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Christ-less State education in Northern Ireland
Introduction: “What is Christian Education?”
Christian Education is the application of the creed “Jesus is Lord” to the realm of education. A Christian education, far from being a narrow concern with “religion” or traditional morality is as wide as the whole created realm. A Christian education turns to Christ’s word for its aims, its models of funding, its accreditation and its methodologies. A truly Christian education acknowledges the conflict between Christ and his enemies and, rejecting all compromise, seeks the victory of Christ over every thought. Truly Christian education is an integral part of the great commission and utterly essential to the survival of the Christian Church. The absence of self-consciously Christian education in the U.K. and Europe, and presence of ungodly, anti-Christian teaching has led, perhaps more than any other single factor, to the almost complete de-christianisation of the Western world. Only an explicitly Christian curriculum in primary, secondary and tertiary education can hope to answer the call of the Great Commission to teach all things that Christ has commanded to all the nations. An Apology for This Work This book was written out of necessity. Like the Willys Jeep of WWII it was built to do a job, not to look pretty. It is aimed to stimulate the thoughtful Christian reader to serious reflection on the role and nature of education in Northern Ireland in the light of who the Christian God is. This work is the result of an often-painful pilgrimage. I have moved from a place of acceptance of the status quo in education, to unease and, finally, to anger. After much reflection and reading I have come to the settled conviction that Jesus’ claim of Lordship is universal and stretches even to the realm of knowledge and education. Christ deserves the preeminence in our schools. However, since Christ is not on the throne of Education in the N. Ireland state schools, somebody, or something else is sitting in his place. How, we must ask ourselves, can Christ be pleased with a system of education that denies him his rightful position?i.
This book seeks to take the reader along some of the road that I’ve travelled. You may find some of the material challenging; you may even find it hurtful and offensive. The path is narrow and can be a little bumpy; it will be easy to twist your ankle or stub your toe, I don’t want that to happen, I don’t want to offend people unnecessarily. It is my wish, however, that you do travel this road with me and that you would clearly hear the call of God to honour Him with all your heart, soul and mind, in this most strategic area: the formal education of children and young people. The journey begins with a consideration of the existing state school curriculum. The question is asked “what should our attitude be to this document in the light of its stated objectives?” Chapter two deals with the good and bad of religious education and assemblies, “can the good in R.E. and Christian assemblies outweigh the obvious deficiencies in the rest of the school?” In chapter three the focus shifts to God’s viewpoint, the scriptures; “what does God want to happen in education?” Chapter four and the direction changes again; “Against the Christian curriculum” is an explanation as to why evangelical Christians are either lukewarm or even hostile to the idea of Christian education. The penultimate chapter “The Christian curriculum” fleshes out some of the particulars of God’s plan for education. The distinctiveness of the Christian curriculum and worldview are highlighted as they compare to the reigning humanistic worldview and the curriculum that necessarily springs from a godless view of the world. The final chapter looks ahead and asks what is the way forward for Christian education? Should we sit still and accept the status quo, should we opt for a halfway house compromise with the ruling order, or should we, rather, seek real change and implement one of the many working models of Christian education? It is my prayer that God would raise up parents, teachers, administrators, businessmen, clergy and academics who would work together to build Christ-honouring educational institutions. Workers are needed on the home front so that the next generation of children might know the blessing of a fully-orbed Christian education. That won’t happen until we end our love affair with State education and return as a faithful bride to Christ, the good teacher. Ending a long-term relationship is always painful and can be very messy, but, the blessing of reconciliation to Christ who is altogether lovely, will far outweigh the thrill of a stranger’s embrace. This is not an academic book, neither is it a research paper and it makes reference to only a small handful of books and documents, only one of which has direct reference to the Northern Ireland revised curriculum. It is, however, a layman’s considered reflection on the
contemporary scene in Ulster education. I will freely admit to having no experience of teaching in state schools and only limited experience teaching young people, but, in my defence, fourteen years experience of being a pupil and the ability to read and to think may well qualify me to express my opinion on the matter. So, I invite you to read on, asking that you would not judge my shortcomings in this work too harshly. I pray that this humble and deficient work would encourage the application of God’s living Word to this most important of cultural activities, the education of the next generation in the knowledge and fear of God.
The Northern Ireland Curriculum The Northern Ireland Revised curriculum, though little-known outside of staff rooms and teacher training colleges is, probably, the single most influential document published in Northern Ireland. No book, Church, or Political party can compete with this obscure work in its power to shape the thinking and worldview of young people in their most formative years. The hand that rocks the cradle may rule the world, but, once the child leaves the cradle the curriculum, through the machinery of the school system, exerts more influence than even the most active, loving and vigilant mother. No parent or grandparent, whether Christian or non-Christian, nor anyone interested in the future of Northern Ireland can afford to ignore the Northern Ireland Revised curriculum or underestimate its importance. The compounding of extensive time, systematic structure and breadth of scope makes the curriculum a culture-moulding Goliath, a towering giant of influence surrounded by vertically challenged rivals; be it Church, Sunday school or youth fellowship. Even the mass media, the Internet and the family arguably exert a lesser influence. In perhaps the majority of cases the child spends more time in school, in directed learning, interacting with teachers and curriculum materials, than in meaningful contact with parents or siblings. Few Churches or Christian organisations spend more than an hour a week teaching children and still fewer are as systematic or as ambitious in their aims as the State educators. The Curriculum is systematic, taught by teachers trained for up to four years in the implementation of the curriculum.ii Highly qualified educational specialists, child psychologists, educational psychologists and Professors of education have laboured to craft this work. Their advice comes in response to rigorous research focused on the particular needs of Northern Ireland schoolchildren, and shows sensitivity to the present needs of society and aims to change society for the better, one child at a time. Each subject area is shaped in an organised manner around explicit aims and objectives. Beside this blazing beacon, the Christian Church offers a guttering candle, a homily, an epilogue, a thought for the day or a verse of scripture or a story with a good moral acted out by vegetables. At best children have an hour’s catechism and Bible-teaching each week in the Church and, in some rare cases, family devotions are held each night. The most conscientious of parents may, perhaps try to periodically debrief
of the curriculum and the values which it contains. There can be no spirituality without a religion or philosophy to undergird and shape that spirituality and no morality unattached to religious or philosophical roots. To suppose that the central aim of the school is to pass on a set body of subject matter to the children heads is to live in a bygone age of yesterday. one could afford to be indifferent. defensive action. emotions. Its influence can either be good. 5 . intellectual abilities and physical development. morality and spirituality. Not only does the curriculum take more time than Church or home. I believe that it is possible to make a clear and godly judgement on the issue. but its scope is much greater also. There is. A Christian cannot be indifferent to a curriculum that actively addresses religion and morality in every subject area. The curriculum aims to promote the spiritual. intellectual and physical development of the child. It is a total plan for the total life of the child. The Northern Ireland curriculum takes the lion’s share of our young people’s most formative years. facts and figures. from the State. disapproval or indifference in part or in whole. The intellect is only one of six areas the curriculum addresses.their children to find out what was taught at school and try to counteract any negative influences. to implement that plan to the best of its abilities. human and material. The state seeks to save the child from anything that would harm the proper development of the child’s spirit. bad or indifferent. cultural. No one can afford to be indifferent or ignorant about this most influential of documents. The creativity and impetus is coming. This is. clear and earnest attempt on the part of the educators to guide the spiritual and moral development of the child. at best a rearguard. cultural sensibilities. a very open. moral. by and large. morals. not only is it much more systematic and consistent than the teaching which takes place outside of formal State schooling. Perhaps if the education system were concerned only with subject matter. not the Churches or Christian families. however. if it only concerned itself with a set body of knowledge to be mastered. There are three possible responses to the curriculum: approval. Which response shall we choose? Using two of the curriculum’s areas of focus. A sincere attempt on the behalf of educators to mould the spiritual and moral development of young people must be met with an equally sincere examination of the moral and religious underpinnings of the curriculum. emotional. It has a systematic plan for influencing each area of the child’s life and has the resources. Its borders are wider and more ambitious than any rival institution. The religious and philosophical roots are either explicitly Christian or they are rivals to Christianity.
is this standard in line with God’s Word? So. most importantly. If the Northern Ireland Curriculum was explicitly Christian we could rest assured that the foundations were sound but no such claim is made. The question remains: “by which philosophy or religion is the spiritual and 6 .Since indifference is ruled out. two kingdoms set against each other. which is traditionally held to be the reserve of the religion. The first thing to note about the Northern Ireland Curriculum is that it makes no pretence of being a Christian curriculum. but ought to be clear in the area of morality and spirituality. the only plumb line of true spirituality and the only arbiter of right and wrong is. By what standard should the curriculum be judged? Popular religious sentiment changes like the weather in Fermanagh. and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad”iii. The scriptures. and attempt. along with Buddhism. but not why it happened. we can say that perhaps only some parts of state education are bad and some are good. Christ teaches that “he that is not with me is against me. often going from bad to worse. paint a picture of opposition. Islam and other world religions but there is no claim to see the child or the subject matter from the perspective of God’s Word. There is a strong prima facie case against the revised curriculum based on the words of Christ. If Christianity is not the source of their morality or spirituality. the good should be applauded and the bad ought. Christianity is mentioned. the State curriculum aims at the fullest possible spiritual and moral development of the child. and yet occupies territory. but the Northern Ireland Curriculum makes no such claim. contrary to our modern idea of neutrality. For orthodox Christians. Since spirituality and morality have religious and philosophical roots the Christian cannot remain indifferent to the curriculum and must judge its spiritual and moral standards according to God’s Word. Hundreds of Christian curricula are used in private schools. with varying degrees of success. to understand history. the Word of God. of course. and in the case of the Christian religion is direction by the Bible. denominational schools and home schools that openly claim to be distinctively Christian. This principle is hard to discern in maths and English literature. which religion or philosophy is? By what standard do the schools judge right and wrong and how does it discern true and false spirituality and. and is a poor guide to the uncharted waters of the future. Christian curricula are focused upon glorifying God in each subject area. surely. the sciences and the arts from the standpoint of God’s Word. Tradition can tell us what happened in the past. morality and spirituality. to be opposed. The curriculum used in State school makes no claim to be Christian. The Northern Ireland Curriculum makes no such claims.
As the curriculum does not pretend to be Christian it must either be totally non-Christian. To see the child as having a spiritual side is. If spirituality is a feature of all kinds of religions. This is a clear change from the older. There is a statutory demand upon your local state school and your teachers to implement the revised curriculum. together with Shintoism and animistic religions abound with spirits in rocks. therefore. mechanical. What is the source of the spirituality taught in Ulster’s schools? 7 . Other theistic religions. or a mix of Christianity and other religions and philosophies. Your school is not different. even in toilets. A note of caution must be sounded however. a step closer than before towards the Bible’s way of seeing the child. Spiritual Development and the State Curriculum On a positive note. trees and fields. designed and shaped by blind natural forces. we can say. Is this an ideal situation? Is this situation acceptable to you as a parent or as a grandparent? What are you doing to teach your child the Christian spirituality of geography? What is your family or your Church doing to understand the kind of spirituality that is taught in the schools? To assess the kind of spiritual development promoted by the new curriculum it is only fair that the curriculum’s views on the source of morality and the means of spiritual development be compared to the Bible’s authoritative and binding principles of spirituality. that the spirituality taught in schools is either idolatrous or syncretistic. Christianity is not the only religion that acknowledges the existence of a spiritual side to man.moral development of the child measured?” Spiritual and moral development will be examined more closely before a more informed conclusion about the value-base of the State curriculum is drawn.iv Contemporary New Age movements. non-theistic religions and even the first humanist manifesto recognise the existence of human spirituality. be tempered with caution since there is no guarantee that the spirituality taught in schools is a Christian spirituality. Christians can be heartened by the curriculum’s focus on the positive spiritual development of the children in its care. This curriculum mandates the teaching of a non-Christian spirituality across each subject area in the primary school and secondary schools. enlightenment ideas about children which regarded them as complex machines. Approval of the inclusion of the “spiritual dimension” in every subject area must. It does not matter that your teachers are Christians. it seems. in Biblical and theological language.
Christian spirituality starts with God and His self-revelation in Christ and His Holy Spirit as found in the Bible. Spirituality comes from man’s response to his environment. and experiences which are humanly significant. on His promise to atone for man’s sin after the Fall of man and on His fulfilment of that promise on the Cross and His enthronement in heaven from where He sends His spirit to be with all who truly believe. True spirituality rests upon God’s self-revelation in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. philosophy. very clearly. Man’s experience is the source. 8 . ”v Spiritual awareness comes from the human need for meaning. The contrast between the State curriculum’s idea of spiritual development and the Bible’s is sharp. This spirituality is. friendship. recreation--all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying human living. on His complete control over all creation. purposes. art. The latter is personal. purpose and appreciation in our lives especially in circumstances of adversity. Compare the above quotation from the revised curriculum with Humanist Manifesto I: “Religion consists of those actions. historical and applies to all men who are created in the image of God.” Christian spirituality rests on Christ. challenge and fear. love. Nothing human is alien to the religious. purpose and appreciation in our lives. the textbook of spirituality. science. pure humanism. It includes labor. The State curriculum’s spirituality starts with man and his emotions.“This key element [Spiritual Awareness] of the curriculum is informed by our human need for some sense of meaning. bliss.
Again. Spiritual growth or. There is no need to look to a holy book or spiritual guide. the curriculum continues: The Northern Ireland revised curriculum "value[s] each individual’s unique capacity for spiritual. Spiritual growth is about becoming more like Christ by being filled with the Spririt of Christ. Spiritual meaning gained by such a reflection is personal only." viii According to the revised curriculum’s version of spirituality. moral. Since no one is in danger of hell. “Teachers can assist the development of spiritual awareness by providing frequent opportunities. The command to “test the spirits”vii isn’t just for the Bible Class. There’s no battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. is powered by the Spirit of God. In the spirituality of the State curriculum there is no need for Christ. no one needs to be saved. emotional. for young people to reflect on aspects of their personal experience and its meaning to them beyond the material dimension…”vi The child grows spiritually by reflection on personal experience. Again. “sanctification”. The Christian reflects on God’s Word and sees everything including emotions and experiences in the light of His Word. meaningful only to him or her. There are no saved and no lost. It is impossible and dangerous to suppose that anyone can develop spirituality apart from God’s Holy Spirit. His Word or His Spirit. in Bible-speak. No one can push his or her experience on someone else. physical and intellectual growth. There is no presumption of the hostility of the natural man to God and to His Holy Spirit. Christ is a remedy for a condition that the 9 . Son and Holy Spirit is. We should remember how jealous God the Father. every child has a unique capacity for spiritual development. within and beyond the curriculum. it’s for all of life and is an especially pertinent warning to protect those most lacking in the ability to discern the spirits. this contrasts strongly with the Bible’s prescription for spiritual growth.How does the child develop spiritually? According to the document.
curriculum can never diagnose. In this version of spirituality Christ can be an inspiration to the child’s spiritual quest. rather. To approve of both view of spirituality is a luxury afforded only to the ignorant or the schizophrenic. in this view of spirituality. Both Christianity and the curriculum are in the “spirituality business” and.E. or for those who teach. The revised curriculum wisely gives spirituality a central position. but is neither unique nor indispensable. Which version of spirituality do you want taught to your child? 10 . A Christian curriculum would also emphasise spiritual development but the orthodox Christian view of spirituality is radically at odds with the present State-school definition of spirituality. In the Biblical narrative which is the source of Christian spirituality the antithesis between God and the Devil is unavoidable. speaks against the wicked of his day. For State schools. there is no need for the vicarious atonement for Christ. death and bodily resurrection as the starting point of spiritual growth. For those with children or grandchildren in the schools. Noah. To say that the Bible does not have the final authority in spiritual development is tantamount to denying the Gospel of Christ. there is no sidestepping this issue. confined to the odd R. and can develop its spirituality by unaided reflection on personal experience. class but is. Since the child has an innate spiritual sense. Since spirituality is ever-present. the conflict between the two spiritualities cannot be avoided in any classroom wherever the curriculum is enforced. they must. the preacher of righteousness. His death may be a good example. spiritual development is not a side issue. a statutory requirement as a crosscurricular theme in each subject area. but in this man-centred spirituality His blood is not needed. It places those teaching a Godless spiritual development in State schools on a collision course with Christ and His Spirit and His Word. there is no need for Christ and His life. By implication. The pattern continues throughout scripture up until the book of Revelation where the fight between the Beast and the people of God reaches its climax. The State curriculum’s view of what constitutes spirituality is not in harmony with Christian spirituality but in direct contrast and opposition to it. His family is saved while the entire earth is destroyed. logically be rivals. since they have mutually exclusive ideas of what constitutes true spirituality. Denying the Fall of man and the resultant division of man into the saved and the lost is not a safe strategy. or a terrible tragedy that happened to a very nice man. Ungodly Cain murders righteous Abel. Its views on the source of spirituality and the means of spiritual growth are markedly different from those of orthodox Christianity.
Its standard for good and bad are the “agreed codes of behaviour” as outlined in the U. Religions from Animism to Zoroastrianism have their own unique take on morality. “from which religion or philosophy does the Northern Ireland Curriculum derive its moral values?” The writers of the State curriculum have at no point tried to pretend that theirs is a Christian curriculum. Biblical morality is far from the only school of moral thought. Convention on the Rights of the Child. even the Christian man.x None of these documents. which insists that man. Here are a few examples: 11 . its a good starting point. values or institutions makes any claim to be distinctively Christian or Bible-based. the question is. what religion or philosophy is the source for their flavour of moral development?” The Curriculum does.ix The documents hold to such moral values such as Equality. Justice and Human Rights. However. Nowhere in the revised curriculum are the Ten Commandments. by international agreements. Institutions such as the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the United Nations are held by the revised curriulum as good moral examples for the children to follow. This begs the question. Educated people with no moral compass are a danger to both themselves and society at large. “if God’s Word is not explicitly defined as the source. a note of caution needs to be sounded. They at no point claim to promote distinctively Christian moral values. The principle at the heart of the above-mentioned documents is that man. This is very different from the Bible’s code of morality. can determine what is right and what is wrong. Christians should be glad that the schools are addressing this crucial need. however. The radically anti-Biblical principles of nonChristian religions and philosophies are often concealed beneath similarsounding moral pronouncements. the need for children to know the difference between right and wrong. What are some real-life examples of the kind of morality that is found in these international human rights documents? Since the UNCRC is the most widely ratified of the documents mentioned and affects the child and the child-parent relationship most directly. the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. openly identify objective sources for morality. In this light. needs God and His Word to make accurate moral judgments. the character of God or the words of Christ held up as the only true source for truly moral action.Moral Development and the State Curriculum The sound moral development of children is key to the future of any society.N.
Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion xv.R.. noted: “The Committee is deeply concerned that corporal punishment within the family is still not prohibited by law. (b) Sensitize and educate parents and the general public about the unacceptability of corporal punishment”xvii. .Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their childrenxvi."xii . . an Irish committee discussing the rights of the child as defined in the U. "Certainly some forms of public sexual activities are arguably included within freedom of expression.Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC xi.N.C.C. The Committee…urges the State party to: (a) Explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment in the family. What are some examples of moral attitudes and outlooks as outlined by the Northern Ireland Curriculum? Equality receives the first mention and is heavily emphasised. Furthermore.A child’s “right to be heard” would allow them to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed xiv.Teaching children about Christianity in schools has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC xiii. How is the moral principle of equality applied? A relevant example is in page forty five where students are invited to: 12 . .
bisexual and transgendered lifestyles and support the right of himself and others to choose that lifestyle. in making moral judgements. If your child is to be a good. moral stand against the bigots that insist upon the superiority of Christian marriage and sexually purity amongst singleness 13 . According to the curriculum’s standards. informed and balanced responses.xviii Section 75 mandates that everyone to whom the legislation applies “to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity” for people of whatever age. rather than any consideration of what the text of the Bible has to say on the matter. distorted and “stereotypical” moral views. distorted. More is being asked of the pupil by the framers of the curriculum. What of immorality."xx Since the moral person holds to the views expressed by the UNCRC and the UNDHR and the ECHR and the moral stances of institutions endorsed by the curriculum such as the UN and the Northern Ireland Equality commission. uninformed. the Northern Ireland Act. biased or distorted viewpoints with appropriately sensitive.” The moral person is required to be more than neutral. gay. he will support lesbian. biased. the prime consideration is equality. Furthermore he ought to take a good. they are called up to engage their wills and actively challenge these biased. insensitive. moral pupil. according to the moral framework outlined in the Northern Ireland Revised Curriculum. 1998"."Explore how… and why some people may experience inequality… for example. The moral person is required to view those who oppose this moral framework as unbalanced. Furthermore. groups named in Section 75. what constitutes an immoral person or immoral behaviour? The curriculum tells us how the student of sound moral character should… "'Demonstrate a willingness to challenge stereotypical. ill informed and unbalanced. marital status or sexual orientation. they are to do more than passively respecting all moral opinions as valid. the immoral person is someone who opposes these institutions and their morality. moral deviants are those who hold to a moral framework that is “stereotypical. stereotypical and biased.xix So.
The only starting point for fostering Christian moral principles in your child in and wider society is by teaching of Christian moral principles. upon God’s will and character as expressed in the Old and New Testament. is based. It is a song sung to the tune of the book of Judges “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”xxi. work their way into the commonplace practice of the school. That seems like a high price to pay for a smiley face and some gold stars. in time. Principles are more important than outward manifestations. To create one’s own morality is to seek to be as god. If the source and ground of school-brand morality is not Christian in general then it is unfair to demand that it be Christian in its particulars. be it a Christian curriculum or a State curriculum. The principles behind the Northern Ireland Curriculum’s plan for the moral development of your child or grandchild are clearly and explicitly stated and they are humanistic. and against all sound thinking. to demand that a bad tree bear good fruit. It is unfair. to do anything but break you child’s moral compass? 14 . It is there in your school and there is no exemption for your teacher. Christian morality. by law in each stage of the curriculum. which are legally mandated to teach an anti-Christian morality. The principles will. in opposition to all other schemes of morality. This is the moral plan proposed by Satan to our first parents in the garden. This is the original sin of man. Which morality do you want to see taught to your children or grandchildren. whether they are Christian or they are not. based on man’s opinions. I very much doubt if any school in Northern Ireland is willing to follow the logic of the curriculum and promote this alternative morality as actively as they are mandated by law to do. unless they are replaced by other principles. The examples chosen may be considered extreme but the issue is there in principle. No school will stick rigidly to the curriculum. The principle of legally-enforceable promotion of lifestyles hostile to the Christian faith and hostile to the health of your child is there in your primary school just as much as it is in sixth form colleges. in principle. God’s or Satan’s? How can you expect the schools.against all rival arrangements. knowing in the sense of determining what is good and evil.
Again. Son and Holy Spirit find a place in today’s State schools should not be taken for granted. secure in the knowledge that the “Good book” is there in the classroom. a great Christian input in the schools through the provision of religious education classes. A Christian teacher would of course take pains to be as accurate as possible when handling Christian truths.S. The force of law is on the side of Christians who believe that the Bible has a real role in the education system. the Presbyterian Church. With fewer and fewer children being churched it has fallen to the State schools to disseminate religious knowledge.xxii classroom. where God’s name can barely be whispered without a court case ensuing. the R. curriculum. the Church of Ireland and the Methodists keep their watchful eyes on the State R. Furthermore. as is a daily act of worship. There is. to find a most Christian Religious education being taught. of whatever religious background can rest. in fact. syllabus for Northern Ireland has been developed in consultation with the four main Churches in Northern Ireland. school is their only exposure to the Christian faith. With the decline in Church attendance and the dampening of evangelistic impulses Sunday Schools and children’s clubs have struggled to find leaders. Those who believe that the Bible can have a positive benefit on all children. if it is true that the presence of Christian teachdes makes a great difference to a school we ought. Anyone who disagrees probably hasn’t spent much time in school recently and fails to appreciate that. where the percentage of Evangelical teachers in state schools is much smaller.Chapter 2 Religious Education and Assemblies There is much to commend the presence of Religious Education in State schools. Surely the curriculum can’t be called ‘godless’ if the Trinity is present? We are certainly the envy of those that send their children to State schools in the U. The fact that God the Father. The provision of religious education is. Many parents are ill equipped to teach their children even if they have the inclination to do so. a statutory requirement. our position is enviable compared to England. Indeed. naturally. The Roman Catholics.E. 15 .E. Evangelical Christians are well-represented Northern Ireland schools and nowhere are Christians better-represented than in the R. for many children. undeniably.E.
Has Probably Changed Since you Went to School Safe to say that. “religious” doesn’t necessarily mean Christian. Molech-worship. of course. Satan is mentioned in the Bible too. in principle. we need. Does revised curriculum seek do this. At no point do they claim to be seeing everything in R. smaller. it is no longer exclusively Christian. So. Religious Education has changed since you went to school. R. myself included. The Bible is a book which contains dozens of other religions. freely admit that evangelicals. Christianity predominates and other religions may only enter in later on. Parson. tend to be a little gloomy and negative. therefore. sun-worship.E. who have the final say in Curriculum matters. So. I have found myself criticising things and people that I hadn’t taken the time to understand. but not in a favourable light. people of other religions and evangelical firebrands alike who have decision-making power in the Department have deemed that the current 16 . A Christian school with a Christian curriculum would be failing the children if they did not teach about other religions. Apollo-worship and Diana worship to name but a few. It is of such an acceptable nature that the Department of Education. but. for one. The news gets better. if you are in your thirties or older. Baalism.E. But. would say that things are as good as they could be. R. Pastor or Priest could find it unacceptable. from the vantage point of a Christian worldview. Its Christian character is such that neither Presbyter. included. It is very possible to teach about something that is not Christian from a Christian perspective and to edify the Christian child thereby. have put their stamp of approval upon it. more dogmatic denominations have been removed. to take time to consider the good and the bad of religious education as it is in today’s schools. Religious studies aren’t exclusively or explicitly Christian in content or point-of-view. worship of the host of heaven. There is nothing more constant than change. Unbelievers. Caesar-worship.E. to look at all religions from the perspective of Biblical Christianity? The creators of the Northern Ireland revised curriculum are very honest and explicit on this point.No one. I. All of the disagreeable salty and bitter flavours that may be present in other. They make no claim that they are trying to see other religions from a Christian standpoint. how has it changed and what form does it presently take? Firstly. Many will be reassured by the fact that the kind of religion taught in State schools is of a type that is accepted by all mainline Churches.
Every element of school life. it has a story. from the chalkboard to the school bell. A bit bland perhaps? Personally. tensions were bound to arise. in good conscience. The R. ‘Religion” was shorthand for the Christian religion. With so many rival Christian denominations increasingly coming under the same legislation and increasingly governed by a central authority. a time and a reason when it entered school life. fit only to be trampled under the feet of men?xxiv The Governing Principles of Religious Education Perhaps we shouldn’t be too demanding about Religious education. The taxpayer came to subsidise tuition for Anglican. Methodist.E. to subsidise the spread of Anglicanism through Anglican schools? Could a Methodist. be expected to fund a particular Presbyterian school teaching the Westminster Confession of faith? Religious education was. but necessary. thus. acceptable to almost everyone. born of necessity as the State superseded Church and Christian charity as the main patron of education. it seems like it has always been there. non-conformist and private schools. After all. Consider the injustice inherent in the financing of such a system. Maybe we should accept it as a bland. How can R. in their opinion. what are its practical and philosophical origins? Before religious education emerged in its present form. What is the story behind religious education. Try picturing the sights and smells of such a meal. Not much flavour. but that’s not to everyone’s taste. acceptable. they came to control what were. a Texan rancher. but. It is like a meal that is acceptable to a Parisian ballet dancer. a vegetarian and a Russian weightlifter. had a beginning. Distinctive denominational 17 . How could a Baptist taxpayer be asked. be religiously bland and universally acceptable to men and yet be approved by Christ? It is Christ who threatened to spew the religiously lukewarm out of His mouth. However.E.xxiii Again. much of the teaching in our schools was Bible-focused. and they have accredited it with their imprimatur. as the government began to fund the schools in the nineteenth century.xxv The catechism was taught and large parts of the Bible were memorised. I would prefer a juicy steak. was it not he who said that the salt that loses its savour is worthless rubbish. therefore. formerly Church schools. Not terribly exciting. in good conscience. fact of school life.religious syllabus is. like everything else in education. The story of its development will further inform us of its nature and whether it can ever be acceptable to Christ or helpful in building up a child’s faith. element in the Northern Ireland curriculum is. of whatever religious background or none.
Atheism. Changes of practice. Increasing State dominance in education was but a symptom of this change. instead of ignoring the Bible. pantheistic or heretical. The pressures of skepticism from outside and unbelief from within led to a progressive jetissoning of doctrines previously held to be indispensable. devoted their lives and their talents to studying the Bible and Christian doctrines in this new discipline of comparative religion. however. First. they studied all religions. Furthermore. Both priest and parishoner had a change of heart about the truth of God’s word and the nature of the Christian faith. as they studied religions they were thinking of “religion” in general.” There are other influences. It comes from a time when men were rejecting the older versions of the Christian religion for sundry heresies. not just the Bible. directed by any particular religious viewpoint.xxvi Just as “indispensable” doctrines were being abandoned. including that of education. Second. give a flavour of the kind of moral and spiritual influences that dominated academia at the time of its conception. This does not make religious studies atheistic. Religious Education has its roots in what’s called “Religious Studies” or what the Americans call “Comparative Religion. previously held to be indispensible. so too were ministries of the wider Church. Catechisms were a little bit too precise and divisive. The move from the teaching a distinct (though diverse). precise and self-confident confessional and explicitly Christian faith in Church schools to the teaching of a vaguely Christian moralism in State institutions represents a change of heart in pastor and congregation alike. acceptable to all. Their attitude towards the study of the Christian religion was very far removed from the believers who studied the Bible before them. By the force of the logic of tax funding and state control divisive doctrines which defined denominations and which were propagated in denominational schools.teachings slowly came to be replaced by a generalised Christianity. Agnosticism or even Pantheism. ostensibly. were shooed out through the school gates or hidden in cupboards. but Religious Studies colours the teaching of religious education more than perhaps any other single influence. so as not to offend. It does. however. What is Religious Studies? It is the academic study of religious behaviour that is not. All religions tended to be held to be of one essential nature “religious.” The Christian religion was not thought of as uniquely good. Many very brilliant scholars. only come after a change of mind or a change of heart. or 18 . The Churches in this period were losing confidence in their respective confessions of faith.
religious studies is nothing less than the application of the first principle of humanism. syllabus faithful to God’s Word. and there were practical reasons for it. In short. A Bible passage can be interpreted differently according to the outlook and assumptions of the person who is studying it. humanism. behind the practical explanation lay a shift in religious and philosophical thinking.E. that man can know and determine truth. Is the Northern Ireland Curriculum’s R. Christian theology assumed that the Christian religion was unique in its truth and power. and one which is hostile to historic Christianity. diretcted by a non-theistic faith. to the Christian faith? I submit that religious education as it is taught in schools today is there to serve man and his needs rather than to prepare the student to serve God. the religion of man. isolated from the rest of the Northern Ireland curriculum. but they were studied in the light of God’s infallible Word. Studying the Bible in the context of Religious Studies and religious education is a very different endeavour from studying the Bible as a believer who loves God and who wants to obey Him. more a bastion of humanism than a bulwark of the Christian faith. It would be naïve to imagine that the 19 . is.E. Third. It was a move from trust to doubt in the God of the Bible and from doubt to trust in man. it was only one of a multitude of possible religious manifestations of man. I contend. Religious Education in the Wider Context of the Curriculum Religious Education doesn’t stand alone.right. Other religions and philosophies were studied. What was held to be a value-free and scientific study of all religions equally. not the religious experience of men. to be analysed as a sourcedocument containing a record of human religious experience. The important thing was to study and to obey the teachings of God’s Word. thus. but was. in fact. as He meant it to be understood? Or. The move away from learning scripture portions and catechism to religious education didn’t just happen. to God. The Bible was not to be studied to be obeyed. was. This conception of religious experience as being the key to a general religion represented a fundamental break with Christian orthodoxy. The move away from doctrinal instruction to religious education was a movement from faith in God’s Word to faith in man’s word. R. rather. the Bible and Christian religious activities. namely. it took time. rather. In orthodox Christian theology the Bible is the centre and reference point for religion. However. is it not rather the application of humanism. their view of the Bible was different.
classroom and. subject matter. this God of the Bible as he reveals himself is intolerant. It points to what is right and wrong in each subject and directs the attitudes and emotions of the would-be moral person. to unbelief and to Satan.E. but the principle of tolerance and political correctness is clearly present in principle in the R. Can a hermeneutic of equalitarianism and tolerance really give an accurate picture of the religion being studied? An “egalitarian” Christ and a “tolerant” Allah may paint a slightly misleading picture. Does the Spirituality located in Spiritual development fit with Biblical 20 .E.E. Further distortions arise when tolerance is used as a lens through which to see the Christian religion. and it. it takes priority over the content of the R.E. preposterous. A religion will be said to be moral or immoral based upon how egalitarian and tolerant of whatever the current agenda of political correctness mandated in schools asks it to tolerate. to gloss over those elements which go against the moral grain of the syllabus. Biblically speaking? Two of the bedrock principles of moral development are tolerance and equality. Spiritual development as a cross-curricular theme wields a great influence on the teaching of R.E. Classroom. of course. but the principles of moral development are to be sought out and underlined in the R. Under the influence of the moral development agenda of State schools there may well be a tendency to ignore those parts of the religion being studied. too needs to be examined.surrounding curriculum has no influence in shaping the direction and aims of the R. how could he send people to hell? If God his tolerant how could he condemn homosexuality in the Old and New Testaments. R. to demons. doesn’t he know that that is illegal? The Holy Trinity also show a marked hostility to other rival religions. guided by the principle of equality. as a cross-curricular theme in all other aspects of the state curriculum. Clearly. classroom. Dare we push the logic of the tolerance as a moral virtue and say that the God of the Bible is immoral? This is. is not applied to moral development. As moral development underlies the subject area of R. “Moral Development” is one of the cross-curricular themes that exerts its influence in every subject area. Since moral development exerts a formative influence upon spiritual development we should ask whether its influence is good or bad. The moral person will be an equalitarian who is tolerant of whatever he or she is taught to tolerate.E. If Christ is tolerant.E. The moral action will be a tolerant one. The principles of morality in moral development will be used to identify the aspects of religion that are moral.
. every subject in the state curriculum is to be taught so as to aid the spiritual development of the pupil. an historic or contemporary artefact. It is not just R." xxvii In Technology and Design students are to: "Develop an appreciation of own or other's achievements. laughable even." xxviii This may seem a little over the top. a man-made structure.spirituality? As strange as this may sound. There is a clear admission in this requirement that every subject has a spiritual dimension or can be spiritually useful to the child. It follows that there will be no uniquely religious emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the supernatural. For example. therefore. The wise parent. has a right to ask where the spiritual values that provide the rationale for spiritual development come from? Consider this excerpt from the Humanist Manifesto I: “In the place of the old attitudes involved in worship and prayer the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote social well-being. in Geography the pupils are encouraged to: "respond to the diversity and beauty of the natural world. but I sincerely believe that the curriculum-builders should be applauded for their perception at this point. of whatever religion. or none.E. They have the vision to integrate the spiritual into all curriculum areas.” xxix 21 . the work of an individual/group. for example. that concerns itself with the spiritual realm.
