“Let children learn God’s righteous ways and on him stay their heart, that they may not forget his works, nor from his ways depart” (Psalter #215, verse 6). This is the goal of our Protestant Reformed education. Our children of the church have the blessing of attending a Protestant Reformed school where the truths of God are taught not only in Bible class, but in every subject in the classroom. Question and Answer 103 of the Heidelberg Catechism states that God requires in the fourth commandment that the “ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained.” This maintaining of the school does not mean simply making sure that the building is clean and well kept. It does not mean making sure that the classroom is left neat every day after class. The goal of Protestant Reformed education is to provide children with a well-rounded and God-glorifying education. Three things must be considered: what this education really is, how this education must be taught to children, and the blessing and fruit of this education.
A basic definition of education is the “act or process of acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.” Proverbs 1:7 says “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” By putting these two definitions together, one can see that the education begins with the fear of the Lord. In Rev. Steven Key’s article “The Biblical Basis and Goal of Christian Education” (Standard Bearer, Nov. ‘05), he states
When you boil all things down, when you take every subject of study known to man, and take it right back to its root, you will find that there is really only one knowledge, one reality behind all things and from which all things flow.” There is only one true education that truly matters and that is one that is infused with the Word of God. “This one knowledge, this ever important knowledge, is what every teacher absolutely must teach his or her students.
How can this knowledge be taught in every subject? In the Belgic Confession, Article II, we read that we know God by two means: “first, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book…secondly, he makes himself more clearly and fully known to us by his holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life to his glory and our salvation.” Obviously one of the greatest blessings of our schools is the teaching of Bible classes and the catechism classes. In these classes children learn the history of God’s people. They can see the early history of Israel and the Jews and then later see how the Gentiles are also included in the covenant. They learn several Bible passages by heart and discover the importance of several doctrines that they will hold dear to their hearts for the rest of their lives.
The teaching of spiritual aspects does not end with Bible class, for simply having Bible class does not constitute a Christian education. Science class is a study of God’s creation. The vastness of the universe makes man realize how small he really is. Psalm 8:3 and 4—”When I consider Thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” The Psalm goes on to show how every creature is under the direction of the Lord. The sand on the beach is a chance to talk of the covenant made with Abraham. The rainbow is a sign placed in the heavens as a promise to Noah. The study of the human body and other intricacies of the world makes one realize evolution is not even a possibility. God’s Word can easily be brought into every topic of science. Without God and faith in his word, the world is stumped by many scientific findings. I had a professor in a biology class who stated that the beginning of life is yet a mystery. The global warming fanatics search back billions of years to try to find a way to save our planet from overheating within the next several thousand years. What a way to live—not knowing where this earth came from and being so anxious about its future! As God’s people, we have faith in his Word, and we know without a doubt where this world came from and how life came about. We know everything in nature is under the sovereign control of God. This is what teachers must strive to teach and show students in the classroom God’s Word can also be taught in other areas. Mathematics deals with numbers, and there are several symbolic numbers in Scripture. When children are taught different colors, the symbolic meaning of colors in Scripture can be taught. Geography can be taught from a spiritual point of view in looking at the four corners of the earth and how God’s people are found in every culture of the earth. Students can learn the different religions of the world and defend their own faith against these other religions.
Incorporating God into every subject is not an easy task. No matter where one attends college, he or she will not be taught, how to do this. At the same time, if a Protestant Reformed teacher does not take this biblical perspective in their teaching, they will fail in their task. The Bible demands this of a teacher. The creeds and Church Order demand it. The parents and the school board demand it. The education children receive must be God-centered. This does not mean that the science, geography, history, and mathematics subject matter becomes less important in a Christian school. As quoted from Rev. Key’s article, “for our children to receive an education in isolation from the doctrinal truths that we profess to hold dear is detrimental to their spiritual health and welfare.” An education is extremely important for all children. This education must be well rounded in earthly matters, but even more importantly, it must be God-centered and God-glorifying. As Professor Engelsma says in his book Reformed Education, Scripture must be the foundation of every subject and worked into every aspect of the school in order for the children to truly receive a Christian education.
The task of teaching this education seems so daunting, and indeed, it is very hard work. But what exciting work it is, to teach others of the greatness of God, to teach them how to honor and serve him in every aspect of their life! A teacher cannot do this work of himself, but is used as an instrument in God’s hands to fulfill his perfect will. One knows that God will provide the strength necessary to carry out this great task. The fruit will be seen as these covenant children grow up and take their place in the church of God. They will be able to continue “in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:14-15).
This knowledge that covenant children will acquire in their younger years will surely bring forth fruit as they grow older. They will become solid church members and godly husbands and wives. Their well rounded instruction will serve them well as citizens of the country God has placed them in. They will be honest and just employers or employees in the work force. There is also a solemn warning here for us as the church of God. We must continue to maintain these Christian schools God has given to us. If we do not he will not continue to bless us in our generations and will also take his blessing from our schools as well. May we continue to strive to teach our children the ways of the Lord within these Christian schools—not for our own benefit, but for the glory and honor of God. He has promised to take care of his people, and we can be certain that we will persevere until the final day when he comes again to take us to be forever with him.
“Thou hast upheld me in Thy grace
From childhood’s early days;
To Thee from Whom I life received
Will I give constant praise—
Will I give constant praise!”
Psalter #190 verse 4