Category Archives: Christian education

WSC’S Evangelium Education Issue

I was finally catching up with some of my periodicals this afternoon and among them was the Fall 2009 issue of Westminster Seminary California’s Evangelium.  This is the issue devoted to the subject of education.  It was recently criticized in Christian Renewal.  So, I picked it up expecting to encounter serious problems.  What I found was something quite different:  apart from some subtle nuances, the traditional Reformed perspective on Christian education.  In other words, the faculty at WSC is not anti-Christian education or anti-Christian schools.

As an example, consider the five convictions expressed in the lead article by Dennis Johnson.  These convictions are shared by the faculty on the basis of God’s inerrant Word:

1.  Parents are responsible to oversee their children’s whole education — both ‘religious’ and otherwise.

2.  Parents are not alone in their responsibility to nurture their children in God’s wisdom.

3.  The wisdom that our children need centers in the fear of the Lord, and then reaches out to embrace all of life.

4.  No educational enterprise is religiously neutral.

5.  Our children’s education should enable them not only to investigate God’s world, but also to engage confidently and winsomely those who do not see that ‘this is our Father’s world.’

Those sentiments are not unfamiliar to me and I can readily say “Amen!”  However, if I would make one note about what I read in Evangelium, it would be that we should aim for a closer relationship between church, home and school.  It is never desirable to have the Christian school teaching in a way that contradicts the church or the home.  The obvious way to mitigate that possibility is to have all three operating on the same confessional basis.

I conclude that the criticism expressed in Christian Renewal arose from as uncharitable a reading as one could possibly give.


PRCA Synod on Christian Schools

According to this news story (h.t. Confessional Outhouse), the synod of the Protestant Reformed Church has decided that all officebearers must send their children to Protestant Reformed schools.  The background is the dismissal of a PR minister who was homeschooling his children.  This decision raises many questions.  One of them is whether or not exceptions are made for missionaries and church planters.  Or are these officebearers expected to board out their children so that they can attend a PR school?  Or what if a PR church planter or missionary sees his work through to the point where the church is ready to be instituted?  Can he institute the church without a school to which the elders can send their children?  Of course, these questions may all be moot if church planting is not on the agenda of the Protestant Reformed.  Other questions have to do with whether or not a synod can bind its officebearers to something which has no explicit Biblical or confessional basis.  Does the Bible really teach that ministers and elders must send their children to a PR school?  Can you discipline an officebearer who does not?  Which commandment would he be breaking?  As with seminary training, I believe that Christian education has a solid biblical basis, but how that education is to be delivered is an open question that has slightly more to do with pragmatic considerations than principled ones.

UPDATE:  someone wrote me and said that apparently this PRCA decision is only applicable to those PR churches where they have an existing school.  And of course, that raise all kinds of other questions…