These conventions grant freedom of religion. Whatever Christianity there is in Religious education is subservient to a reigning humanism. The spirituality of the curriculum can be said. Lastly.E. with or without parental approval. including the schoolsxxx. Convention on the Rights of the Child has a very great impact on all curriculum areas. The U. This freedom is given in a way different to previous legislation. it seems.N. therefore to be individualistic. Because the individual is the key deciding factor he or she can. relativistic and existential humanism that it enshrines. therefore. as expressed in the Humanist Manifesto I seems like a perfect match for the brand of spirituality espoused in the present revised curriculum. the U. since freedom is given to the child to adhere to whatever religion desired. Theology was once “the queen of the sciences”. Without reference to any one holy book. though in a heavily modified form. That is to say that the Bible and the creeds and confessions exerted the preponderant influence on all branches of learning. These are legally binding on all State institutions. Your Christian child or grandchild has a right to become a Muslim. and the individualistic. Just as theology used to reign over the whole curriculum. a very great blessing unknown to so many. This principle. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention of Human Rights. and every other subject area. Spiritual Development Further Considered Since no holy book is held up to be THE source of spirituality it does not.E. R. I suggest. Spiritual Development has. 22 . a strongly humanistic flavour with only an indistinct hint of Christianity in the background. remains in today’s educational institutions. The humanistic brand of spirituality. so spiritual development. simply.E.N. and being exposed to several different religions the determining factor in reaching religious truth is the individual pupil. a Buddhist.E. included. at will. Declaration of Human Rights. a rival religion to Christianity. the U. or an Atheist. can draw from other religions for inspiration. choose to drop one religion and choose another. Buddhism and Christianity the pupil.Spiritual development need not be Christian. R. or even theistic. This gives “spiritual development” an existential and relativistic tone. rules over R. humanism. Since several religions are taught in R. with or without parental say-so.N. depend on any one religion. The development of the pupil’s religious sensibilities and spirituality by the direction of the child to man and his achievements is. Islam. is coloured by the agreed codes of morality and values. again.
Many millions of dollars have been spent in vain in the U. a safe environment for your child? Does the legal sanction given to this child-centred humanistic spirituality not increase the danger to your child’s Christian faith to an unacceptable level? Religious education which we might expect to be a safe-haven for the Christian. . “what kind of God do we find in R. is. just to try to allow prayer into the state schools. School Assemblies What of school assemblies? Can they redeem the situation? My school had scripture readings at each assembly. based on the principles or tolerance and egalitarianism. particularly the Religious education element which. God can use His Word regardless of the context in which it is found.E.S. given in an assembly. about making idols or and bearing false witness to your neighbour? The faithful Christian.xxxi Perhaps the most pertinent question that the Christian should ask when examining Religious education in state schools is. politically correct Jesus made in the image of godless man? Doesn’t the Bible say something about taking His name in vain. In the context of the overarching aims of the revised curriculum and the freedom of religion amongst minors which it is charged to promulgate. is He the genuine article or a “lite version” of the real thing? Is he a mere pocket-sized. including their right to freely choose their own religion. is the curriculum’s saving grace. can outweigh the rest of the godless curriculum. though in accordance with the Christian denominations who have input into the creation of the religious education curriculum. particularly those with children or grandchildren in the school system must begin to ask serious questions of the state education system. syllabus? Is there really room for a God who threaten unbelievers with ‘unequal’ treatment for all eternity in State classrooms? When Jesus enters the classroom in lesson plans and recommended textbooks. Is an R. is.The school is charged with informing your child of their rights.E. classes?” Does the God of the Bible who has shown himself intolerant of other religions fit into the R. This is a privelege that we enjoy without having to fight for it. a factory of doubt and a hothouse for religious apostasy. whose children are taught in State schools can only dream of. to the contrary.E. for many. Surely a drop of truth. a great blessing and something that our American cousins. such is the power of the word of God. I contend. 23 . curriculum that treats all religions as equal.
probably. however. It would emphasise the line of division between the saved and the lost and between true and false religion. What if every school in Northern Ireland had that kind of ideal assembly? School assemblies are not. The assembly with its act of worship is at the outskirts of school life and is. from a Christian standpoint. The school is not a Church and shouldn’t be judged by the same measure a Church is judged by. God would be clearly present before 9:00. The assemblies weren’t perfect. Once the curriculum begins. his justice and love. part of the core purpose of a school. in the wrong context. The perfect assembly. Those leading the assembly would pray in a God-pleasing way in Jesus’ name. I believe. but not of learning and knowledge. or out of date? Maybe God’s truth is only for Church and Christians and is not good enough to be repeated in front of unbelievers?” Again. The assembly can’t be made the measure for the health of the school. A “perfect” Christian school assembly would boldly present the God of the Bible in all His varied character. of whatever creed. The core of the school is the curriculum. there is little need for the God of the Bible. peripheral to its existence. maybe I should follow their example?” 24 . juxtaposed against a god-less curriculum would force the thoughtful pupil to ask themselves. and the real business of the school commences. Namely. God will be conspicuous . that God is the God of piety and prayers. teach the pupil. Once the bell rings. perhaps what God says is wrong. which directs subjects towards a given goal. the bell would still ring and lessons would still have to start. If every schoolchild had a perfect assembly. better than the average assembly. “perhaps it might be wrong to bring God in to English class or biology? My teacher gave a great talk at assembly and yet doesn’t mention God when teaching. the backbone of the school. a powerful yet misleading lesson. but they were.by his absence. thinking Christian child asks? “Maybe he doesn’t concern himself with worldly subject matter? Maybe he’s not competent in geography or maths or in languages? Perhaps God and the Bible has nothing to say about real knowledge. They usually happen at the beginning of the school day. “where did God go?” Maybe he’s sleeping. of course.Assemblies in my school were predominantly led by either believers or Churchgoers. ‘Where does God go after the ‘Amen’’ the earnest. taking place before the bell rings and the real work of teaching begins. With a perfect assembly. or on a journey?xxxii Maybe this God is not concerned with learning? Perhaps He is a God of the Church only and not of the land of learning? A perfect assembly may. mercy and hatred of sin.
” Piety is thus separated from learning. The true question that a Christian parent must ask of a school is. “How well does that curriculum match up to that which is clearly know about who God from what we learn in the Bible?” 25 . cannot fail to harm the spiritual development of the Christian child. The assembly.E. is to compartmentalise his faith.A dissonance and confusion reigns in the school that mixes a Christian assembly with an act of worship to a God-less curriculum that is not present in an openly secular teaching context. even the best assembly. followed by a curriculum where God is only mentioned again in R. Outright misrepresentations of the Christian religion in religious assemblies.” the child says “God is real and his Word true. Good assemblies or bad ones do not make a school bad by themselves. A bad assembly is certainly no improvement on a perfect one. “Yes. Perhaps the only response to be made by a sincere Christian child. and the faith is further separated from life. A school should be judged primarily on its curriculum. when set in the context of a godless curriculum is far from helpful for the Christian child or to the Christian faith. but God should rule in certain areas but not in learning or the school. to a “perfect” assembly.
Chapter 3 God’s Plan for Education The Bible is a book that addresses all of life. buts or gaps. If God were only interested in our souls he would have written us a gospel tract. And remember. so don’t shoot the messenger! “In the beginning God…”xxxiii It is the first verse is. a family or the work of education. What does God say in the Bible about education? I’m no theologian. his infallible word. to take you for a jog through the Bible. the starting point of the Bible and it is the necessary foundation for all Christian undertakings.working in the garden. Do you know what God says about education? Have you changed your thinking and practice to match God’s revealed will? “… Be fruitful and multiply. we will listen when God speaks. No ifs. be it a business. properly interpreted. I want. acknowledging the limitations of my learning. our houses. If God has a plan for education.” xxxv God gave Adam. though I am learning all the time. our family. the way we drive our cars. Remember the Bible. and his descendants. I didn’t write it. the food we eat and how we can get the most out of life. the inner life and the life of Nations. is utterly binding on the Christian. a task and this task that remains to be fulfilled. The range of subject-matter addressed in its sixty-six books shows that God. The sincere Christian who has any link with state education needs to know what the Bible says about education. of course. it is going to be found in the Bible. work-life. It 26 . family life. The job was practical . in His Word isn’t interested in our souls alone. Christian education asks the question “What did God say about…?” and seeks the answer in God’s Word. highlighting some of the scriptures most relevant to the world of education.” “And God said”xxxiv If we want to be blessed. God. just “in the beginning. replenish the earth and subdue it. God did. The Bible and the God of the Bible are clearly interested in every part of our lives.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman. may be transmitted through a school textbook and kill a child’s faith. We cannot trust the children or the teachers to be good. Everything must be checked and balanced against the only thing we know to be true and good. with the generations. God is interested in 27 . This represents a huge task.” xxxviii Despite the Fall.xxxvi Christian education should equip the next generation to replenish and subdue the earth. from the cosmos. or schools can be “neutral” is tantamount to denying the reality of the Fall of man since all these things are products of fallen men. Parents. A spark that kills in Belfast may have been transmitted all the way from Larne. metalwork and farming. So too a spark. and said unto them.was scientific . and multiply. They will either insist that teacher is removed. or they will remove their child from the school. which is more precious than life itself. or family records. of the dangers that are posed by false teaching contained in our children’s textbooks? “God blessed Noah and his sons. God has. Adam’s children quickly expanded their dominion to the areas of music. or textbooks. We are all too often forgetful that books are conductors of moral electricty. the Word of God in the Old and New Testament. To believe that education.naming or classifying the animals. Be fruitful. We need to deal with this fact in our classrooms.”xxxvii Man fell. aware of our weaknesses. will certainly be concerned at a teacher whose moral character is known to be faulty. lit by a dead apostate a hundred years ago. and replenish the earth. aware that all men are fallen. all the time. given us his Holy Spirit to equip us for this task. We can’t trust the textbooks to be netural in their first principles or indifferent to God. The only way to equip a child for a work of this scale is a full and rich Christian education that will not quench the Spirit but which will actively sow to the Spirit. and between thy seed and her seed. the challenge remains to subdue the earth to God’s glory. or curricula. How aware are we. “…These are the generations x 10”xxxix Genesis continues on. to Adam up to Jacob and his family.
and thy son. according to God’s Word is… Children. speaking to Noah when renewing the covenant with him after the flood receded said.families. God says: “…I command thee. 28 . Christian educators should respect the special place families have in God’s plan and should be teaching the terms of this special relationship or “covenant” as the Bible calls it. to be in covenant with Him. and that thy days may be prolonged. thou. in Biblical language. so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice” xli God wants children to know God’s ways and be faithful to them. Sinai. On Moutn Sinai. God conversed with Moses face to face for forty days and gave him his commandments: “Thou Shalt…”x10 xlii God speaks to man clearly on Mt. Christian Education should teach God’s commands and should teach the children to expect to be blessed when they obey them. His plans and his ways are given to us in summary form in the Ten Commandments. for perpetual generations:”xl God wants each successive generation to be in right relationship with him. and thy son's son. or. “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you. Which.” xliii Who ought to know these commands? Pastors? Elders? Bible college students? The answer. all the days of thy life. God says: “For I have chosen him. God. God even tells them that they’ll live longer if they learn and obey these commands.
xliv The law is given again in Deuteronomy chapter five to the generation that had seen their parents die in the wilderness for their disobedience. except for two faithful voices. not the State.The Children of Israel. and with all thy might”xlv After God repeats the summary of the law he gives his core command to parents and to those to whom they delegate the education of their children in the “Shema. are given the responsibility to teach.” which states: “…these words. and. which I command thee this day. and when thou liest down. in each aspect of their lives. The aim of Christian education is to help parents raise a generation that loves and obeys God from their heart. The real “department of education” is the family. and with all thy soul. and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house. and our fathers have told us. and when thou risest up. fell into disobedience. At the midpoint of the Psalms is Psalm seventy-eight. God’s commands are central. like Adam and Eve before them. We will not hide them from their children. and when thou walkest by the way. This Psalm addresses that same generation to whom the “Shema” was first addressed. like the world in Noah’s day were destroyed. heart-obedience to God’s commands. shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children. “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known. shewing to the generation to come the praises of 29 . God commands that: “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart. The family’s key role is emphasised and God’s concern with the next generation is further underlined. fathers in particular.”xlvi Parents. and the “Shema” is central to God’s plan for education. At the literal centre of the Bible you will find the Psalms.
The Psalms begin on a note that will resonate with Christian educators: 30 . it is about leading children to praise God for what He does in each generation for his faithful people. that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them. a generation that set not their heart aright. rather than blind forces or class struggle who drives history and He does so according to how people and nations treat his plan for life. The commands of God deal with ethics and law. but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers. and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.” xlvii It was not only law that was to be passed on from generation to generation. For he established a testimony in Jacob. Psalm seventyeight speaks to another part of the curriculum . It is God.history. The story of how God wants the children to trust Him with all their heart. who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God. The heart-worship of an obedient people should be the goal of Christian educators. and not forget the works of God. and appointed a law in Israel. Christian education is about more than just obedience and faithfulness. God wanted the generations to pass on a story. The Christian history teacher will emulate this Psalm’s philosophy of history.the LORD. and his strength. a stubborn and rebellious generation. the story of what God had done in the parents generation and in their parent’s time. even the children which should be born. and his wonderful works that he hath done. which he commanded our fathers.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.” xlix Later on in the Psalms God underscores a point. but they must be recognised as His property. easy and superficial explanations in teaching.” l Even Samuel himself wasn’t above making mistakes. 31 . not as he pleased. children are a gift of the LORD. because his sons made themselves vile. This applies especially when it comes to teaching. He should have done as God said. which the unrighteous man will scorn. They don’t belong to the school or to the Church or to the government. The righteous man has one standard. nor standeth in the way of sinners. There are godly and ungodly. but to God. They’re “on loan” to the parents. They don’t have to become priests. After the Psalms comes Proverbs. preferring instead his own ‘word. God says about Samuel: “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth. nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. a book dedicated to wisdom. You can’t do as you please with them or teach them what you please since no one but God. there’s no neutral ground. children are a gift from God given to the parents. The fruit of the womb is a reward. The principle remains evergreen. not even the child’s parents. Proverbs is a complex book that points out that applying God’s Word is complex and requires. Children are to be given to the Lord as Hannah gave Samuel to the Lord. wisdom. not abstract theories or hypothetical situations. we can’t today educate or school the child the way we please and expect to be blessed. God alone owns them. These proverbs are a Father’s education of his son into real-world godly wisdom. have absolute authority over them. We only have liberty to expect God’s blessing when we walk in God’s ways. The complex problems presented to the reader in Proverbs are a corrective to those that seek trite.’ “Behold. God’s Word. The book of Proverbs is focused on real life. and he restrained them not.”xlviii The line in scripture is drawn very clearly.
Wisdom is to be valued over academic brilliance or material success. The antithesis. “Riches and honour are with me. in the book of Proverbs. the great contrast between those that are right with God and those that aren’t.Educators need to be tested for wisdom. wisdom moves from the metaphor to become flesh and blood. Wisdom. God is to be feared.”liii I didn’t write it. is held up for our attention. It must be true. proven and applied in real-life situations. There is. only biblical wisdom that proceeds from the reverential fear of the Christian God. We read in the book of Colossians: “….”lii Christian educators be wary of the trap of being more holy than God in their attitudes to material wealth.” li Where does wisdom come from? It comes from the fear of the Lord. a builder. In Proverbs wisdom is represented as a street salesman. an architect and a sister. yea. highly respected. In the prologue to the book of proverbs we find that: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child. the chief aim of education cannot be abstracted from God. durable riches and righteousness. The key word in the book is wisdom. The mere inclusion of God in the curriculum isn’t enough either. Only the God-fearing teacher. but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Christian education should give proper emphasis to the sanctified art of money getting and money management to the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. God did. In the New Testament. held in awe. and pupil and curriculum can impart Biblical wisdom. no neutral wisdom. in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The aim of the book is to impart wisdom to the young man. right? Enough said.”liv 32 .
