culture, we must expect difficulty in order to obey God’s Word. Can we then justify not seeking the best and most Biblical education for our children on the basis that it will be costly? Christianity is costly. Our very faith is rooted in our Savior, who was nailed to the cross for the salvation of His people. When we come before the Lord in repentance, we deny our old sinful selves and the desires of our flesh, and we now seek Him as our Savior, we submit to Him as our Lord, and so we take up a cross knowing that one day we will be given a crown. This is the glorious example that I pray we will set for our children and that a generation will rise up that knows the Scriptures, sees a strong Biblical worldview being taught and lived out by parents and teachers alike, and where such a generation will be saved and used mightily for God’s Glory and the advance of His Kingdom in this broken and fallen world.
JOHN-WILLIAM NOBLE is Pastor of Grace Baptist Church Aberdeen, which he planted in 2019. He holds a Bachelor of Divinity degree at the University of Aberdeen and is the secretary of Melville-Knox Christian School Aberdeen. John-William is also the author of two books, The Basics of Christianity (2016) and Biblical Marriage: Two Sinners and a Gracious God. John-William and his wife, Binglin, have two young children, Amos and Endian.