Purpose of Education
by Stanley Jebb
from the printed lecture The Importance of Christian Education,
(2002), by Stanley Jebb
Reproduced with permission
What is education for?
Surely it is to prepare children for life.
And how can a secular education that leaves God and the Bible out
adequately prepare for life? John
Robbins expresses this point well:
“’The end of learning,’ wrote John Milton, ‘is to repair the
ruin of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of
that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him…’
If this be so – and the Bible says it is so – then the aims
of education in America [and Britain] are all wrong. The purpose
Is not to enable the student to
earn a good income,
Is not to preserve our American
[British] style of government and political freedom,
Is not world unification,
Is not to teach young people a
Is not to encourage the
never-ending search for truth,
Is not to put the student in
harmony with the cosmos,
Is not to raise the consciousness
of students and train them for world revolution,
Is not to prepare students for
Is not to integrate the races,
Is not the social adjustment of
Is not to stay ahead of the
Russian (or the Japanese) in technology,
Is not to create good citizens.
No, the purpose of education is far different, far
more noble than any of these things.
The purpose of education is to make Christian men [and women],
men [and women] transformed by the renewing of their minds after the
image of Him who created them” [From the
Foreword by John W. Robbins, to A Christian Philosophy of Education by
Gordon H. Clark, The
P.O. Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692,
Tel: 423 743 2005].
Bible teaches that for a Christian, life is not divided into the secular
and the sacred. It is not up to the home and church to train the child
in ‘spiritual’ matters while the school teaches him ‘secular’
subjects. Such a dualistic
approach often leads to conflicts and frustrations in the mind of the
child when he hears one philosophy at home and another at school. ‘The
teacher says,’ or ‘the coach says,’ carries much weight in the
mind of the child. The home and church and the school should all be
moving in the same direction with the same philosophy and goals. … The
school which your children attend should be an extension of the training
program of your home – not of the state or federal government.
Please keep in mind that the Christian school is not to take the place
of the home. The Christian school is designed to help parents fulfil
their Christian responsibility ‘to train up a child in the way he
should go’” [Paul Kienel, The Christian School, p.62 (our
emphases - Bayith)].
Necessity of Christian Education
Scriptures teach that the Lord brought into being three institutions:
the family, the state, and the church. While He commanded parents to
teach their children, and gave teaching as a ministry to the church,
nowhere does the Bible tell us that God gave the responsibility for
teaching children to the state.
us consider some salient Scripture passages:
6:4-7: "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
is a key passage not only because it contains the "first and great
commandment" but also because it lays a solemn responsibility upon
parents to teach their children.
may be argued that this refers only to religious teaching (or that it
is only 'Old' Testament - Bayith), but let us consider another
6:4: "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but
bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord".
"bringing children up in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord" refer only to religious instruction? Or does it relate
to the whole of life? Remember that "The earth is the Lord's
and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein",
and it is in "all things" that He is to "have the
Perks writes: “As
Christian parents we are commanded to train up our children in the
nurture and admonition of the Lord, that is to train them in godly
discipline by means of godly learning. How can this be done if our
children receive ungodly learning in state and pagan schools? Ungodly
learning produces discipline in terms of ungodly principles. To subject
our children to ungodly learning is to subject them to ungodly
discipline, and thereby to train them up to be pagans under a pagan
discipline. Such an education is a total reversal of the biblical
pattern of education” [Stephen Parks, The Christian Philosophy of
Education Explained, Whitby, Avant Books, 1992, p80. Available
from the Kuyper Foundation, www.kuyper.org].
we do not take seriously enough our next Scripture passage:
12:1-2: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable
unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed
to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that
ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God".
Phillips has famously translated "be
not conformed to this world" as "don't let the world squeeze
you into its mould".
so often we do allow the world to squeeze us into its mould. And
so consciously, or more often unconsciously, some Christians come to
hold the presuppositions of the world, accept the values of the world,
believe the doctrines of the world, act according to the philosophies of
the world, and even mimic the behaviour of the world.
22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
that include only religious teaching? Does it not include our
whole lifestyle, our manners, our behaviour, as well as our beliefs?
Corinthians 10:3-5: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of
passages of Scripture teach us that we are engaged in warfare, spiritual
warfare, a war of ideas. It is a real war, not an imaginary
one. We must never forget this fact.
Howard Hendricks writes: "Christian education is not an option, it
is an order; it is not a luxury, it is a life. It is not something
nice to have, it is something necessary to have. It is not a part
of the work of the church, it is the work of the church. It is not
extraneous, it is essential. It is our obligation, not merely an
option" [Dr. Howard Hendricks, Professor of Christian Education,
Dallas Theological Seminary, cited in Christian Education: Foundations
for the Future, by Clark, Johnson, Sloat (eds.), Moody Press, p11].
does not stand still. As our children get older they are absorbing
alien ideas. Every day they are being influenced through
television, films, video recordings, newspapers, magazines, and their
a person is being slowly poisoned, how long do you wait before cutting
off the poison, or at the very least, providing a powerful
antidote? Moreover, many, many children are profoundly unhappy in
school. Why is that? Is that right? But all the home-taoght
children I have met are very happy with their system of education.
of the strongest words our Lord ever used were directed at those who
cause little ones to stumble - "...But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the
sea" (Matt. 18:6; cf Luke 17:1,2).