He’s also on top. a key word. All things in education need to be figured out in terms of the God-man Jesus Christ. The classical Greeks were the educators of the Western world. “For of him. not a guarantee of a perfect result. the teacher. the truth and the life”lviii 33 . from Alexander to the time of Christ and beyond. “And he is before all things.”lvii The New Testament was written in Greek. learning and education.True wisdom and knowledge are to be found. Christian education is a means to godly living.” The “Logos” was a key word in philosophy. the balance of every piece of knowledge and learning. everything involved in the educative process.is fundamentally deficient. the good (or perfect) teacher. Christian education means putting Christ at the centre of knowing and thinking.”lv Christ isn’t just wisdom. Even the perfect teacher had a bad egg in his class. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ said that: “I am the way. “In the beginning was the Word (Logos). he is the centre of everything. The point. They had a word. and by him all things consist. The point and purpose of everything is found in him. All knowledge and wisdom revolved around it. the purpose and the goal of everything is… Christ! Jesus himself is a teacher. Christ is the central point. Christ said of himself. and through him. and the Word was with God. are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Judas. that word was “Logos. in Christ alone. ultimately. the great sage. This is a lesson for every parent and educator to grasp. and the Word was God. the beginning of everything. How can you be a good teacher? Imitate the perfect teacher. There may be wisdom and knowledge elsewhere. and to him. “All things” means all subjects.”lvi Christ is not only at the centre. Teachers should be on the alert for bogus knowledge and fraudulent wisdom. if it is not in Christ it’s not the real article. Amen. the focus. Teacher training that ignores Jesus as the archetypal educator. but. “I am the Logos”. from child psychology to how to teach a child to read. He holds things together and he is at the origin.
before all things and he holds all things together and yet He is fully and genuinely Man. the Lord Jesus Christ. He gave a very clear warning: “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck. I believe. to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. He loved children in as real and as genuine a way as anyone ever has. moral and spiritual development to their fullest possible extent for the child’s welfare. than that he should offend one of these little ones. and he cast into the sea. Christ says that he is the life. He is God. Christ is the truth. and still has. the second person of the Holy Trinity.”lx Christ is wisdom and truth and is above all things. Returning to the Northern Ireland revised curriculum for a moment. A comprehensive curriculum is a preparation for life in terms of a master-principle. the Christian teacher should seek true liberty for the child. The revised curriculum fosters the child’s physical. It was a curriculum to make the pupil a free man. they’re meant for the school as well.” lxi Jesus Christ isn’t Father Christmas and he’s no buttercup. remains the same. in Christ and in his ways. and forbid them not. Surely the claims of Christ demand to be recognised and fleshed-out in a Christian curriculum taught by Christian teachers? Jesus also added: “…The truth will set you free” lix What was called the “Liberal arts curriculum”. “Truth” and “Life” aren’t just Church words or salvation words. a special place for children in his heart. with skin and hair and nails and scars. liberty. Christ says he is the way. To aim at the fullest possible development of the child’s faculties is to aim for freedom under another name. While the State curriculum doesn’t use the words “liberal” the principle. The curriculum is a way.“Way”. By contrast. For the Christian this master principle is a person. Christ said: “Suffer little children. however. The ideal for education was concerned with freedom. emotional. who knows? It is certain. A good education is a preparation for the good life. Truth is key to learning. Maybe he bounced them on His knee and made them laugh. that He had. a path to travel. for centuries dominated Western schools. Christ loves with a passion 34 .
to the Children of Israel to the Kings of Israel through to the gospels and the apostles. Whatever they teach or fail to teach which weakens or confuses a child’s faith or misdirects them in their love and devotion to Him is a great offence.”lxii What’s the greatest sin according to the good teacher? The greatest sin is to disobey the greatest commandment. baptizing them in the name of the 35 . the message was clear. He hates with a passion. Can you. The greatest command includes loving God with all of one’s mind. saying. in response to being asked “what was the greatest commandment” he replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. and thou shalt live. we’re to love God actively with our mental capacities. therefore failing to love God with all your heart soul and strength that constitutes the greatest sin. at best. Thou hast answered right: this do. Failure to overtly relate your subject matter to God in every class and in every book that you use is a serious matter in God’s eyes. and thy neighbour as thyself. do we love God in our thinking? Are we giving him his rightful place in our academic life? We aren’t allowed to be neutral in our mind towards God.but when He hates. It is. and with all thy mind. God had His way of doing education and He wanted His children to follow that way. indifferent to Christ? From the Patriarchs. and with all thy soul. the gospel age? Can we shift our focus for a moment from the mundane world of education to concentrate on the more spiritual work of evangelism? Christ said. All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. if you are a teacher. Educators beware. and with all thy strength. Another saying of Jesus was this. in his great commission: “And Jesus came and spake unto them. love God with all your mind and teach a curriculum. Go ye therefore. To feel warm thoughts towards God is good and necessary but. And he said unto him. What about you and I in this. which is. and teach all nations.
Nurture and admonition aren’t uniquely Church or “spiritual” wordslxv. our task in teaching is an offensive one to seek and destroy un-Christian thought. to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.Father. “Casting down imaginations. it is.” lxvi 36 . Amen. and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and. about teaching as well. as Paul outlines. even unto the end of the world. particularly fathers. They describe education in its widest sense and are a commission to parents to educate their children in a Christian manner. and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. to teach the nations everything that God taught in the Old and New Testaments as fulfilled by Christ and expounded by His apostles. Christian education is one of the core labours committed to the Church. ye fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The great commission mandates the baptising and teaching of the nations. Not only are we to positively educate with Christ at the centre. and of the Son. Can we really fulfil the great commission by giving our children over to fourteen years of education which systematically omits the God of the Bible from all learning? Can we truly teach all things in God’s word in an epilogue after youth club? Does this mean that the responsibility for education has shifted from the home to the Church? No. Nor is it just about winning a soul here and a soul there either. lo. but. very clearly. and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. for in the book of Ephesians we read: “And. with Christ at the centre. I am with you alway. The Church has a job to do.” lxiv God repeats the command to parents.”lxiii The Great commission isn’t just about preaching.
indifferent to Christ?” This question will be addressed in the next chapter. Our task is an offensive one. Educators aren’t only to beware of the teaching of those who don’t truly know God. of course. This verse has a much wider application than just personal holiness and is binding wherever there is a conflict in our thinking between Christ one of his many rivals. our responsibility is greater than before. making it obedient to Christ. chauvinism.If anything. 37 . materialism. feminism. A full Christian education will identify the heresies of our age. at best. We are. All of this begs the question “if a Christ-centred education is such a priority for God and is so clearly a priority throughout the Bible then why is today Church content with schools that are. atheism and political correctness and will make these thoughts them obedient to Christ. socialism. statism. every area of knowledge and every school of though that tries to replace Christ “teaching it a lesson”. to be on the offensive rather than being offensive. This offensive action is to address every subject.
The act of adding the label “Christian’ has no magic ability to “Christianise. Outside of this core lie nuggets of moral content which can be either good or bad. taking it at face value only. is to underestimate the power of early education. to look at something so formative of the culture and society of Northern Ireland in a such a casual manner. The curriculum. just like the choice of which car to drive or where to live or what colour of tie to wear. It is a starting point. Only when the State school openly opposes Biblical morality. The curriculum. For many earnest and sincere Christians however. they just are. however. Secondly. I believe. misleading and ultimately harmful to the cause of Christ. Furthermore a curriculum embodies is an expression of a worldview. Other things can’t be labelled Christian since they can neither be “Christian” or “Unchristian”. a goal and a way or method of getting to the desired educational goal. or stifles the teaching of Creationism does the curriculum come under scrutiny. Some things can never be described as being “Christian” because they’re opposed to the Christian faith or to Christian living. the Northern Ireland Revised curriculum. according to this way of thinking. I’m supposing that since you’re reading this book you probably do all of these things as well. To hold this idea of the school is. it is to treat as simple that which is complex – understanding the philosophy of education contained in the curriculum is 38 .” A curriculum is much more than this. has a core of neutral facts and ideas. I read a Christian Bible and sing Christian songs and hold to Christian standards. I’m guessing you do too. which are neither good or bad. unhelpful.Chapter 4 Why the Church is Against the Christian Curriculum I go to a Christian Church. according to the Oxford English Dictionary is “the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college. Christian or un-Christian. attacks key Christian doctrines. is a matter of indifference. goals and its motive force. religion of philosophy from which it derives its starting points.” Smoking “Christian” cigarettes would defy sense and the character of the scriptures. Becoming a “Christian” atheist is a logical impossibility and driving a “Christian” car is just plain silly. Why do I hold to this view? Firstly.
but I am an active student. often unknown to us. help form our view of the world. our core principles. All we have to do to be mistaken and wrong-headed in this age of ungodly thinking is to believe what everyone else believes. our religion is tainted with worldly ideas. Furthermore. We didn’t sow the seeds of false thinking: they were planted when our minds were open and empty. All we have to do to be incapable of discerning a good idea from a bad one is to remain ignorant of the many unrighteous thought-systems that compete with God’s brand of wisdom and learning. Almost certainly they wouldn’t be able to tell you where the idea came from. but. 39 . through the books we’ve read and the choruses we’ve sung and even in our education. A worldview is like a pair of contact lenses. following the crowd instead of searching the scriptures. Some of the ideas we hold are good and true. The idea that there is a vast. The person from whom we’ve caught them may not even have known that they were carrying the idea. been ‘caught’ unthinkingly. Neither is comprehending the doctrine of the child taught in colleges of education. It is necessary to inform ourselves Biblically about the ideas that are around us in case our world-view. They were planted by our friends. they have. some are a mixture of good and bad whilst others are. impossible for the wearer to see or notice while they’re wearing them but utterly transformative of their view of the world. this concept of neutrality rests on a foundation of many other powerful teachings each of which militates strongly against the possibility of developing a Christian mind and a Christian curriculum. found in the writings of long-dead men. We may like to think our minds are untainted by the world. we are all too aware that this is not the case. In my studies and reflections I’ve come across certain ideas in theology and philosophy.not easy. Most of them haven’t been taught to us formally with blackboard and chalk and textbook. These ideas. by the media. what it was called and whether it was good or bad. This world-view in turn shapes our opinions and our actions. The idea of neutrality guarantees an indifference to most of the educative process. sadly. years and decades necessary to understand God’s Word correctly. All that is necessary to think in an ungodly way is not to invest the months. our worldview. The line between worldview and religion is sometimes difficult to draw. sworn enemies of God and His Kingdom. I’m no expert. rather. When an idea comes to rest in our heart unquestioned and informs all our decisions it has become part of our core principles. morally neutral core in the curriculum is one of these ‘Trojan-horse’ ideas.
to the culticlxviii or ritual elements of the Christian religion. which have contributed to the view that education lies in a morally neutral realm. Heart religion is set against head religion. The more pious the quietist is. for the mystic. True Christianity. The mystic Christian insists that his religious life should be spontaneous at all times. In quietism the ‘world’ or culture is openly abandoned. he lives within my heartlxx”. Pietism Emerging in Germany from within the Lutheran Church in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century and quickly spreading to the English-speaking world this religious movement heavily emphasised the performance of pious actions. is firstly a matter of sentiment. The following are a small selection of such theological schools and ideologies. The gospel is defended by recourse to religious sentiment: as the chorus says: “you ask me how I know he lives. 40 . The intellect is looked upon suspiciously. of urges and of religious experiences. The sincere quietist is too busy navel-gazing about their spiritual state to have any motivation to educate. secondary role to being the primary and defining element of the Christian life. now present across the denominational spectrum. This unhappy doctrine is very much with us today as is the individualism. or feeling. The Christian mystic “feels led” and is uncomfortable with forcing any aspect of his Christian life against their feelings. the tendency of the pietistic outlook. Bible study and religious meetings began to move from their proper. The less the quietist is involved with “worldly” pursuits. the more they will cut their ties with the realm of nature and the affairs of men. which attends it. including education. Anti-intellectual mysticism is not compatible with a rigorous academic and practical Christian education. Though many pietists have been active in educationlxvii. quietism takes the exercise of religious devotions a step further. mysticism and frustration. The quietist waits and wishes that their “flesh-life [would] melt away”lxix.excepting some narrowly “religious” subjects. is to switch the focus away from the work of man in the world. Quietism A relative of Pietism. Mysticism Mysticism has dogged the Christian Church since its inception. The rigours of Bible study are replaced with discussions of how the text makes you feel. Prayer. the more Christian they will be.
graded according to influence and status within the Church from Pastor down to humble congregant. perhaps.” their gospel was small. 41 . In Church-ianity the institutional Church. The fundamentalist. speaking Churchy language and being part of Church committees are the measuring rules of Church-ianity’s brand of Christianity. mysticism and fundamentalism have. I believe. a Churchman on the board of governors of the otherwise godless school. local Church or denomination replaces Christ and His Kingdom. but was satisfied with the husks of religion. the holding of Church office. rather than demanding the meat of the Christian world and life view. They viewed the faith as applying to all of life. and. Narrow Fundamentalism The Church faced a terrible intellectual barrage at the dawn of the twentieth century from brilliant yet unbelieving theologians inside the Church and from a resurgent humanism outside the Church. Little thought is given to applying the scriptures to the humdrum world of subject matter Geography. The Church was overwhelmed at so many points across the intellectual spectrum that they were forced to abandon their positions and fall back. Pietism. R.Church-ianity. Mathematics or History. education and the curriculum included.E. harmed the cause of the gospel in general and have done damage to the cause of a truly Christ-honouring education in particular. like the Church-Christian wanted Christianity in the schools. smaller than ever before. Those outside the Church have done much damage also. When the Church finally drew a line in the sand and chose to defend the “true gospel. Christians often face more trouble from the chaff in their own fields that from the chaff in the next field. the outward forms. Fundamentalism arose in response to those attacks. The good Church-ian will develop an indifference to the affairs of the world. Attendance at Church meetings. The Church-ian will be happy with importing Church-forms into the school in the form of assemblies. quietism. This system insists upon a hierarchy of callings. Ignorance of worldly affairs and influence may even be worn as a badge of honour. to a greater or lesser degree. The reduced and reinterpreted Christianity of fundamentalism lacks the vision of their forefather’s religion. The Church is held the only true realm for Christian action.
would be either impossible or. I must confess to having only a bare understanding of Kant’s thought. With God severed from the world of man there was no anchor to ground truth. highly undesirable. from the spiritual world. as it once was. the revelation of God. reason. found itself on one side of the great divide and the physical world of knowledge. The act of creating a Christian curriculum by applying Christianity. The modern educator used education functionally. one of the most powerful of Western ideologies militates strongly against even the possibility of a Christian curriculum. What I have grasped. certainty and education on the other. to shape the child into the desired mould for the State or for industry. Truth. For the two worlds to meet or to stray into each other’s domain would spell catastrophe.Godless Philosophy: Immanuel Kant Perhaps no one has shaped the thinking of the modern world more than Immanuel Kant. Much of modern thinking operates in terms of Kant. 42 . if it served the purpose of the politician. however. to education in the material world. was twisted out of shape and quickly became something very different from that which it was before. It did not have a definable or real life of its own out of the hand of the philosopher. The great divide between God and the revealed will of God in the Bible has only been reinforced and widened by the hammer blows of unbelieving theologians. at the very least. Both the questions he addressed and the solutions he proposed require a sound grounding in philosophy from classical Greece onwards. is that he drove a great wedge between the realm of spirit and the material world. the search for truth and meaning gave way to a meaning-less age of control of man by other men. Christian truth. faded with it. When confidence in the reality of truth faded the endeavour of education. A lie could be a better truth that the truth itself. or for a better world as defined according to the worldview of the curriculum-builders. philosopher or educator. disconnected from God and from his revealed Word. philosophers and political theorists. So. This was the third age of man described by the father of sociology Auguste Comté where revealed religion and philosophy. The Death of Truth For the modern man such as John Dewey and Karl Marx the truth was instrumental. That is to say that it was to be picked up and used like an instrument to control and shape people to a desired end.
the free. Existentialism or applied postmodernism was totally hostile to the idea of taking a body of “truths” from one age and applying them to the next: this was an impossible slavery to a dead past. no sure blueprint or uniform means of measurement these great ideologies began to flop down to a dead level. For the postmodern man Christian education where every thought is made subject to the word of Christ is heresy against their supreme godthe existential self. pietism and Church-ianity mixed with ungodly philosophy and the remnant of Christian truth. nor any separation between the sea of beans and the sky above. from a cocktail of mysticism. embraces. I contend. The Church. the very teachings that have led to its retreat from meaningful cultural action. Dubious teaching within the Church has combined with philosophical movements outside her walls to draw the Church to flee from areas once central to her mission. The dubious orthodoxy of indifference to or hostility against the idea and practice of Christian education needs to be called into question and examined by every sincere. now more than ever. the great mountain of thought that the moderns had built slid into the sea of meaninglessness.Postmodernism As the mist of Modernism cleared. A Questionable Orthodoxy The de-facto lifestyle of the Christian. a sea of beans with no shore. or big story. including their education rests. With no anchor. Postmodernism replaced the certainty of the modern’s meta-narrative of ideology and philosophy and science with a clear-sighted cynicism. I have only highlighted a few of the philosophical trends and theological movements which bear on our thinking and acting. which posits the Trinitarian God as the foundation of every truth was an unclean thing to these philosophers. quietism. The Bible as the ultimate meta-narrative. unimpeded feeling or action. nor coast. You can be totally captivated by faulty philosophies and unorthodox theology with 43 . no foundation. not upon the foundation of orthodoxy but springs forth. Truth became even more twisted and uncertain than before. often unwittingly. rather. The abandoned territories have been actively developed by those opposed to historic Christianity in terms of their own ‘God-less’ philosophy. The only sure thing for the post-modernists was the moment. thinking Christian.
or openly belligerent against the wisdom and knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. Knowledge isn’t power. the God we want so much to serve. is much too great and universe-filling to be content with just a corner of the cosmos or the fag ends of the educative process. Its actions have been hampered and it finds itself listing to one side and slowly sinking. has been compromised. A Faulty Tree and its Fruit Contemporary Evangelicalism. Its hull has been breached by false and unhelpful theories from its enemies and its professed allies. need to grasp the ideas that surround them for their own sake and for the sake of the next generation in order that they might recognize them and shun them in favour of the truth of God. fruit. Naturally. When the Church abandons its quest for a distinctively Christian education founded on a Christian curriculum it is acting logically. some of which are hostile to a God-pleasing Christian faith. less than godly. It is a flawed and damaged Christianity that delegates the education of Christian children to those ostensibly indifferent to. but it does help. The God of the Bible. while adding Christian trappings around the edges. There is a difference between being bitten by a mosquito and knowing its name in Latin and being able to write a dissertation on its life cycle. by the logic of its own reduced Christianity. It is the logic of a reduced Christianity operating in a reduced sphere of action and serving a reduced God that drives the contemporary Church to content itself with the crust of education only. a movement that has done so much good.K. Any alternative system.having a clue about either philosophy or theology. since He is God.. Every Christian. He wants it all. If you know what mosquitoes can do and where they live and breed and what medicine to take to combat the disease they spread and then take that medicine consistently you can live a healthy and productive life where others are paralysed and die. perhaps the most faithful expression of Christianity in the U. employ the current “neutral” national curriculum. What is true of the mosquito and malaria is true of ungodly theology and philosophies. Some evangelical initiatives using a mix of state curriculum taught by Christian teachers. funded by a combination of tax money and private 44 . To be consistent with faulty first principles consistently produces defective. The inertia of a compromised evangelicalism is not a safe foundation to build a curriculum on. Evangelicalism acts in terms of mixed core principles. especially parents or those that want to have children. built on the foundations of today’s evangelicalism will.
