The Christian philosophy of education is based on the following premises: the nature of man and the nature of truth. The nature of man can be based upon the facts that man is a sinner (Rom. 3:23), and all men need a mediator between them and God in order to get to heaven (1 Tim. 2:5). According to Genesis 3:1-6, man fell into sin due to the temptation of Satan in the garden of Eden; because Adam sinned, all men are born sinners (Rom. 5:12). Though the outlook of the nature of man is bleak, there is hope. The nature of truth lies in one Person alone: Jesus Christ. According to John 14:6, Christ is the only way man can be saved from his sin and be accepted into heaven. God gave us the Bible as the ultimate source of truth in understanding how to be saved (Jn. 17:17). All knowledge and understanding is hid in Christ alone (Col. 2:3). Education must acknowledge that man is a sinner, and that man needs a perfect Savior, who is Jesus Christ.
The purpose of education relates to two separate entities: God and man. A Christian school should seek to honor and glorify God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31). According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Bible should be the ultimate foundation for every school’s philosophy and standards. A Christian school should seek to be in subjection to Christ and should strive to love God with its entire being (2 Cor. 10:5; Matt. 22:37). Not only should a school seek to please God, but also be a good influence on the surrounding community. God desires Christians to reach out to those around them in love (Matt. 22:39), yet not offend them in any way, so as to be blameless in testimony before the community (1 Cor. 10:32). Above all, the Christian school should take special care not to offend the Christians while serving all men the same (Gal. 6:10). Education must first of all love and honor God, and secondly, love and serve its fellow men.
The process of education involves the teacher, the student, the methods, and the materials used in the classroom. Once each of these pieces fit the proper mold that they work together to create, the process of education is complete. The goal of Christian education is godliness of character and action which requires involvement from both the student and the teacher. God reveals His truth through the teacher and the student receives it and acts upon it. The scope of education is primarily intellectual but it also encompasses the entire personality of the student (Lk. 2:52; 2 Tim. 3:17).
The teacher is the first essential piece for every classroom. Therefore, the teacher should be capable of thoroughly teaching the content and speaking truth about everything (2 Tim. 2:2; Prov. 8:6-8). Above all, the teacher models authority and service, possessing knowledge of the students, the subject, and the pedagogy (1 Cor. 4:16). The teacher’s relationship with the students is important as he motivates his students to serve Christ.
The student is the second vital piece in the classroom. Students should desire knowledge and seek to attain it because they are unique individuals created for a specific purpose in God’s plan (Prov. 2:3-5). According to 1 Corinthians 6:20, students should also strive to honor and glorify God, seeking to be properly qualified and motivated for their future lives of service. Students should not try to be like the world, but rather be like Christ, following His footsteps in every area of life (Rom. 12). In the classroom, students are active participants, honing their abilities, pursuing their interests, and gradually developing into servants for Christ.
The methods and materials used by the teacher are vital to every classroom. Most of the methods used in today’s society are amoral. However, Christian schools should use methods that focus on Christ and the betterment of others while requiring effort from the students (Phil. 2:3-5). Teachers should also use a variety of age-appropriate methods in their classroom as Christ did when he taught His followers. Content should focus on the knowledge of God and the imitation of God. Teachers must also select materials that honor Christ, are appropriate, and have Biblical, pedagogical soundness.
Teaching history includes politics, economics, geography, government, sociology, and anthropology so the selection of materials must be carefully analyzed by the teacher. History should be taught in light of the Bible, beginning with the creation account, and every history teacher should present a providential view of history. God’s character and actions are evident all throughout historical accounts. The Bible says that history was written as a warning to learn from the mistakes of the past (1 Cor. 10:11). Studying history also allows the student to have a more objective view of human events as God does, thus providing comfort and hope for the future (Rom. 15:4).
The place of education consists of three areas—the home, the church, and the Christian school—which have a key role in their relationships to society. The three places of education should together strive to present their relationships to society as those befitting a Christ-honoring atmosphere.
The home contains the key truths that parents should be teaching their children (Deut. 4:9-12). Children are given to parents by the Lord; therefore they should be raised for Him and trained according to the Bible (Ps. 127:3; Prov. 22:6).
The church expands upon the teaching children receive from their parents. Churches are commanded to teach everyone about Christ and God’s commandments as well as edify Christians through its teaching (Matt. 28:19-20; Eph. 4:11-13). Each church is made up of many different people possessing individual gifts; each person should use his talent for the Lord and thus help unify the church (1 Cor. 12). In so doing, the unified church should strive to follow Christ in all things, not the world (Rom. 12). The church evangelizes the lost and disciples its Christian members, so many times the church branches out into academic training by founding a Christian school.
The Christian school is an extension of the home and church, therefore Biblical principles should determine the philosophy and practices of the school. The school can help the home and church by continuing to teach, model, and practice Biblical life principles and actions (Eph. 5:1-5). The school also protects children in the early stages of life from society’s harmful effects (Eph. 5:15-16). Christian teachers minister to souls that will live somewhere forever, and since they are with students for up to thirty hours a week, they have a great opportunity to influence their students for eternity.
Regarding education’s effect on society, education should follow Christ and not the world (Rom. 12:1-2). Education should provide things honest always before God and man while teaching students how to do all things honestly as well (2 Cor. 8:21; 1 Thess. 4:11-12). Students should be taught to be hard workers, fulfilling all promises that they make (Rom. 12:11; Eccl. 5:4). Christians are one of the primary means this world has to hear the gospel of Christ; if they do not witness, then they are good for nothing just like salt that has lost its savor (Matt. 5:13). Therefore, Christians should shine forth with the gospel, like a city upon a hill (Matt. 5:14).
– Hannah S. Bowers
Horton, R. A. (Ed.). (1992). Christian education: Its mandate and mission. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press.
Pazmino, R. W. (2008). Foundational issues in Christian education: An introduction in evangelical perspective (3 ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
The holy Bible (KJV ed.). (2005). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Wilson, D. (2003). The case for classical Christian education. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.