How does a school give a Christian worldview to every student?
Fundamental to this endeavor is good teaching that presents a clear, Christian perspective. To provide a broad, scriptural foundation in the mind of the student from their earliest years, proper use of Christian curricula and application of biblical truth to curricula in all subjects is required. Development of the Christian worldview is vital both to the spiritual well-being of the student, and to his or her development as a person.
One of the primary differences between Christian and public education is the choice of curricula. The so called ‘separation of church and state’ has necessitated that public schools move away from curricula that acknowledges the truth of the Christian faith or its impact on American life. Even the morals associated with America’s religious heritage are regularly denied in our public textbooks, being replaced instead with moral relativism, religious pluralism, globalism, and the deification of tolerance. (The tolerance of everything except traditional Christianity, that is.)
In contrast to the secular curricula used in public education, Christian schools teach ideas that rest on God’s Word as the ultimate source of truth. Teaching and textbooks integrate understanding of the scriptures into every subject.
Science includes discussion on the theories of origin but acknowledges God as the Creator and helps students look for His order in the natural world.
History, good and bad, is taught from the perspective of human sinfulness and Divine sovereignty and grace.
Reading/English classes include biographies of renowned Christians, teaching morals along with better reading skills.
Physical Education emphasizes Christ-likeness and character development.
Even classes like Math, which may not always have an immediate scriptural application, are opportunities for students to practice diligence and self-discipline and see that behind everything, God created a universe with order and purpose.
Every class is an opportunity to teach the student about Christ and their purpose in the world.
The clearest contrast between Christian and public education is the Christian inclusion of Bible classes in the curriculum. Not only is the Bible fascinating history, peerless literature, and the single most influential book in the development of Western Society, to the Christian, it is the manifesto for daily living.
Christian schools generally reflect, in some way, the mission that we have at Parkway Christian Academy, Roanoke – where I teach. Our mission is to prepare our students for college, career, and Christ. Preparing them for Christ involves both offering them a personal salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping them to grow into mature Christian adults. Central to this maturing process is a thorough understanding and application of the scriptures to one’s life. Therefore we require all students to study the Bible every year they are at PCA.
Good Bible education seeks to match Bible lessons to the cognitive development of the child. During their earliest years (K-4th grade), when the students are only capable of understanding concrete concepts, study focuses on Bible stories and characters. Students learn about the principle heroes of the Bible and how they served God. Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the Lion’s Den would be some of the Old Testament lessons. From the New Testament students learn about Peter and the Storm, Saul on the Road to Damascus, Paul and Silas in Prison, and of course, the life of Jesus Christ.
“Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Early focus on the Biblical narratives serves two purposes; it forms the foundation for more advanced study of the scriptures, and it begins to shape the child’s values. The heroes of the Bible exemplify faithfulness, courage, honesty, and self-sacrifice. As children learn to embrace these heroes as their own, they naturally desire to emulate them. While our culture offers heroes who are talented athletes, gifted musicians, and buffoonish cartoon characters, Christian schools also offer students Biblical heroes. The ultimate goal is that the child would learn early to love and imitate Christ.
As students get older (5th-10th grade), Bible classes, like all subject matter, broaden in scope to match the developing cognitive abilities of the students. The scriptures are typically taught in a more systematic way, covering the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the remaining New Testament books. As the students’ overall knowledge of the Bible grows, core Christian doctrines like sin, salvation, grace, heaven, and hell are explored. The goal of this stage of biblical instruction is to inform the student about what the Bible teaches and how to apply it to their life.
“Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:22)
Alongside a systematic teaching of the Bible, the student needs to be given opportunity to become a doer of the word through serving others at school, home, church, their community and perhaps even other places in the world. Through discovering and using their gifts and talents in Christian service, students learn what they must do to become heroes of the faith themselves.
The final two years of High School are typically used to synthesize everything the student has learned about the Bible and Christianity into a cohesive Christian Worldview. Up to this point the student has learned how a Christian lives and what a Christian believes. This synthesis should inspire the student to embrace their Christian faith as blossoming adults by learning why Christians believe what we believe. As they enter the intense questioning stage of middle adolescence, students should be encouraged to critically examine and question the faith which has been presented to them by their family, church, and Christian school.
This questioning is best pursued by contrasting various world religions and worldviews with Christianity. ‘Understanding the Times’, a resource published by Summit Ministries, is a very useful curriculum tool. This text compares Christianity to Islam, Secular Humanism, Marxism, and Postmodernism, and other worldviews. These belief systems are compared over a wide range of topics, such as theology, ethics, politics, and economics. Students are presented with the beliefs of the various worldviews and encouraged to ask hard questions. Extensive evidence is then provided that the Biblical/Christian approach to each of these topics is the most truthful and practical.
“Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who through practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14)
The discernment of good from evil, right from wrong, or Christian from non-Christian can oftentimes be difficult. However, for today’s high-school graduates it is vital, particularly if they intend on continuing their education at a secular university. Consider this quote by Richard Rorty, influential postmodern thinker and former Professor of Humanities at University of Virginia and later an esteemed Professor of Philosophy at Princeton:
“The fundamentalist (Christian) parents of our fundamentalist (Christian) students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. These parents have a point. When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of (humanistic) secularization. Rather, I think the students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent teaching of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents.”[i]
Many of our graduating students will go off to college for further career training under the tutelage of professors who consider you (parents and Christian teachers) to be frightening, vicious, and dangerous! It is no wonder that so many Christian young people stray from their faith during their college years, only to return with heartaches and the scars of sin.
It is absolutely vital that our children develop a Christian worldview and understand why they believe what they believe. This will help them stand in the face of attacks they will most certainly face in college and in life. It will arm them with the knowledge they need to live their faith in a way that honors God and impacts their community and the world. Robert B. Brandon, Rorty and His Critics (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), p 21-22.