Again. academic achievement and reduced strain on the public purse. But Christian Children are the Salt and Light in School! One common objection is that Christian children are to be salt and light in the school. However. Without a renewal of our minds in this area we will continue to be pressed into the Christ-reducing mould of neutrality. If we agree this is the case were are wise and agree with the Great Martin Luther who said “I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures. support in a West African country I had to undergo almost a year and a half’s training in language and culture acquisition. 1. at the weekends. There are four areas where this renewal needs to take place. If we assume that the school needs salt and light in it then we must firstly admit that state schools are prone to become rotten. Only a faulty view of God and His Word will allow us to leave vast realms of culture and science and human learning unrelated to Christ.T. no matter how well funded or earnest or pious these institutions are. French language learning. unless they are training their children systematically at home to both recognise the godless influences brought to bear upon them and also to know how to counter these influences their children are being leavened with the yeast of ungodlinesslxxii rather than being salt and light themselves. even the optimal outworking of a flawed system will retain and amplify the existing flaws. on school holidays? Is Sunday school really up to the challenge? To ask a child to function as “salt and light” is an exercise in rhetoric if the parents are not themselves engaged in being salt and light in their areas.”lxxi Is such a rotten place safe for children? Can we delegate our responsibility to be salt and light in society to our children? How much training is needed to be salt and light in a society that does not acknowledge the Lordship of Christ? In order to fulfil a role in I. the maker of all things and the source of all knowledge. several objections need to be met. before these four areas are addressed. 45 . The development of a Christian curriculum will require the renewal of evangelicalism on its old bedrock of scripture alone. and country-specific orientation and this for a role which would mean very limited contact with non-Christians from that country. after school.capital have known great success in terms of pupil behaviour. When do we teach our children to be salt and light? before school. But.
supremely. too precocious. since that same Christ who saved our souls is also Lord of education. We are bound to be a ‘peculiar’ peoplelxxiii by virtue of being in Christ and. if we say “systematic Bible-training isn’t allowed in the classroom” then we are saying that these schools are condemned perpetually to continue their decay and to stink yet more of rotten flesh. In the former there is one God. even amongst evangelicals. how the family altar squares up in comparison with the state school. 3.” we say. However. and our great saviour. Jesus Christ. What used to be called the ‘family altar’ is very rare. like our fellow-believers across the world. internet. Especially those with direct responsibility in this area.The real duty of being salt and light in the schools falls on mature Christian adults. it needs to be moderated. If we have maintained the family altar we are part of an increasingly rare group. Christian education need not be clerical education. forcing them to recite a holy book in a language they do not know. Again. a personal. Christians serving on the boards of governors of schools. school and church commitments and general busyness rule many households. and.V. and their children are different too. T. Consider. so different. the legion of Christian teachers. omnipotent and holy God whose 46 . perhaps you know a family who homeschool? They may be nice people but homeschooling is so marginal. but this is not the way is should be for Christians.’ The democratic instinct leads us to seek truth in the crowd and in consensus. Isn’t Making the Bible the Basis of Education Too Extreme? Perhaps “Christian Education” conjures images of fanatic clerics beating children. and it must not be either sadistic or archaic. Where is the systematic and countercultural Biblical training in Northern Ireland’s state schools? Only the word of God applied in schooling can function as salt and light. our forefathers.. If we read systematically and pray with them individually and together as a family we do better. we must seek out an education which wholeheartedly embraces the Lordship of Christ. Why are we sending our children to schools that stink? 2. they’re not quite ‘normal’ somehow. in a society dominated by the state and its institutions. But I am Teaching My Child at Home and Sending Him to ‘Normal’ School If we are reading the Bible to our children we do well. it will certainly appear extreme when a family decides to step out of the state-proscribed ‘norms. We must bear the shame of being regarded as extremists. that is a Christian education. specifically. “Too much religion is dangerous. too articulate. however.
Bible is true. In the latter that God is conspicuously absent, excluded in the name of tolerance and equality. At the family altar no impure teaching is allowed to corrupt the child’s, mind while in the school pragmatism, existentialism, nihilism, evolution and general godless humanism are in the driving seat. There is, evidently, a great disconnect between the world of the state school and the world of the Christian ‘family altar.’ What is the effect of this dissonance on the delicate mind of the child? What is God’s view of having one God at the altar and another in the school? Again, consider the disproportionate time and effort expended in the education of your child in state institutions versus the time and effort expended in preparing family devotions. State schools expend thousands of pounds per pupil per year on educating each child. Paid professionals who have trained for years in education have worked hard on developing and implementing the new revised curriculum. This curriculum is taught five days a week for nine months of the year for fifteen of the most formative years of a child’s life, not including university. How does your daily devotions and catechism compare to this? How much time and money and effort have you expended in mastering God’s truths and applying them to today’s world? Are the two foes matched equally? If you want your child to be a consistent Christian why are you giving him an at best inconsistently Christian schooling? Is it fair to ask a godless school to produce godly children? 4. But Christian Education is too Costly Christian education costs. It costs in terms of social disapproval, it costs financially, it costs in terms of time and energy, it costs in many ways and that cost multiplies as the children multiply and as the years of schooling advance into the distance. ‘Ordinary’ education also costs, around £16,000 per child, for what ought to be a ‘free’ education.lxxiv The hidden costs in household tax bills are harder to calculate. In 2006 the then-Prime Minister pledged to raise the amount spent yearly in educating each child to £8,000, this is the financial cost of free education. To call something so expensive ‘free’ is, I contend, to bend the word so forcibly so as to permanently mis-shape it. But what are the other, greater, costs of free-at-the-point-of-delivery education? Consider the cost of the progressive influence of ungodly peers or of ungodly teachers who are able to pit their mature wits against the growing intellectual powers of the young Christian. How can we measure the cost of a faith that has been shaken into doubt or into unbelief? What currency can be used to weigh the frustration of the earnest young Christian student who wonders where God is when the school bell rings? There is, surely, no economic recompense that can outweigh the heavy
cost of a child who is estranged from the faith or unnaturally retarded in his growth in grace or in knowledge. State education may ostensibly be free, but in the light of its threat to the Child’s faith and morals, and its dubious intellectual standards, it demands far too great a price to pay for causing one of Christ’s little one’s to stumble. Christian education is expensive, yes, but it pays. To sow to the Spirit means reaping to eternal life,lxxv to be unashamed of Christ and his word means to be honoured by him at his coming.lxxvi Perhaps most pointedly, the only hope that we have that our children might not depart from the faith is that we should train up children in the way they should go.lxxvii Surely Christ is the way, in every true sense of the word, and to train up a child in the way must mean training in the Christian way. Our only hope of eternal dividends from our child’s education is to make godly investments now, while we are still able. 5. But Christian Schools Aren’t State-Accredited! It is held that without state accreditation the child will never progress in life, that he will be held back, unable to perform to his potential. It is only in the last one hundred and fifty years, however, that the state has come to see itself as the only true accrediting body for much of education.lxxviii It may be argued that in today’s world, things are different and more complex than they were in the less complex past. A ‘proper’ state-accredited teaching institution can only deliver a truly relevant education in today’s technological world.lxxix We cannot be blamed for believing this since major denominations have, for many years, trained their pastors in theological colleges accredited by the state. The accrediting institute of theologylxxx may or may not be staffed by unbelievers, but, this is of only marginal concern since, the state is the natural arbiter of what constitutes a bona-fide education. The price to pay for state accreditation is, I submit, that the teaching be in accord with the will of the people, unbeliever and believer alike, as interpreted by the present ruling elite, the ultimate funders of state learning institutions. How often has the will of fallen man been in accord with God’s wishes? Are our governing classes committed to the Lordship of Christ in all areas? How then can the state-accredited institution teach in a godly manner and prophetically challenge the powers-that-be? State accreditation of education, which seems like a fact of life may, in fact, be a contemporary aberration. The great universities of Europe, Oxford, Cambridge and Paris, and the great old universities of the new world, Yale, Harvard and others were founded by Christians, as Christian institutions, for the furtherance of the faith, in independence from Church or state in many cases. The first accreditation necessary was the
accreditation of the pupils. The root of the word ‘accredit’ is ‘credo,’ from which springs the word ‘creed.’ A profession of the orthodox Christian faith was required of teachers and of those applying for entrance to university. It was the faith, given to us in God’s word that was to be the prime accrediting agency. How far we have fallen in seeking accreditation from the world for our theological colleges. We are to render to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God’s accreditation is the proper domain of God and his Word. The faith was the judge of whether a school was accredited or not, it is time we righted this contemporary aberration and stop giving to Caesar what belongs to God. Practically speaking, indeed, there are many independent Christian school accrediting agencies who are committed to godly standards of accreditation.lxxxi It is interesting to note that Universities and Colleges Application System, U.C.A.S now recognises the Advanced International Certificate of Christian Education, issued by Accelerated Christian Education for entry into State accredited universities.lxxxii There is no absolute need to gain a state-accredited certificate at a state-accredited institution in today’s Northern Ireland. There is, however, a pressing need to make sure that our child’s schooling is accredited by God in conformity with the faith, so that Christ might have his rightful place as the cornerstone of all true learning. 6. But My School Isn’t That Bad! Not every school is the same; schools, like accents, vary across the province. Some schools are weak academically; others have traditions that stretch far into the past. Schools may be associated with one particular denomination or they may be good at sports. There are schools for boys only and girls only, schools that take boarders, and schools with dubious school uniforms. Some schools have recently been refurbished and have sumptuous I.T. suites, others languish in obscurity, facing the threat of closure. In the state sector, granted all these variations, one thing, however, is constant. State-funded schools are state-controlled schools: “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” The state mandates the type of teacher, and it will not discriminate in terms of creed, choosing the believer over the unbeliever. It mandates the curriculum and textbooks without making any pretension of being in any way ‘Christian.’ The main part of the work of the school happens after the bell rings, in the classrooms and these classrooms are dominated by the revised curriculum, which, for all its ambition to change the child for the better in his emotions and in his spirit, has no use for Christ who alone can truly change the human heart. To expect Christian teachers to make a substantive difference in a state school is to ask the impossible.
The only possible way to make a school acceptable in the eyes of Christ is to bring it under the out from the government of the state to the government of the Christian parent in a Christian homeschool, Christian private school, Christian homeschool cooperative or, perhaps, in a denominational Christian school. A school will never change its tune without a change in paymaster, a Christian tune will require Christian money. Objections to Christian education may be heartfelt, sincere and may accurately depict the practical challenges of a non-standard schooling. Questions of principle must, however, overrule merely pragmatic concerns. Five Key Principles Which Necessitate a Truly Christian Education 1. The Kingship of Christ Christ doesn’t just rule over the Church, he rules over all creation. He reigns over all nations, over their kings, presidents and prime ministers and He rules nowlxxxiii. As weak as we are, and as weak as the Church is, we have been called a royal priesthood and a holy nationlxxxiv because we are the sons of God who is himself the King.lxxxv His claim to sovereignty is not limited to the Church, or to R.E. or Cliff Richard albums, every endeavour of man is to be subject to Christ the King. This lordship is explicitly declared in relation to the intellectual realm. Every thought, each system of thought and area of thinking is to be made subject to Himlxxxvi because he is King, full stop. The present Kingship of Christ over all the earth makes the development of a Christian curriculum and a Christian alternative to the state education system a matter of urgent necessity as a part of our service to King Jesus. 2. The Fallen State of Man Man has fallen from his sinless State in body, mind and soul. All of our faculties are not only diminished in power but are, outside of Christ, in active rebellion against the creator. The original sin of declaring oneself as god and claiming the ability to know or determine good and evil for oneselflxxxvii has a huge impact on the educational realm. The pupil, the teacher, parents and curriculum-developers are all, by nature, rebels against God and His Word. Original sin drives us to oppose God’s truth with our own version of the truth. The educator, however brilliant or insightful or naturally warm and caring will, inevitably, in terms of their nature, construct a curriculum that reflects their fallen State and
He gave us a full Bible. As in earthly conflicts some territory is strategically more valuable than others. The Reality and Inevitability of Conflict Christ warned his disciples “in this world you will have tribulation. ‘neutral’ education.xc or the present godless State. Talk of ‘free’ education. He didn’t even give us a New 51 . 4. playwrights.their rebellion against God. He did not give us a chain of disembodied verses to memorise.”lxxxix Conflict in the Bible is inescapable. we will build our educational efforts on the only true and good foundation. Conflicts on the earth and in the spiritual realms are fought over lines drawn at the fall. These conflicts mirror a spiritual battle in high places. The heart and mind of the child is perhaps the most strategic area on the whole earth. The reality of the Fall drives us in humility to seek a sure ground of wisdom outside of ourselves in the word of God. This is not to deny that the image of God is present in all men. The line is between God and Satan and between the children of God and the children of Satan. Biblical Christianity Christ did not come to earth to write a tract and push it through our letterbox. If we believe in the inevitability of conflict between the two seeds we’ll guard our most precious territory with an explicitly Christian curriculum delivered by teachers with consistent Christian character. 3. Even the Christian. lulls and escalations in the intensity of the fighting but there will always be animosity and hatred between the two seeds. It is not to deny the brilliance of unbelieving poets. we will be yet more suspicious. “Nature” or “chance” or humanity will occupy his rightful place. In this key area we need to be vigilant against enemy attacks. a new man in Christ is subject to the effects of the Fall and needs to rely on God and on His Word as His guide while educating. And if this free and neutral education is offered to us by Sanballat or Haman. Christlxxxviii and his Word. humbly acknowledging our tendency to stray from what is true and right. receiving the glory he deserves in biology or chemistry or physics or history. philosophers and physicists or to inflate the achievements of Christians. from Cain and Abel to the Caesars and the Apostles. If we are wise. Instead of Christ being given his rightful place at the centre of all truth. There can be temporary truces. ‘religious’ education acceptable to everyone of all religions and none should make us put on our armour with even greater care than before. victories and defeats.
especially in education. but one unified word. This is a call to be “odd”. False first-principles. Old and New Testament. very God of very God. more hymn singing. It is not just a question of more Bible reading. Class. which allows room for God. Romans 8:28 is right. and working towards a Christian curriculum is not one of degree.”xciii 52 . Jesus. As we abandon our mixed and faulty ideas and move towards a fully-orbed view of God and His Word we will. told the Church to teach “all things whatsoever I have commanded you”xci . a vital and a life-giving vocation. if it is truly God’s will. a question of first principles and presuppositions. naturally.Testament and Psalms. The context of every verse is the whole Bible as it touches upon that verse. The difference. and acceptable. an expensive calling but nevertheless. rather. sixty-six books. And. The Old Testament is not a rough first draft and the New Testament a second draft. It isn’t even a question of opposing evolution in biology and adding creation as an alternative. then it will. Only a fully and unashamedly Christian curriculum can begin to deliver on such an ambitious goal. The Bible is not two words.xcii Christian education doesn’t just cost. I believe God is calling us to be entirely consistent with His view of the world. be a blessing to those who heed the call and will. and perfect. as creatures made in the image of God. John 3:16 is right. He has given us much more. Old and New Testaments to every nation of the world. This task is above the remit of any Sunday school and is far too intolerant and bigoted to be taught in a state-school R. and more R. it pays! May God help us to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind[s]. bring blessing and bear fruit in us. between being content with the current system of the national curriculum. one bad one good. such as ‘neutrality’ or a limited view of Christianity will be a drag on our Christian life and work. in our children and in our children’s children to a thousand generations. Christian or non-Christian. a call to hard work. will of God. No one is ever totally consistent with their pre-suppositions but we. Psalm 109:105 is right – but only in their context. then. a full Bible. It is.E. work towards integrity with our core beliefs.that means every word of God’s complete Bible. not twenty-seven. that we may prove what is that good. but not on his terms. find ourselves logically and inexorably drawn towards Christian education resting on a Christian curriculum. I believe.E. It is more a question of the foundation of the building rather than the colour of the curtains. in turn.
The goal of the curriculum must either be the glory of God or the glory of someone or something else. like any other plan. a curriculum answers the question “who is man?” and “who made me?” and “what is man’s chief end?” A curriculum might describe several different starting points and several different goals but will. The curriculum is the heart. an ambitious and all-encompassing plan. either implicitly or explicitly. from concepts borrowed from the world. Buddhist or Humanistic must take shape and be incarnated into a curriculum which incarnates the aims. the marrow and the core of the educational endeavour. advocate one true starting point and one true goal.Chapter V The Christian curriculum God has a plan for education. The root of the word “curriculum” is the Latin word “currere”. beautiful and well maintained. the meat. something else. without any clear aim in life. 53 . The curriculum is no small thing. the signals and the timetable. goals and methods of the parent religion or philosophy. I contend. or from a reduced “lite” version of Christianity. That is only part of the truth. The curriculum sets the tone for the longer race of life: the “career” which is the English word most closely resembling the Latin “currere”. we are guilty of raising our children as barbarians and nihilists.the circuit that the runners or charioteers must complete. The curriculum dictates the course . Every course needs a starting line and a finishing line or goal. All this begs the question “what is a curriculum?” The revised curriculum is like a railway carriage. then Christ‘s teaching must itself be incarnated. It is also the root of the word “chariot” and the course that the chariot takes. whether implicitly or explicitly. The word must “become flesh” and be poured out into the mould of a Christian curriculum. it is the beating heart of any school or school system. If say that “our curriculum has no goal”. a rival starting line. If Christ’s plan for education is to be achieved. The starting point is either Christ and His Word or. whether Islamic. however. Seeming inconsistencies between the idea of a Christian curriculum and present-day conceptions of Christianity stem. The curriculum is not only the carriage it is the track. To borrow from the Catechism. He has determined who is accountable for outcomes in education and has decreed who should fund education and has ordained its proper foundations and goals. but pointing in the wrong direction. literally “to run”xciv. God’s plan for education.
