As everyone is starting back for another school year, it is a good time to remind ourselves the purpose of education and the role we each play in it. Charles Spurgeon once said: “It has been said that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”
Even the founding charter of Harvard University stated, “Let every student well consider that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ.” Though Harvard has wandered quite a bit from that original charter statement, it is still a valid point.
For a believer, the main purpose of study is to know God, whether that is through science, philosophy, math, or art. The beautiful thing though is God made all of those things. God made chemistry, rocks, color, sound, plants, and animals so the study of those things will bring out the glory and wonder of our awesome creator. It should reveal to us the power of the God we serve.
Equally important is the study of God Himself. We must not neglect to learn who God is as He has revealed Himself to us in His word. We should study the very names of God that tell us His character. We should study His Word to see how God works in and through humanity, how He works all things together for our good and His glory, and how He fulfills His prophecies.
If these are to be the focus of our education, then who is responsible for that? Some would say schools are responsible for the academic pursuits of studying this world, and churches are responsible for the study of God and His word. B both of those are wrong. The main person responsible for BOTH categories of learning are the parents.
According to Deuteronomy 6:7, the command to “diligently” teach our children God’s commandments is clearly given to parents, not to another institution. God says that we should “talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” At all times parents should be teaching their children the commands and the ways of the Lord.
In Deuteronomy 4:9-10, it says, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’”
The expectation is that the parents are teaching their children the things of God. So when the “proper study of God’s elect is God” and the “main end of our life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ,” the parents are the ones responsible for providing that for their children.
Now this doesn’t mean that the parents must do that alone. The church can play a role in teaching our children about God and His Word. And schools can play a role in teaching our children about science, math, and history. However, the parent is the final responsible party for ensuring those institutions are providing the proper learning environment for their children – and for making changes if those institutions are failing to do so.
We can usually quickly identify that responsibility when it comes to academics. If a school is failing to teach reading and arithmetic, parents must step in to make changes to rectify that situation. But as believers, what do we do if the education of our children does not direct their hearts and their studies back to God? Or worse, what if the education of our children deliberates turns their hearts away from God?
We must understand the battle our children are facing so we can adequately prepare them. At one point, parents assumed that schools could be “neutral.” Children would be taught just the facts at school and then taught just God’s Word in church. That is no longer the case.
There is no such thing as neutral schooling. In fact, all schools are religious schools, promoting a certain worldview. While some schools may have Christian teachers, principals, and fellow classmates, the curriculum being taught is antithetical to the Gospel, whether it is Darwinian evolution, Critical Race Theory, LGBTQ+, moral relativism, postmodernism, socialism, or even just that God is irrelevant. Parents must be aware of the worldview being taught at these institutions.
There is also no longer a guarantee that churches are teaching God’s Word. Though the building may have the word “Church” or even “Christian” on the sign outside, it doesn’t mean God’s Word is truly being taught on the inside. Seminaries are churning out ministers who hold worldviews that are not biblical and are not historic Christianity, whether it is Progressive Christianity, woke theology, the universal Christ, or even that you can make your own definition of god and your own path to heaven. Parents must be aware of the doctrine being taught at these institutions.
It is no longer a secret to anyone that nearly 70% of our church-raised youth leave the church altogether after graduating high school. With that reality, we can’t continue to engage in the battle of ideas in the same way that we always have and expect that statistic to ever change.
The constant onslaught of anti-biblical ideas our children are surrounded by cannot be overcome with one hour of Sunday school that presents watered-down versions of feel-good moral stories from the Bible. That is not sufficient to fight against the giant machine of ideas from this culture.
Therefore, we must change our approach.
- Parents must be intentional about how they approach their children’s education – and not just their academics. As believers parents must remember that the most important job they have is raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. What is gained if a child grows up to be a nuclear physicist or neurosurgeon, but they no longer know the Lord?
God is not concerned with the batting averages, video game skills, number of TikTok dances, or the GPAs of our children. He is concerned about their hearts. The goal for every parent should be to make sure above all else that their children grow up to have a biblical worldview and a love for God and His Word.
- Parents must be aware of the worldviews that are influencing their children. Whether from their school, peer groups, social media accounts, or church pastors, parents must be cognizant of what types of ideas are being promoted, directly or subtly.
Parents need to be constantly engaged with what their children are being taught, both from the textbook and from the teacher. Only when parents know the ideas being taught and fostered, whether from school, friends, or social media, can they adequately address them with their children.
Admittedly, that can be very time consuming but nothing could be more important for parents. Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
When our children are surrounded by the counsel of the wicked, must stand in the way of sinners, and sit among those who scoff at the very God who died to save us, parents must continually bring them back to God’s Word so they will meditate on that instead of the flawed doctrine being peddled by the world.
- Parents must have discussions with their children about those different worldviews to which they are exposed. Every social media campaign, hashtag, school curriculum, or even major Disney movie plot is rooted in a worldview – and it is most likely not a biblical one. Parents can use those things to train their children to recognize the worldviews underneath what they are watching, reading, and hearing.
Parents can then contrast those ideas with God’s Word so they can see why and how those things go against a biblical worldview. After all, our main pursuit to know God is not just for head knowledge but so our minds can be transformed to a biblical way of thinking that will cause us to live in a way that glorifies God.
- Children need to be taught how to think critically in order to detect bad logic. One of the most detrimental things to children was when schools stopped teaching logic classes. No wonder our children are tossed about so easily by every “wind of doctrine.” They are rarely taught how to think critically about ideas to determine if they are even logically sound. This is painfully obvious in our culture today as so many chase after so many bad ideas.
- Parents must be intentional about studying the Bible with their children. Time is so often in short demand in our lives but this is one of those really important things that needs to be added to the daily schedule. We don’t stumble into Godly living and wander into biblical study. We must deliberately add that into our schedule or it will all to easily be pushed aside.
Parents need to model a daily habit of studying God’s Word for their children. Or even better, parents can have that time of studying God’s word alongside their children. This is part of putting on the full armor of God. We are going into the battle of ideas in the world around us, therefore, we must be fully armed and ready for that battle. Though this might mean getting up earlier or cutting out 30 minutes of TV time in the evenings, this is one of the most important habits parents can establish for their children. It will hopefully serve them well long after they leave the home.
- Parents must be intentional about studying apologetics with their children. Children must understand why the Christian worldview is truth. If parents have taught what other worldviews are around them, they must also explain why those are false ideas and why Christianity is truth.
The goal with all of this is for children to be able to wade through those differing worldviews at school, detect what is false, know what is truth, and be able to explain that to others with gentleness and love. And maybe with sufficient training from parents being intentional at home, their children can make an impact on others at school – because without that training, those at school will be making an impact on their children.