Volume 7, Issue 2: Repairing the Ruins
Christians differ on all
kinds of things, but the fact that this is so does not justify the practice.
Paul tells us plainly that part of our duty in Christian living is to be of the
same mind with other Christians (Rom. 12:16; 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 3:16; 4:2).
The force of this admonition has been blunted far too long with the idea that
disobedience can be justified simply through disagreeing with one another
pleasantly. This device does keep us from compounding our sin of disunity
of mind with the sin of malice, but this is not the same as leaving our sin of
disunity of mind.
In the meantime, such disagreements remain a fact of life, and they present
a very real practical problem for any Christian school that seeks to serve the
larger Christian community. The difficulty is this: a Christian school will often
draw students from many denominational backgrounds. These churches differ on
whether Jesus drank wine or grape juice, whether pouring constitutes a valid
baptism, whether the Second Coming is late next week, and so on.
If the issues are addressed in Scripture, a church does not have the option
of sidestepping them. A central part of the ministry of the church of Christ
is the exposition of the Word of Godall of it. The whole counsel of God, Genesis
to Revelation, is the agenda of the church's teaching ministry. This means a well-governed
church cannot lawfully be "neutral" on a number of subjects which divide Christians.
For example, it is impossible to teach through Matthew properly without addressing
the subject of eschatologyand eschatology divides Christians.
But the Christian school is not the church. In the economy of God, the school
answers to the government of the family, i.e. the parents. Further, it is
possible for a good math class to stay out of eschatology. Consequently, certain
subjects which divide Christian churches need not divide Christians working together
in a school. This does not mean that a Christian school can be neutral; neutrality
is impossible . Rather, it means a Christian school can be courteous and defer
to the parents and pastors on certain subjects (even if they are in error). Because
of the nature of schools, this can be done without compromising the mission of
But the problem has not yet gone away. Ecclesiastical "secondary" issues are
not the only matters upon which Christians differ. Complicating the whole subject
further, any Christian school which seeks to teach in the light of worldview
Christianity must take a stand on other "secondary" issues. And Christians
disagree on academic fracas fodder just as much as they do on the earlier issues.
These are issues which the church may not need to address in her exposition
of Scripture, but which, for example, a history class must address. In the War
for Independence, did the Tories have the right view of Romans 13 and submission
to established authorities? Was the colonial cause a just one, scripturally speaking?
Was Robert E. Lee in sin because he owned slaves? Was Roger Williams the father
of religious liberty in our nation, or a loose cannon on deck? In a school which
seeks to encourage the students to think in the light of a biblical worldview,
such questions cannot be sidestepped. They must be met head-on. The subjects
of history, English literature, logic, etc . will either be understood in a
biblical light, or they will be understood in a humanistic lightright through
the entire curriculum.
If a Christian school does not have a developed Christian worldview, all the
school's "default drive" assumptions will come from its surrounding culture, and
not from the Bible. When this happens, the Christian school will start celebrating
Martin Luther King Day. Doesn't everyone? And we just gotta do some more work
in the area of AIDS awareness.
This matter of worldview thinking connects directly to another question I am
frequently asked with regard to establishing a classical and Christian school.
"Can a school be classical and evangelical without being Reformed?" Our world is
a complicated and interesting place, and the answer is yes, but . A Christian
school does not need to be explicitly and formally Reformed ( e.g. all staff
members signing the Westminster Confession) in order to be a classical and evangelical
school. However, in order to remain faithful to an education that faithfully
provides the biblical worldview, the school must be reformationalit must be in
the stream of historic Protestant orthodoxy. This is not the same thing as
being in the modern pop-evangelical mainstream.
When a school insists upon biblical worldview thinking and teaching, then a
necessary result of this emphasis will be, over time, a large number of staff
members, families, students, board members, etc . who happen to be Reformed.
Dispute may legitimately exist over whether this is a logical necessity. Nevertheless,
it remains a historical fact that the overwhelming majority of evangelical worldview
analyses in cultural, social, economic, historical, and literary subjects has
been done by believers who were Reformed. Consequently, a school which seeks
to take advantage of this resource within the body must welcome and encourage
Such encouragement does not mean that the school will begin undermining the
authority of, say, Wesleyan parents, as they seek to teach their children. One
of the key tenets of the Reformed worldview is the understanding that the sovereign
God has required His people to respect the boundaries of family government.