This may be to Jehovah God. of whatever shade. is to appeal to a moral standard above the child and the teacher.”xcvi Again. Regardless of the source of moral authority. or to conform to the general will of society. about the ground of knowledge and about where the world and the child came from. or to Allah. “what is man’s chief end?’xcvii That end goal may be to please God. Once it is sincerely embraced. and all of their endeavours. A child who embraces the goal they were taught when young will aim. It seeks to answer the question “what is the best way to live?” To prescribe one way as better than another.The curriculum doesn’t just describe the starting point and the end goal. The proscribed circuit is what the Bible calls “…the race marked out for you. Because man is made in God’s image it is in man’s nature to tend towards consistency with his first principles. which religion is embedded in the curriculum? School Curricula. When the curriculum deals with origins and aims it is in more explicitly religious territory. I contend determines the entire worldview of a child. throughout all of their lives. the only question is. 54 . even religious. the good life. It is no accident that the first question in the shorter catechism asks is. it will determine the whole tenor of a life. prescribing what is right or wrong. or the glory of God. and purpose and meaning they are intensely moral and religious documents. consciously or unconsciously. Whether that goal is selfexpression. or to nature. he is accountable. This does not mean that every school is readily identifiable as “religious”. something profound is being communicated.”xcv The curriculum describes “the way” or “the path of life. or Democracy or the UN convention of the rights of the child. relies on a prior worldview or religion. there can only be one true and best “way” to get from the real starting point to the ultimate goal. or the U. conformity to the group. the child will work towards that goal. by implication. to be a pious Muslim.N. to become one with nature. In speaking of a starting point. or the will of the people incarnate in the State. Since they deal with origins. better and best. to meet that goal. but prescribes the best path to get to your destination. to seek annihilation in Nirvana. The source of that moral prescription may be the God of the Bible. The teaching of a curriculum which has a religious or quasireligious goal embedded in it is a religious act. The aim of life. deals with more than purely pragmatic questions. or Allah. The real core of every school is intensely moral. The heart of education is much more than learning facts and figures and times tables or periodic tables. You are defining the child and telling him to whom he belongs and to whom.
As one influential humanist commented: “I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers.It does not mean that teachers. or large State university. day-care. together with all its adjacent evils and misery. Some contemporary humanists however. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new-the rotting corpse of Christianity. are more perceptive and self-conscious in their understanding of the role of modern State education. utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach. for they will be ministers of another sort. resplendent with its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbour” will finally be achievedxcviii. and the new faith of humanism. administrators and educational psychologists see their task as a religious one. regardless of the educational level--preschool. 55 .
It is an impassable and irreconcilable gulf that separates each respective school’s aims. Mathematics included. to similar effect. “upon which religion will the curriculum stand?” A Christian school and a humanistic school may strongly resemble one another. This similarity in form. It is. school runs and school holidays. better than the old one. sheep and goats alike. in other words. is necessarily religious. staffrooms and detentions. English Literature and French. I’ll look at each of these subjects in turn. the path chosen to attain those aims and the starting point from which the child and educator begin the educational enterprise. not enough time. Even atheists talk of education with religious reverence and pursue their educational goals with a zeal which once characterised evangelicals in this country. I don’t like such and such a teacher or pupil. 56 . is. which gives education its form. the faith in the transforming power of education remains. in externals. The subjects on the timetable may even have the same names: Geography and History. whiteboards and handouts. Education and the curriculum. The question then. It is a crack that starts at the foundation of the school and works itself up to the chimneystacks. School children attending both institutions may well have school uniforms and packed lunches. Science and Maths. This difference in principle between the present State education curriculum and a genuinely Christian curriculum can be illustrated by taking specific subject areas and examining how each respective curriculum addresses the subject. but their faith. however. between the Christian school and the State school. The same process could be repeated in each subject area. This Jesus is incarnated a second time in the State-controlled secular education and will save everyone. Both teacher and pupil in each school may have similar gripes. too much work. Having studied History and Geography at A level. Both schools will have classrooms and teachers. At first glance the differences may be negligible and the similarities overwhelming. hides a deep rift. the difference in curriculum and the worldview embedded in that curriculum which separate one school from another.Otherwise stodgy accounts of the history of British education are dotted with great bloated Messianic pretensions which picture a new Jesus. pencils and homework.xcix The religious fervour that marked the pioneers and the following generations may now be forgotten. in appearance.
Ultimately. One curriculum will see an event as central and underline its importance. If God is God. No one doubts that Elizabeth I reigned after Henry VIII. recount the history of the great ecumenical creeds that 57 . another curriculum will ignore it as being peripheral. The whole Universe and every event that occurs within that universe is the result of a personal Creator. A history curriculum.History History may seem like a value-neutral and objective subject.”c The doctrine of Creation does not simply posit that God made everything. History follows the pattern set by the rest of the curriculum. Furthermore. every law of the universe and every historical event is subject to the moment-by-moment direction of God the Son. knowing the importance of pure Bible-teaching. settled. God creates the heavens and the earth “in the space of six days and all very good. If chance is ‘god. but it is not enough. about man and about the world. he is the ultimate cause of events and the event clearly has meaning and purpose behind that event. or the answer to the question “why did this event happen?” will vary greatly from curriculum to curriculum. History. each event derives its first cause and meaning from Him. stacked on another until the end of term. the god or source of power that reigns in each worldview causes historical events. who created the world from nothing. A History curriculum is more than one fact of History stacked on another. The Christian curriculum begins with Christ in every subject area. it continues to be subject to that will. The Godhead. every fact. History included. un-created and unaffected by the restrictions that affect created beings. according to the worldview upon which each curriculum rests. an path and an end goal. History begins with the creative act of God. like the rest of the curriculum. Also. The facts of history are. does much more. it implies much more about God. Which ‘facts’ out of the sea of historical data should be studied? The ‘facts of history’ are chosen according the values held by the curriculum’s authors. A Christian curriculum may. in God’s universe. There is no question about when Napoleon was defeated in the battle of Waterloo. or about the date of Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon. of whatever hue. the event had no meaning. is outside of history. it seems. The God who created the world out of nothing sustains the world by His will.’ the event will be said just to have happened. has a starting point. since the world was created by the will of God. cannot afford to bypass or sideline the creator and sustainer of the world without personally offending this very personal creator-God. This is true. History. Causation.
is his mother.K. a great expanse of nothingness. Regardless of this. at the genesis of the cosmos a giant void. the consistent evolutionist will say. Man has only appeared in the last few seconds of the evolutionary day.’ there is. and blind chance his father. I believe. meaningless void. tacitly accept the doctrine of evolution. The existence and history of man is. It is. at the bottom of the ‘Billions of years. according to this doctrine. an incomprehensibly long time ago. empty.’ rather. Man owes his recent emergence as a sentient bi-ped to a chain of chance mutations. When creationism was taught alongside creation in (certain) State schools this provoked a bitter reaction amongst the educational and cultural establishment. informs the curriculum’s view of history and so informs the creation of the history curriculum. some may well hold privately to a literal six-day view of creation. not the special creation of God made to rule over the entire created realm in God’s name. “in the beginning… nothing. which puts its faith in man and his reasoning and his institutions. thus. ‘Nature. Not every history teacher holds to this theory explicitly. though far distant from our own time. Both father and mother are sightless and unfeeling impersonal forces who are as liable to eat their offspring without remorse as they are to continue to sustain them. The evolutionary theory of origins is not preached in every history class. A humanist curriculum. This void. the father of history is a black. The doctrine of evolution is clearly guarded with particular care by the ‘gatekeepers’ of our culture. What is the impact of the doctrine of evolution on history? Many ignore the deeper question and will run from the clear conclusions of a self-created evolving universe but. Biological Evolution and History For most people in the U. therefore. safe to say that those who have developed the curriculum. will tend to focus on the rise of the secular state. an insignificant afterthought in the grand scheme of the universe. nothingness exploded and the universe began. in turn. In the beginning. To hold to creationism as the Bible teaches one has to swim against the prevailing wisdom of contemporary society. For the consistent evolutionist. using the textbooks supplied in 58 ..” When all is stripped away. insofar as the history curriculum is taught. has the effect of sucking all meaning and hope out of each action of man. This majority doctrine. past and present. He is. at the beginning of time there is nothing and no-one.signalled the victory of the true faith against paganism. the story of biological evolution is the accepted explanation for the origin of man.
Son and Holy Spirit. the source. progressing upwards to modern man as the child matures. because God is moral. Evolution. History is about 59 . and then perhaps the early Irish.his justice. long before the days of Darwin and Teilhard de Chardin. his judgements are delayed and measured since he is not willing that any should perish. and the overall history curriculum in a very marked way. mercy and love. like the vast bulk of our contemporary culture. Though God is the ultimate cause and the power behind all historical movements and events man is far from passive in this grand story. but. and the limited nature of our vision of history may lead us astray. Man is an actor who is the immediate. therefore. which. the answer to this question highlights the difference between an explicitly Christian curriculum and our present National Curriculum. Man’s ability to shape history is a God-given gift. and maybe the Vikings are studied after this. is humanistic. He directs what he wants to happen according to his character . From primary school onwards the biological evolution of man impacts provides a template or guide for the social evolution of man. history is moral in its ebbs and flows. Historical events are shaped by the will of God. it is a river coursing from the hilltops to the sea. has more than just a beginning and an end. yet. though secondary cause. in his grace. Cave men are studied. is a pattern seen in much humanistic teaching since Rousseau. Since he is just he will bless the justcii and will by no means acquit the guiltyciii he will certainly punish the ungodly. has been a longestablished pillar in the edifice of state education and occupies this same hallowed position today in your local primary and secondary schools. History is not only personal. both social and biological. the driving force of history for the Christian and for the Christian curriculum is Christ. history is the story of the righteous and the unrighteous. thus. The studying of ‘primitive’ man and his societies in the child’s early years. believes that the driving force of history is God the Father.ci including the actions of man. The Creator-God and History The engine. What powers this stream of history? Again.civ The Implications of God’s Direction of History The Christian. History. It is the will of God that sustains the whole universe. the presupposition of evolution as the point of origin for man and history colours their teaching. Furthermore. a part of our reflection of God’s image. man-centred.the context of the secular school. of course. By its very nature history is about movement through time. Though appearances may deceive us. Moment-by-moment he shepherds history.
but sin is a disgrace to any people.impersonal forces have created man. then. undisputed controller of history would be an offense to atheists. Another way of saying that history is moral and is shaped by God and by man is to say that history is covenantal. 60 . it is about the antithesis. The moral actions of each these two ‘seeds’ serves. according to the terms of God’s covenant between God and man. “Righteousness exalts a nation.” While you won’t find a teacher. The book of proverbs sums the Christian view of history up as follows. History proceeds according to terms of God’s covenant with man as contained within the entire Bible. the clear implication of a godless history curriculum is that ultimately history is driven by the cold dark void from which the universe sprang. therefore. Although this lesson is not taught explicitly. Where then do we turn to find this driving force? By looking back to the presuppositions of the majority worldview that guides contemporary curriculum-makers. agnostics and to adherents of other religions. and man’s action. The self-creating universe. the great contrast between God and his ways and Satan and his ways.Nothing.” “In the beginning – nothing. we must be familiar with the terms of God’s covenant. In the beginning we find a bottomless pit with no beginning. to steer the ship of history to blessings or cursing for both individual and society. what is the driving force behind history according to this world-view? The Cold. the key to read the map drawn by God’s providence. These forces take the place of the Holy Trinity “in the beginning. evolution and chance . To posit the Bible’s God as the sole.”cv The engine of history for the Christian educator is the interplay of God’s will and nature. Dark Void of Humanistic History For the humanist the driving force of history can never be “God”. What. at least not the God of the Bible. State education is self-consciously unsectarian and professes not to favour any one religion over another. as stated in the Bible.the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. What do we find at the foundations of the edifice of man’s present-day thinking? The answer? . become the central reference book for the Christian historian. nature. its blessings and cursing for individuals and for nations. of humanistic history. The Bible must. If we are to understand history at all and rightly interpret its meaning. in the Old and New Testament. under God.
Not only is there no God above history. The contrast with the Christian view of history is. nor any direction or meaning from a personal creator. History in the light of evolution and the self-creating universe is absurd. in God’s eyes. This future-history is possible only because history is under the personal control of a fully-sovereign creator God. showing us not just what has been. In a self-consciously god-less curriculum God is. that final victory of God’s people in history and the defeat of Satan and his army. There is no accountability to any higher order. all of history. therefore. it is meaningless apart from man’s imposition of a temporary. These forces might be Hegelianism – the conflict between families. is a book of history. instrumental meaning.cvi It could be the inevitability of progress or the unity of all men as men. chronological or poetical order to explain something about how God relates to man. It shows us the culmination of history in the last battle. In this worldview man. his labour is in vain. Since God is eternal and above history and time. without Christ. when understood in its own terms. as for man’s efforts to influence history and understand the processes that drive history. for the Christian school on one hand and for the unbelieving educator on the other? The Aim of Christian History The Bible. The blind force might be called dialectical materialism.or a textbook or an educational psychologist explicitly teaching this idea. sharp. already happened and has. the conflict of class against class. out of the picture. the great actor in history. the story of the conflict of blind forces. including its end has. and. the fight of the fittest against the unfit or the fight for the preservation of the favoured races in the struggle for life. there is. Great battles and earthquakes and floods are mentioned also and are all dated carefully and arranged in literary. amoral forces. It recounts family histories and the rise and fall of kingly lines. then. Where does the stream of history flow to. The great flow of history is about nothing in particular. or tribes or nations. the grand nihilism of evolution informs the history curriculum in a very real way. but also what will be. The Bible does more than suggest a possible future but lifts the veilcvii and shows us what will most certainly happen. 61 . nothing above man in history. is fathered by nothing and guided by blind. It might be evolution. The Bible gives us the history yet to come in the Revelation of John. Since it is a book inspired by God it has an eternal perspective. by definition. Nihilism and total absurdity lie aback of the study of history. in a renewed tower of Babel. quite literally. History is.
the State. come from man. then who is there above this god whose authority can be appealed to? If the god of a worldview or a philosophy creates its rules. covenantal and very much concerned with the interaction of God and man and his revealed will for man in the Bible. If collective man in the state is truly god. who can speak against 62 . has reason.cviii The end of history. by voting in an election. happened since before the creation of the world. there are. Inotherwords. then the the humanist’s “Emmanuel. Collective man has become the operational source of direction for history. as the most powerful incarnation of the most highly evolved animal is. is personal. or the end must. and the state is god. this has great ramifications for the cause of freedom. not at Bethlehem. Individualism and existentialism. for the consistent thinker.from God’s perspective outside of time. only individual people and collections of people. Existentialism. The aim of history must come from one of these two groups.” “god with us’ descends. for the State educator whose history curriculum is written according to the wisdom of this age? Man has only himself in the universe. a kind of god walking upon the earthcix. like its course. In order to transcend this narrow focus on self alone. are. therefore. moral. The goal. only man. but at Westminster or Stormont or Washington D. Collective man expresses his collective will in the opinion poll or by phoning into a talk-radio programme or. therefore. The forces that gave birth to him are silent and unthinking. they have no mind to even point the way to the future. concretely. either from man as an individual or from collective man. Man as an individual can only have a personal history. according to this world and life view. Because they are unthinking. supremely. in both theory and practice. the only conscious and seeing being in the universe. anti-historical and enemies to the pursuit of history. ‘Man’ is an abstract idea. The Aim of Humanistic History What end and what goal is there for the humanist. they cannot see into the future. When the end of history is the state. If the god of this worldview can be said to be collective man. man must look to collective man for the aims and goals of history. Since these forces are blind. concerns itself with the individual and their concerns in the moment. necessarily.C. so dominant in today’s culture.
is the end of an non-Christian history. History will. reach different conclusions. One can never propose more than one has assumed as a first principle. rests upon pre-theoretical assumptions that inform the origins. Not only is the creation 63 . but the creation has a very personal aspect to it. every species and all phenomena have meaning and purpose in relation to the person of God. “physical features of the earth”. Geography Geography. pragmatic & uncontroversial about “the study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere. in this context. or the Reformers fighting the Libertines over a disagreement as to the population density of Geneva.”cxii In the book of Judges we are told that the stars fought against Siseracxiii. like all other subjects in the curriculum. Tyranny. aims and the practice of that subject. provide conflicting answers to this question. and of human activity as it affects and is affected by these. but there is no morality in history. however. having studied the same mountain.the divine state? When the transcendent Creator God of the Bible is reduced to a mere curiosity. The bond between nature and the creator is a personal one. necessarily. above the law it creates. Not only is the Creator personal not abstract. Geography. what could be more value-neutral. then. “nature” is simply a collective nouncxi and might more accurately be labelled ‘the creation. is concerned first of all with the natural realm. according to the dictionary definition. not only is there no meaning. What. lend support to a tyrannical state who is. ecosystem or form of society. and industries?”cx It is hard to imagine the Church Fathers meeting to do battle with the heretics over the issue of land use in Crete. surely tend towards statism and will. These opposing conclusions spring from opposing philosophical and religious presuppositions. including the distribution of populations and resources. from opposing worldviews or religions. is the proper Christian view of “Nature?” A Christian curriculum and the State curriculum may well. land use. A consistent Christian and a consistent humanist or animist or Buddhist must. Geography. then. In the Psalms the rivers are urged to “clap their hands” and the mountains to “sing for joy. The Creator God and Geography For the Christian. as law-giver.’ The creation and the natural realm cannot be separated from the King of creation.
