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Volume 7, Issue 3: Repairing the Ruins

Marginal Christian Academy

Douglas Wilson

Marginal Christian Academy does not truly recognize the extent of our cultural crisis. While Marginal was founded in recognition of the fact that our secular culture and schools are falling apart, there is apparently little recognition that our evangelical culture has a case of the same diseasethe modern church does not have an acknowledged epistemological center either. The Christian church at large is therefore in dire need of reformation according to the Scripturesand until that happens, most Christian schools, Marginal included, will continue to reflect the superficial nature of modern evangelical religion. Christian schools are a cultural manifestation of a particular Christian subculture . If that subculture is in an epistemic crisis of faith, the schools will reflect it. This is certainly the case at Marginal, where they do not see or understand the crisis in the church at large.

Marginal Christian Academy does not acknowledge the foundational educational role of parents. A successful Christian school is always an adjunct servant for successful Christian parents; it is not a replacement for them. But whenever a student succeeds at Marginal, the clear tendency is to claim that the school was the central shaping force in the student's life. In those situations where this is the case, it should be considered more an occasion for grief than anything else. And so Marginal needs to act more like a servant school, and less like an orphanagethe Christian school is not a para-family organization, but rather a service for godly parents.
Marginal Christian Academy does not recognize the profound difference between a Christian school and a Christian church. The Christian school does not exist in order to conduct worship services, act as a mission agency, provide a mentoring and discipleship program for zealous young students, etc . The Christian school is not a church or parachurch organization.
Marginal Christian Academy does not understand the fundamental antithesis between Christian culture and unbelieving culture. Consequently, most classes are taught in just the way they are taught in the government schools. The Christian element is "added" by means of a Bible class or chapel, as though God's truth were some kind of a condiment to spice up the autonomous food served up at the government schools. Thus, in most classes, the antithesis between light and dark is muddled. Does two and two make four whether God exists or not? When the average Christian cannot tell the answer, it is tragic; when the average teacher at a Christian school cannot tell you, it is inexcusable.
Marginal Christian Academy does not adequately distinguish between patriotism and faithfulness to Christ. Church history is taught as though Pentecost happened in 1776, and as though Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington were numbered among the apostleswith Paine perhaps playing the role of Judas. But a Christian view of history and a Christianized version of history are two entirely different things.
Marginal Christian Academy has allowed itself, in the minds of some, to become "You're Our Last Chance Christian School." Thus Marginal receives hostile students who do not want to be there, and whose parents do not understand the purpose and function of parental authority in Christian education. Unfortunately, Marginal does not understand this purpose or function either. This is how the school has drifted into becoming the local rescue mission on the skid row of education choices. Because the school has forgotten its primary responsibility to act as servant to biblical parents, Marginal finds itself adriftthe teachers are frustrated, the parents are clueless, and the students are surly. Without a core group of thoughtful and obedient parents, Marginal is condemned to a usurpation which cannot work.
Marginal Christian Academy sees itself as a little sister of the government schools not really grown up yet. So, hat in hand, Marginal has asked some government-approved agency to come in and accredit its program. But if the government's seal of approval were all that valuable, there would not be a market for private Christian schools in the first place. Nevertheless, because there is no biblical vision at Marginal, success is consequently measured by money, enrollment, buildings, basketball programs, and other things not essential for true education. Marginal is well on the way to finding out that accredited schools are, in principle, controlled schools.
No way can be found which will enable Christian schools to teach children to think and live as Christians when those running the school do not think and live as Christians. This is the central flaw in the assumptions governing Marginalsomehow it is thought that if enough Christians gather together and start a school, they should be able to muddle their way through. But they cannot; the Lord Jesus is not the headmaster.

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