Wayne Grudem makes the following points:
All of a child’s education should be Bible-centred and God-centred.
we give our children ‘training and instruction’ that excludes
God’s words 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for 12 formative years, can
we honestly say we have continually brought up our children in
instruction that is ‘of the Lord’? ... Every part of the day should
be 'educational' from a Biblical perspective.
Can we then
exclude the most important learning times for 12 years of a child's life
and say these should be 'secular', empty of Biblical teachings?
Could Moses have said, "Talk of God's words all day long - except
when your children are being educated"? No, I am convinced he
Education should be positive and truthful.
parents think that a secular environment will 'strengthen' their
children by forcing them to stand up for their beliefs. But God’s
Word does not endorse that viewpoint. It does not say, “Give a child twelve years of training in the way
he should not go, and he will be made strong by it". I know
of no verse in scripture that tells me that secular training will
'strengthen' Christian children. (Or that our precious God-given
children are to be daily immersed in humanistic, evolutionist,
multi-faith, neo-pagan instruction in order that they can witness the
gospel to their unsaved peers - Bayith.) It may callous
them so they view sin as more 'normal'. It may harden them so they
care more about the things of the world and less about God. It may
desensitise them so they are more comfortable living in the midst of
repeated sin against their Lord. But it will not strengthen them
as Christian men and women.
Peer influence should be positive and Christlike.
sometimes think it helps or strengthens their children to spend much
time with children who have different moral standards and goals for
life. But God’s
Word disagrees and reminds us that children will tend to become more and more like
their frequent companions: "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be
destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20) and "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good
manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Every teacher’s pattern of life should be worthy of imitation.
a re great imitators. A teacher they like will have tremendous
impact not only on studies, but on attitudes toward all aspects of
do you want your children to be like a teacher who is never able to
apply principles from God’s Word to the subject being taught, or the
real life situation being faced? ... I realise that there are
many excellent Christian teachers in public [State] schools. ... But ...
we seldom realise how little freedom Christian teachers have to teach
Biblical moral standards (such as the Ten Commandments) or even belief
in God generally in the classroom.
Only God-centred education gives true wisdom.
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of
wisdom" (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10) and "In whom [Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
This is the reason our secular educational systems have strayed
from the truth. Isn't it foolish to think we can get a
true perspective on God's creation from a system that begins by
excluding His words?
Christian schooling is the best hope for transforming society.
is where we learn to think. It’s
where we learn how to work and relate to others and influence the world.
But if that whole process excludes God’s own viewpoint in Scripture
for twelve years, our Christian witness grows accustomed to being mute,
and it remains uneducated, never growing beyond the ‘Sunday School’
Christian parents sometimes say they want their children to be 'salt and
light' in secular school. But how much salt and light can
untrained, silent Christians be? [Extracted from the leaflet,
Biblical Reasons for Sending Children to a Christian School, by Wayne
Grudem, PHD, Professor of Theology and Bible, Phoenix Seminary, USA].
Bayly writes: "As Christian parents we believe that each child of
ours is a divinely created and inseparable combination of spirit, soul,
and body. When we bundle a child into his coat and rubbers and
send him off to school in the morning, we are handing over a total
person who will be influenced by a teacher in all areas of his life
before he returns home in the afternoon. It is imperative that the
influence upon that child's total person be in keeping with our heavenly
Father's view of life and the world ... It is impossible for us to
prevent our children from being spiritually affected for better or worse
during hours of classroom exposure while they are away from home.
Will our children be disciplined at school on the basis of the Bible and
prayer, as is the case at home? Or will discipline be on some
other basis? What motives will the teacher appeal to in guiding
our children? In a Christian school we know that there will be one
motive: 'Do all to the glory of God'" [Joseph Bayly, The Basis
for a Christian School, p1f].
Purpose of Education
is not just about getting a few GCSEs, going to university, and starting
a career, commendable though these aims may be. Education is for
life, and fro the Christian, this means a God-glorifying life, a life of
sanctified service of God and man.
Gresham Machan wrote: "A truly Christian education is possible only
when Christian conviction underlies not a part, but all of the
curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in
hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life ... I can see little
consistency in a type of Christian activity which preaches the gospel on
street corners and at the ends of the earth, but neglects the children
by abandoning them to a cold and unbelieving secularism" [cited
in David B. Cummings (ed), The Basis for a Christian School,
Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company,
is a vital and urgent matter. There is nothing more important than
the spiritual welfare of our children.
of the booklet
The Importance of Christian Education
can be obtained
from the Author at:
19 Bos Noweth, Probus, Truro, Cornwall, TR2 4HE, UK
£1.85 incl. P+P (UK only)