can impose meaning upon nature and then use nature to further his own ends.spoken of in anthropomorphic. It groans. may be explicitly identified with nature. Since the national curriculum is informed by the wider culture and since it is emphatically not a Christian curriculum. he must exist in a limited way. nature is a cold.cxiv At the consummation of creation. Northern Ireland’s state curriculum is both shapes and is shaped by contemporary secular. ‘nature’ may be ascribed god-like abilities in a casual. awaiting for the covenant-keepers. in Revelation chapters four and five. For them nature is not god. a Christian view of Geography. through the scientific method. Or. How often has ‘mother nature’ been cited as the cause of this or that natural disaster? How often have we heard newscasters describe how nature has ‘taught man a lesson’ for his pride? Many non-Christians who use the term “nature” deny and attack the concept of God. as a result. or covenantal. A God-less Geography The contemporary non-Christian view of nature is somewhat different from the Christian view. more broadly. and have. as against this. to a greater or lesser extent by the great majority of people in our contemporary society. according to God’s word. Only a creator God who made all things from nothing can exist outside of nature. but also in moral or covenantal terms. suffering under the curse because of man’s Fall in Adam. Gaia worship or pantheism. as in deep ecology. Not only did the stars take sides but. creation is said to “groan”. relationship to its God and to man. meaningless tangle of brute facts. Since there is no God. inside of nature. God. to be revealed. ‘Nature’ or another ‘god’ must have ‘created’ man. whether that of nature as god. all of creation gathers before the throne and every creature. by his reason. humanistic thought. one of the three 64 . As for God. it may prove more fruitful to look. including men and angels and beasts cry out to God in praise. These views. nature as a quasipersonal figure capable of ‘teaching man a lesson’ or nature as a cold and dark and mechanical force are all held. For them. the sons of God. Only as only thinks in a consistently Christian manner. at contemporary society’s view of Geography and the natural world. if he exists. whether Christian or non-Christian. can one hold to Christian view of nature. Only man. there is no god. The whole of the created order has a quasi-personal and moral. quasi-personal terms. unthinking fashion. as in childbirth. as he is understood in the light of contemporary views of nature. Rather than dealing with the many particulars of the curriculum’s handling of Geography.
covenantal terms. was breathed upon by God and anointed to be over all of creation.cxviii Man’s actions in terms of settlement and exploitation of the land are to be understood in moral. with the appearance of age. unlike the rest of creation. man is part of the natural world. contemporary culture and the humanistic State education system both assume and teach that the world is incalculably old and was shaped. will assume and teach that our world is young and overwhelmingly shaped in its physical geography by the flood of Noah and the aftermath thereof. its development from its inception until the present day? The Biblical account of the origins of the natural world. He is to interact with the natural realm in obedience to God. which is unwilling to compromise with the Bible-denying view of the world given us by Darwin and Lyell. Equally unpopular and second in order of geography-shaping importance. Man himself moves from being the central figure in the creation to being very much a latecomer who is shaped by his evolutionary antecedents. For the Christian. gradually over aeons of time. up until the publication of Darwin’s book. having dominion over the natural world and developing it as God’s agent. taking the six days of creation to be six literal days. is the flood of Noah that destroyed the pre-flood world and helped shape the geography and climate of the world as we know it today.cxvi in the space of six days and all very good. Geography and Man.cxv The world was created. to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. if he exists retreats into the mists of time. Geography and Creation.cxvii God. Man. subduing it and having dominion it over in obedience to God’s first command. As against the Biblical view. in terms of God’s command. rather than being shaped by the hand of God. and Evolution What about the origins of the natural world.non-Christian ideas of ‘nature’ is present in some measure in the Geography curriculum. made of the dust of the earth and yet set apart by God. Humanist and Christian What about human interaction with the natural world? The second element of geography is just as important as the first and is just as revelatory of the chasm which separates the Christian curriculum from the State curriculum. in a Christian world and life view. Not doing this is disobedience 65 . was held by the great majority of Orthodox believers. A Christian curriculum. Man has a sacred and royal duty to care for and to develop the creation.
for the unbeliever. the future is unclear. from stone age to bronze age to iron age. We are. by his own reason. The Goal of Geography. however. moment-by-moment control. Christian and Humanist What is the goal or end of Geography for the humanist on one hand and for the Christian on the other hand? The Christian need not puzzle long over the future. man advanced.cxxvi Christ’s gloriously perfected new-creation body is the guarantee that we. furthermore. from cave to hut to palace to the Stormont assembly. or else cower before. At the end of time. The future of man is assured by God’s sovereign. renewed in the twinkling of an eyecxxv and that he will live in a renewed heavens and earth. Man is supremely powerful compared to his fellow-beasts and yet his power makes him 66 .cxix The interaction of man with the natural world is. This myth is a powerful influence on the “man and society” aspect of the State Geography curriculum and powerfully colours the history curriculum as well. Man. Cain built a city.and rebellion against God’s will. It is interesting to note how quickly culture advanced from its humble beginnings with a young couple. standing naked in a garden. From hunter-gatherers. The Christian knows that all creation will be changed.cxxiv Man is not directed by God in his interactions with the earth.cxxi a complex settlement. and all creation will be re-created. He can ruthlessly lay to waste the natural realm as his own law. arises from nature and has no special Godordained relationship to the nature from which he arises.cxxviii For the humanist. All he need do is to turn to the last book of the Bible. even now. Man’s social evolution mirrors his biological evolution. civilisation and technology are latecomers to the life of man. It is man’s biology or his animal ancestry that defines him and it is reason or irrationality that drives him. evolving from simplicity to complexity. all of the natural world will join in praise to God the Father around the throne. it in fear of the spirits which control it. Adam’s sons became arable and pastoral farmerscxx. Christ is the firstfruits of this new creation. to arable farmers. and Adam’s grandchildren were working with metalcxxii and had invented stringed and woodwind instrumentscxxiii. new creations in Christcxxvii having been renewed by his Spirit. In this world-view man is a latecomer to the earth and. for the thinking Christian a matter of intense moral concern. This sits awkwardly with the modern myth of the evolutionary development of man and society.
immense and unbridgeable. it’s not fit for sitting on. that of making a history or a geography curriculum. Man is the destroyer and yet man is the saviour too. Whatever the future is. This is particularly true of collective man organised together in the State. At every point. There is a sharp line of division between Christian and ungodly education. be looked upon as an area of indifference for the Christian. in any way.’ The Necessary Antithesis in Geography and History From this brief survey of history and geography. superficial. it is evident that these two subjects cannot. State legislation and supranational bodies are looked on to save man by legislation and accords. must ensure their children are educated into a Christian worldview by a Christian curriculum. The difference between a Christian and a Christless curriculum is. be equally opposed to one another. 67 . in turn. from the starting point to the finishing goal. it is firmly in man’s hands. they demonstrate. in their curricula. or an area of neutrality. particular instances of a general. the humanistic and the Christian view of history and geography are at war with each other.vulnerable to self-annihilation. The fence has spikes on it. This is something that State schools can never and will never do and is something that. where nothing of value is at stake. if they are to give their children a believing education. When the two worldviews set themselves to a common task. man risks destroying the planet and himself. Any history or geography curriculum which properly transmits a Christian or an humanistic worldview will. fundamental opposition to each other’s first principles. Whether in President Obama’s green initiatives or in the U.N. do not even claim to do. as great as the difference between true and false religion. or eating beef. as understood Biblically and as it is understood by contemporary society. modern man’s faith in the State and in supra-national bodies to save the world is matched only by our cynicism about politicians. Whether by nuclear warfare or driving fast cars. to their credit. Believers. in fact.’s Kyoto protocol. Any superficial resemblances are just that. whether that future be total death or ‘sustainable development. The chasm between the views of education which the Christian religion holds on one hand and the doctrine of education which the religion of man espouses on the other hand is vast.
perhaps. At some points its view of spirituality and morality appears to run against the Bible’s own outlook and at other points it is more clearly opposed to the gospel of Christ. ought to be done? Before answering that question. Its tone is set by the all-pervading core principles of the curriculum. cannot allow the Bible to “be itself”. The best assembly will cause confusion.E. teachers have no freedom to alter the core message the curriculum conveys. the emotions. In the light of what has been discussed. R. dealing with the mind. R. spirituality and the physical side of life. the most pervasive and influential document in all of Northern Ireland. it is. has no voice of its own. is unable to redeem the situation. Why Christians Need a Distinctly Christian Education . we shall recap on what has been said thus far.E. only one of the many resources from which the child can draw to direct his spiritual development to desired ends. it makes no pretensions of being a ‘Christian’ document. binding word of the only true God.The Present State Curriculum is not Christian The Northern Ireland Revised curriculum is an all-encompassing document. Despite dealing with spirituality throughout the curriculum. The spirituality that overarches religious education does not need Christ. Although the revised curriculum allows great flexibility in the implementation of the curriculum.E. education must be put into practice. practically.E. 68 . what.cxxx . the worst assembly may mislead children even before school-proper begins. in principle. not just contemplated.Chapter VI The Way Ahead For Christian Education Educate is a doing word. though it may borrow some of his well known phrases. the authoritative. before moving to the doing. R.E. Cannot Redeem the Curriculum’s Deficiencies Northern Ireland is blessed with many teachers who go to Church and who can lead school assemblies and teach R.Neither Christian Teachers nor R.cxxix It is.
Regardless of the physical presence of saved pupils and staff. . Many of these objections. A secular humanist curriculum is designed to produce children and young people that think and feel and act like secular humanists. Jesus’ law of the garden means that trees will bring forth fruit according to their kind.A Humanist Curriculum Produces Humanist Children The Christian curriculum is a building constructed according to God’s blueprints. the ministry of the sword. State education remains humanistic in its origins. the middle and the end of the whole educative process. aims and goals. Parents and the Church are to direct and support education. Those who admit it is in theory possible deny its desirability and reject the suggestion that God. The Christian religion produces a Christian curriculum while secular humanism produces a secular and humanist curriculum. 69 . spring from a polluted well. in His word.cxxxii The good tree will produce good fruit and the bad tree will produce bad fruit. despite the prayers and the hymns and the homilies in assemblies. Christianity plus man-centred philosophy and religion. He and His Word are at the beginning. It revolves around the Godhead and the person of Christ in particular. however.cxxxi .God Has a Plan for Education. originating within and without the walls of the Church leaves the reader blind to the clear supremacy of Christ in the realm of knowledge. mandates Christian education. Subject matter taught in a Christian way may resemble other un-Christian curricula but appearances in this case are deceptive. Christ comes first. leaving the State to retreat to its proper sphere.. God’s plan puts the parents in control as the true Ministry of Education. State Education Opposes His Plan God has a plan for education that is very different from the mancentred plan implicit in the Northern Ireland Curriculum. The presence of live cows in an abattoir does not make it a green field. wisdom and all subject matter. According to the maker’s drawings. The very possibility of Christian education and a Christian curriculum is denied or questioned.Objections to Christian Education Come From a Tainted Evangelicalism At this point many sincere Christians raise objections. The teaching of every subject area in the State school and Christian school are as different as Biblical Christianity is from secular humanism.
Christian values have gone from being predominant in society. to where popular culture and the political establishment has sidelined Christianity entirely and is increasingly anti-Christian in principle and practice. leading the culture way from God and his word and his ways. The problem with the status quo it doesn’t exist. Education has. to being influential. with healing the wounds that the briar patch has made with its scratching and tearing at Christian virtues and Christian doctrines and the Christian God? What kind of action should we take in the light of this challenge? Standing Still or Moving Out? In the light of Christ’s Lordship in education. as part of that culture. The only place where time stands still is in a graveyard.Better to Kill the Spider Than Keep Brushing the Cobwebs Those who do develop Christian minds. perhaps. It is impossible to freeze time. As the “status quo” has changed it has moved at an ever-quickening pace away from God’s Word towards man’s words as the source of knowledge and public policy. . the faithful. . emphatically. including cultural movement. to being in the minority and. In the land of the living there is movement. To seek to maintain the status quo in education is like seeking a permanent peace between God and Satan. Education. It is to ignore the necessity of conflict between the religion of man and the religion of God. tax funded school system for a long time. followed the general culture in its movement away from God and is. he’s an expert negotiator and has even tried 70 . Satan is very happy to broker that truce. believing Christian can either stand still and work within the status quo or move ahead and try to find a solution outside state education. in the vanguard. between the Church and the World.There is no Peace Between God and Satan The present revised curriculum represents nothing less than the establishment of the religion of humanism. The problem is systemic. Those who want to make the humanist tree produce Christian fruit are guilty of willing a briar-patch to produce apples. in our own day..There is no Status Quo Christians have been standing still and living with the status quo of a state-controlled. do so in spite of the schools and not because of them. How long will we be satisfied with remediation. is moving either towards God or away from Him in rebellion.
implicitly or explicitly set up another philosophy or worldview as the source and ground of learning. least of all education. Sadly.cxxxv while still imbibing the teachings of secular humanism transferred through textbook. Filling a bookmaker’s shop with Christians doesn’t make it a Church. The sacrifice of paying for your own education. The only 71 . It is perhaps a greater sleight to God to ignore him systematically than doing Him the courtesy of defying him openly. State-approved textbooks. they ignore him. The kind of Christ that can be worshipped on Sunday and ignored on schooldays is just about small enough to fit into a school blazer pocket without him poking his head out the top. History and in other key subjects? A halfway house. how much more do state schools damn God by ignoring him in Geography. therefore. They have seen the symptoms and have attacked them vigorously. the worst of all possible worlds. While the imitation Jesus is happy being hidden out of sight. Education is the forming. very possibly. There is no neutrality between God and Satan in any area. the real Jesus demands His rightful place at the centre of the school and demands that all false ideas are put under His feet or cut in pieces with the sword that comes out of His mouth. curriculum and through teacher training is tragically inadequate. the curriculum. Children are removed from the bad influences of unbelieving children and unbelieving teachers.E. more than any other single element. crucially. the statutory and non-statutory guidance issued with regard to education do not point at Christ. Standing Still While Moving Forward Others have rejected the status quo and have realised the profoundly harmful effects of godless education.bargaining with the incarnate Son of God. One denomination in Northern Ireland has led the way and built its own schools. moulding and shaping of the generation to come. What defines a school. More time is given to assemblies and a more Christian emphasis is given to R. the centre and foundation of learning Instead. state funded teacher-training. which withdraws children from the world into the Church. If you can damn someone with faint praise. free-atthe-point-of-entry education.cxxxiii All he asks for in return for peace is that we bow down and worship him. having a school near a Church or singing more hymns doesn’t make a school a Christian school.cxxxiv Just as Christ answered Satan with “It is written” we must turn to the scriptures when we deal with the world’s offer of a value-free. separate from the state sector. adding more religion to a curriculum created and certified by the world is. is.
which truly presses on to the higher calling of the Lord in education requires a self-consciously Christian curriculum in every subject area. and in poorer countries: the Ivory Coast. Each of these countries have Christian schools and homeschoolscxxxvi functioning day-by-day. Switzerland and Australia.K. We are neither too poor nor too developed to create our own Christian schools here in wee Ulster. and Europe even offers a turnkey solution. week-by-week. on every continent of the world. and Ireland. only a curriculum which is at all points Christian in its aims. English literature and French. We do not lack the means to give Christ His proper place in education although it is equally evident that we presently lack the vision and the will to do so. Ghana and in India too. There are several Presbyterian and Reformed curricula and Baptist curricula on the market. The pioneering work has been done and the textbooks. 72 . the U. or a pipe dream. in the light of God’s greatness and self-revelation in the Holy Word of God. The leading supplier of Christian education resources in the U. Charismatics and Pentecostals are perhaps the most active Christian-school builders in all of the U. something that could never be accomplished in this world but. which at all points. Moving Forward to Freedom Surely. around the clock in both the most developed countries. means and ends is acceptable? A Christ-centred curriculum may sound like a flight of fancy. We must start moving forward if we are not to come last in the race marked out for us. There is no need to re-invent the wheel and pour huge resources into writing textbooks on History.way forward. supplying everything from teacher training to school furniture!cxxxvii There Are No Insuperable Barriers to Christian Education . seeks to relate the world and knowledge to his person as creator and sustainer of the world.No Denominational Barrier There is no denominational barrier to starting an evangelical Christian school in Northern Ireland.K.S. Maths. workbooks and manuals of school organisation can be bought off the shelf for immediate use. Christ the King can only be pleased by a curriculum. this is demonstrably not the case. Teachers are teaching from Christian curricula every day.
cxxxviii .No Parental Barrier There is no parental roadblock to Christian schooling. The Greatest Barrier to Christian Education Practically. it is just like the rest of the Christian religion. and is just as acceptable in God’s sight. Inotherwords. Some parents are highly-qualified academically while others have no university training and both have successfully raised children who can properly function as Christians in today’s world. However. Some home-educators and Christian schoolteachers have had backgrounds in teaching while others do not. Year after year Christian education has been shown to work in the real world with real parents and real children. or for those confident in their own abilities or in their own righteousness. The call to embrace Christian education is utterly radical and counter-cultural and is likely to earn you the contempt of some and the misunderstanding of others. colleges and universities and have done well in tertiarylevel educationcxxxix. or a dozen schools. Home-educated children have successfully entered into U. It has worked in favour of the children and in favour of the families at every level of the educational spectrum. It has worked academically. 73 . to the middle class. no one will do something so counter-cultural and so costly in time and money just because they can. a deep conviction from God and the offer of an alternative. It is not for those who are undecided whether Jesus is Lord or not. to the less well off. morally and spiritually. Christian education is part of the wider call to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. or even a hundred schools if the desire for such a solution existed. there is no barrier to the creation of one school.. They have to have a burning desire. viable means of education.K.No Teacher-Training Barrier There is no insurmountable barrier of teacher-training qualifications to Christian education. . both groups have proved taught their children with a considerable measure of success. Christian homeschooling and Christian home education have all been tried and tested by a variety of parents from the very well off.No Barrier to Further Education There is no barrier to academic progression for those without traditional State certifications.
cxl Inform yourself.cxlv Consider the Germans who were willing to go through a Christian teacher-training course in a foreign language to be equipped to teach their children. Get in touch with Christian Education Europe. about religious education and about morality.cxlii Get in touch with a Christian school with a Christian curriculum in the U. who have such freedoms by birth ought to be zealous in doing God’s will for our children and grandchildren and nephews and nieces. Consider also those families who have moved from mainland Europe to Northern Ireland for the freedom to educate their little ones in conformity to the word of God in Christian home-schools. inform yourself about God’s requirements for education. the full text is freely available online. or Ireland. religion or morality truly squares with the Bible’s standards.cxliii If you want to read about some of the pioneers in the creation of Christian schools in the U.K. and share your concerns with them.K. arrange to drop into the school. Also. email them.cxli Find out what it says about spirituality. meditate on those passages listed in this book. Read “The Love of God in Classroom.” It’s a very readable book that tells the story of the birth of a number of Christian schools. 74 . order some of their curriculum materials. There are several resources that will help in your understanding of God’s plan for education. Consider how they are seeking first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness in education and think how we.If you are determined to know the mind of Christ in this area and count the cost of involvement in perhaps the most relevant area of ministry in today’s world how should you proceed? Practical Steps to Take We are told to “count the cost” before undertaking a significant undertaking.K.cxlvi They are climbing the mountain of paperwork and hacking through a forest of red tape to be able to create a Christian school simply to be able to educate their own children and grandchildren in their home country. Find out as much as possible about the revised curriculum. and Europe.cxliv the leading provider of Christian curriculum materials in the U. Ask yourself if the curriculum spirituality. read their website or talk to one of their representatives. Consider the German families who were prepared to go to prison rather than to send their children to the State schools.
Let us invest in creating schools that will set the light of Christ on a hill for all to see right here in the Province. too. Let’s continue to be generous. defying the god of secular humanism. Patrick. If theology is there to be applied. the kingdom work of God is the work of the body of Christ.K. Let us be like St. I have been the recipient of the generosity of mission-minded friends and colleagues and Churches. not forgetting our own back yard. who lit the paschal fire on the hill of Tara. in defiance of Druids and of tradition and of the sun-god. how are we to apply God’s Word to the field of education? How will the Word become flesh in the classrooms of wee Ulster? We in Northern Ireland are most willing to give to foreign missions. Let us rise up in the strength of God and build faithful Christian schools for the sake of God and for His glory that His kingdom might be built in the six counties of our beloved wee Ulster. I cannot build a school.There is no abstract theology in the scripture. Let us invest in our children and be prepared to open our doors to those of every denomination and every religion and each ethnic background that they. 75 . if we are moved by God’s Holy Spirit can. Perhaps the greatest and hardest mission field is in the U. but we. No Bible verse exists to tickle our ears and give us warm fuzzy feelings. and Europe and among the formerly-Churched of Northern Ireland. It’s all there to instruct and to encourage us to work and to worship to the glory of God in the here and now of Northern Ireland with its rain and drizzle and occasional bright spells. might learn the wonderful works of God in the world. Let us light a bigger fire. I cannot build a school.
Convention on the Rights of the Child. 2 Nannies in Blue Berets: Understanding the U. 3 Nannies in Blue Berets: Understanding the U.americanhumanist. Rather. 6 The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3. p. with a view to applying it to their own subject-areas. Rationale and Detail p. 2 The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3. They are.D. University of London. Rationale and Detail v vi vii viii ix x xi p. International Rights of the Child.” The answer is. J.N. HSLDA xiv xiii p. Convention on the Rights of the Child. 139-140 (2006). but. this will mean. J.D. to replace the worship of God and prayer to God with a naturalistic. not a replacement of a top-heavy centralised school-system. Convention on the Rights of the Child. however. If we define spirituality as religious emotions it is very possible to take about a humanistic spirituality. Farris.N. required to be re-train themselves and be familiar with the document. Rationale and Detail p. a decentralised parent-funded parent-directed education. The text of the first humanist manifesto can be found here: www. HSLDA p. Section B.org/who_we_are/about_humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_I p. 45 The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3. very openly in the first Humanist Manifesto. Michael P. HSLDA xii Geraldine Van Bueren. Michael P. Michael P. Rationale and Detail p. Farris. 45 The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3. Farris.N. rather. 6 The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3. Luke 11:23 iii iv Humanism may in principle deny supernatural religion but. Farris. 3 Nannies in Blue Berets: Understanding the U. it does recognise religious emotions and seeks. J. the Biblical response is to ask the question “who IS responsible for education. man-centred alternative. 2 Nannies in Blue Berets: Understanding the U. the parents. HSLDA xv 77 . Michael P.Endnotes i This does not mean that I advocate a top-down takeover of the school system. Convention on the Rights of the Child.D. J. therefore.N. Rationale and Detail 1 John 4:1 p. ii Teachers who have not qualified recently will not have been trained in the Revised curriculum for four years.D.
Rationale and Detail Judges 21:25. 40 The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3.000 hours of programmed schooling plus the other ungodly influences in their lives? xxxii The god who appears in R.spurgeon. Convention on the Rights of the Child.org/misc/gfw.org.” He paints a picture of the Church being like a stagecoach hurtling at breakneck speed over the Russian Steppes. Thus he pictures the threat to the Church from outside and inside. Ninth and Tenth Points. “Old Time Schools and Schoolhouses. 1 Kings 18:27. The text is freely available here: www. Spurgeon paints and vivid picture of this struggle against unbelief in his short book “The Greatest Fight in the World. J. it seems. Rationale and Detail p. whom Elijah ruthlessly mocked.ofmdfmni. Many of the textbooks listed in this work were of English origin and are remarkable in the prominence they give to the Bible in maths. just like the Baal. 43rd sess. ready to rip the horses and passengers into pieces.N. xxvi C. Is this true? Are the schools helping or hindering? What is the present state of the Church in Northern Ireland? Whatever answers satisfied us before sound very hollow as against black and white reality of the revised curriculum. Religious Education has become R. Farris. CRC/C/IRL/CO/2 (2006) xviii xix xx xxi xxii xvii p.gov.” www..xvi p.S. HSLDA Paragraph 39 and 40.uk/old-time-schools/ which focuses mostly on the history of American education is revealing in this regard. Doc. Revelation 3:16 Matthew 5:13 xxiii xxiv xxv More research needs to be done in looking at the past curricula in denominational schools in Northern Ireland. U.htm. ??? The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3. ??? The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3.htm p.D. King James Version I am aware that R. What are we Christians doing to help our children to survive school? Is your Sunday school any match for 15..org/who_we_are/about_humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_I xxx xxxi These are legally binding by virtue of the U.K. A pack of wolves are chasing the coach. Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Ireland. Rationale and Detail The Humanist Manifesto I. Rationale and Detail http://www. literacy and numeracy.N. 2 Nannies in Blue Berets: Understanding the U. being a signatory to these documents. Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:3 xxxiii xxxiv 78 . and disappears afterwards is.H. xxvii xxviii xxix p. www. 45 The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3. The older term has been retained as a convenient shorthand. Religious Studies.E.childrensnursery..americanhumanist. Committee on the Rights of the Child.E. Michael P. The Churches solution? to discard some of the passengers to save the rest.uk/index/equality/statutory-duty/section_75.
Genesis 25:19 Isaac. were spared. doing that which God had mandated and had written into their natures. Deuteronomy 6:5 Deuteronomy 6:6. even in their rebellious manner. and Genesis 37:2 Jacob. Genesis 11:10 Shem. but.xxxv xxxvi Genesis 1:28 I am aware that the three men here mentioned were of an ungodly line. Genesis 10:1 the sons of Noah. the children. Genesis 36:1 Esau. Genesis 25:12 Ishmael. Genesis 9:12 Genesis 18:19 Exodus 20:2-17 Deuteronomy 6:2 Every adult was destroyed.7 Psalm 78:2-8 Psalm 1:1 xl xli xlii xliii xliv xlv xlvi xlvii xlviii xlix l li lii liii liv lv lvi lvii lviii lix lx lxi Psalm 127:3 1 Samuel 3:13 Proverbs 1:7 Proverbs 8:18 Proverbs 22:15 Colossians 2:3 Romans 11:36 Colossians 1:17 John 1:1 John 14:6 John 8:32 Luke 18:16 Luke 17:2 79 . they were still. by God’s grace. Genesis 3:15 Genesis 9:1 xxxvii xxxviii xxxix The Generations of: Genesis 2:4 The heavens and the earth . Genesis 5:1 Adam. Genesis 6:9 Noah. Genesis 11:27 Terah.
uk/state-school-costs. noting their concern for the establishment of schools. ed. the Methodist Edgehill Theological College and Belfast Bible College would have to go elsewhere for accreditation and the ability to offer Undergraduate degrees and accredited Postgraduate awards.lxii lxiii lxiv lxv Luke 10:27 Matthew 28:18-20 Ephesians 6:4 Douglas Wilson in first essay of his book “The Paideia of God: And Other Essays on Education. still valid in our day.prca.org/icce. therefore. © Kingsway Music.org/articles/article_3. This is. in some cases. It is very possible. http://www.asci. Christian hymns can. lxxix lxxx See above comment about computer companies who offer training. Although this text is not a cast-iron guarantee of the salvation of a child. Without the Institute of Theology the Presbyterian Union Theological College.” Dave Bryant. lxxi Luther's Works. lxxviii It is interesting to note that in the computing world Microsoft™. it is certainly does point to the correlation between early training in the way and continued fidelity in that way. ‘Cultic’ in the sense of that which is related to a system of religious worship and ritual.christian-education. Volume 44. www.html lxxii lxxiii lxxiv lxxv lxxvi lxxvii See Matthew 16:6-12. is to be applied in the formal education of children. Eavey’s book “History of Christian Education” has high praise for German pietists. International. that an unbeliever rules over the Christian in the teaching of academic theology. lxxxi lxxxii Association of Christian Schools. lxviii lxix lxx Lyric taken from “I Serve a Risen Saviour” Alfred H. Quoted in http://www.org.co.fundingeducation. “Jesus Take Me As I Am.ac. 2 Corinthians 10:5 lxvi lxvii C. It is helpful to note that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. to name but one.html 80 . especially verse 12 1 Peter 2:9 http://www. 1978. 1966). find their inspiration elsewhere.” Develops the meaning of the Paideia and its relation to education in Paul’s day and how this injunction. 207. I submit a lamentable and foolish arrangement. Comtia™ and Cisco™ all provide their own programmes of professional accreditation without the aid of the state.uk/schools/InstituteofTheology/ has no requirement that its staff hold to the orthodox Christian faith. For example the Queens University of Belfast Institute of Theology http://www. James Atkinson (Philadelphia: Fortress Press.html Galatians 6:8 Mark 8:38 Proverbs 22:6.B.qub. Ackley.
and may enter in by the gates into the city.+ culum. “What is the work of Creation?” Hebrews 1:3 There are over five hundred references to the words ‘bless’. Question 1 John Dunphy. They used a series of tactics. lies.. A History of Education from 1760 2nd Ed. Jan/Feb 1983 xcv xcvi xcvii xcviii xcix I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith Howard C. spiritually and materially by God. and some blessings are given. course of action. through scripture. threats. Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who do his commandments. 1961. or the Preservation of Favoured 81 . to curr(ere) to run + -i. to those who neither know nor serve God. All blessings are of grace. The last scriptural reference to the blessings for obedience will suffice as an example of God’s blessing.” Based on the Random House Dictionary. equiv. c The answer to question nine of the Westminster Shorter Catechism and question fifteen of the Westminster Larger Catechism. The Humanist. race. in grace. of course. 2009 Hebrews 12:1 Proverbs 15:24 The Westminster Shorter Catechism. Random House. chariot. the picture is that of the man who is declared good by God and who does good in faith and obedience who is then blessed. Revised. Barnard. xci xcii xciii xciv Matthew 28:20 Exodus 20:6 Romans 12:2 “action of running.lxxxiii lxxxiv lxxxv lxxxvi lxxxvii Colossians 3:1 1 Peter 2:9 Revelation 1:6 2 Corinthians 10:5 Genesis 3:5 1 Corinthians 3:11 John 16:33 lxxxviii lxxxix xc Sanballat and Haran were the enemies of Nehemiah and of his rebuilding programme. Exodus 34:7 2 Peter 3:9 Proverbs 14:34 ci cii ciii civ cv cvi Up to the fifth edition of Darwin’s seminal work the “Origin of the Species” was called “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. that they may have the right to the tree of life. However. ‘blessings’ and ‘blessed’ in the word of God. political intrigue and finally attempted murder to get Nehemiah to stop building.
itself. In the closed world of paganism there is a “chain of being. had the appearance of age. another example of a collective noun is ‘furniture. because it flatly denies that man the possibility to move up the chain of being and become like a god. see Ephesians 1:4ff. cviii One instance of this total sovereign predestination of God of the realm of history is our salvation. The former view is. in the Biblical account. There is movement on this chain of being. cix The hugely influential German philosopher Hegel. was created with the appearance of age.” The outward espousing of Racial discrimination on biological grounds has become less popular than it was in Darwin’s day. in his book “The Philosophy of Right” said that. in like manner. It is a very old pagan idea. that is what the state is.” It is no great jump to call the state the humanist’s ‘god incarnate’ or the statist’s ‘Immanuel. cxvi Adam.” to which every living thing is attached. The whole cosmos. Psalm 98:8 Judges 5:20 Romans 8:18-25 cxii cxiii cxiv cxv Belief in an old earth is not new. cxviii cxix Genesis 1:26 The gathering together of man at the tower of Babel in rebellion to God and their subsequent dispersal by God after His confusion of their tongues is a good example of this punishment for not fulfilling the God-given mandate Genesis 4:2 Genesis 4:17 Genesis 4:22 cxx cxxi cxxii 82 . ‘The Apocalyse of John’ contains the idea of an unveiling of what would. up and down. in part at least. have been hidden to mortal eyes. a holder to store and assortment of different objects but which is not. evolving and de-evolving. a concrete thing in its own right. otherwise.’ ‘Furniture’ includes real. concrete things. Other “gods’ or spirits are part of nature. cxvii The older uniformitarianism of gradual change over countless ages is retreating in popularity. Special creation out of nothing by the God of the Bible is despised. chairs and bookcases but is not.’ Apple® OS X Dictionary cx cxi ‘Nature. “The march of God in the world. was created as a man. the most widely held of views. from the gods to the microbes to the devil. by itself. cvii The title of the book of Revelation. with all the faculties of strength and speech and senses of a man.’ properly understood. To clarify. being only newly created. Only the God of the Bible can create since only he stands outside of nature. giving way to the idea of local catastophies shaping the landscape. just as much as men and beasts are. He. an object. Darwinism is simply one manifestation of the revival of paganism in the western world. is just a collective noun. such as tables. probably.Races in the Struggle for Life.
cxlii Short.E. There is a very clear case that state schools must answer as to the quality of their own teachers and teaching programmes. "if you will bow down and worship me.org. Louis Berkhof. "All this I will give you. 2001. Edited by Dennis E. equivalent qualifications which are presently recognised by U. Foundations of Christian Education: Addresses to Christian Teachers. the temptation of Christ by the Devil in the desert. You don’t have to speak openly against Christ to be anti-Christian. universities. quite literally.guardian.C.” www. very clearly. They are orthodox.cxxiii cxxiv cxxv cxxvi cxxvii Genesis 4:1 Stormont is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly 1 Corinthians 15:52 1 Corinthians 15:23 2 Corinthians 5:17 Revelation 5:13 cxxviii cxxix cxxx p. in the U. after his baptism.schooloftomorrow.uk/ cxl cxli For Example. Rationale and Detail Anti-Christianity here is defined as setting up a rival to the Christianity.com curriculum materials. The Harsh Truth About Public Schools. Every year.nicurriculum.000 pupils leave school “functionally illiterate. 2 The Statutory Curriculum at Key Stage 3. cxxxviii These comments are anecdotal and reflect personal contact with homeschoolers.S. the limited role of the state in a godly order. 1990.org are suppliers of “Accelerated Christian Education. cxxxii cxxxiii cxxxiv Matthew 12:33 That is. I believe that they receive no direct state funding for their capital or running costs. around the world.co. Bruce N. P & R Publishing." he said.K.E and G. cxxxi Romans 13:1-7 is the ‘classic’ text in the Bible which outlines." Matthew 4:9 cxxxv I am not entirely sure about the financial operation of Free Presbyterian schools. Cornelius Van Til. 83 . Ross House Books. Positing a man-centred spirituality and morality is a replay of the sin of our first parents and is most certainly anti-Christian. www.C.” cxxxvii Christian Education Europe. cxxxvi Some home-educators have preferred to drop the title “school” and substitute “education” for school and “educator” for “teacher.uk/education/2007/jul/10/schools. Luke 14:28 http://www.christian-education.primaryeducation cxxxix Christian Education Europe offers both G. 100. Johnson.” www.K. Bible-believing and have a vision to support existing Christian Schools and homeschools here and.
M1. The Children Trap: The Biblical Blueprint for Educaiton. 1986.asp “German Homeschoolers Seek Asylum in America” http://www. Rousas J. Wilson. cxlvi 84 . Jefferson.. Gresham. Idaho.Google Book Search.Rushdoony. Intellectual Schizophrenia.com/books?id=KhlmBngU5FgC&printsec=frontcover&lr=&sig=W pu9jc7zYVjM9Gy9TNr_D2PtXjA#PPP1. including those in N. tel. Canon Press.com/node/1330 “Germany Imprisons Mum. Rousas J. Christian school and. Machen.. Moscow.christian-education. J. Robert L.org/hs/international/Germany/200907220. Fort Worth. Thoburn.org/schools.asp German Family Faces Trial.asp BATTLE ESCALATES OVER HOMESCHOOLED CHILD SEIZED BY SWEDISH GOVERNMENT A German family who I had the privilege of meeting in England were taking a teachertraining course to be licensed to teach an A. and Ireland and beyond.christian-education. (0)1793 783783 http://www. http://books. Dad and Kids Flee to Austria” http://www. 1961. Christian Schools and Homeschools in the U. Education.christian-education.brusselsjournal. n. Ireland and the Republic of Ireland see: http://www. Texas: Dominion Press.K. 1987. The Messianic Character of American Education: Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Education. For a list of Christian schools.E. 1963. and the State.hslda. Douglas. Rushdoony.C.google.org.html cxliv cxlv www. cxliii http://www. Ross House Books.d.org/ Christian Education Europe.org/hs/international/Germany/200806710. Possible Jail Time for Homeschooling See also http://www.org/docs/media/2010/201006250.hslda. The Paideia of God: And Other Essays . Vallecito. . Christianity. Maryland: The Trinity Foundation.hslda. for the sake of their children and grand-children were going the administrative hurdles to make the creation of this miniature school a possibility. California: Ross House Books.
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