Rodney is a member of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan. 1999 scholarship essay.
Parental involvement in every aspect of the Christian education of children is crucially important. It is so crucially important because of the covenant. Christian education is covenant education. It is also important because Christian education, properly understood, is parental education. Christian schools are parent-controlled schools. Christian education in these schools is done on behalf of and in the place of parental instruction and education. It is a part of parental instruction.
Christian education is covenant education. This means that the covenant that God makes with believers and their seed is the basis for Christian education. The covenant is such a basis for Christian education in two ways. First, Christian education is the covenant responsibility of parents. That is, because of the covenant, parents are called by God to give Christian education to their children. When God spoke to his covenant people in the Old Testament he told them, “And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:6-7). It was the duty of the covenant people of God in the Old Testament to give godly and covenantal instruction to their children in the words and commandments of God. The same is true in the New Testament. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul instructs fathers to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Of course, this calling comes to covenant Christian parents today also. This calling stands as the basis of Christian education.
In the second place, the covenant is the basis of Christian education because it is through this Christian education that covenant children grow up into mature young Christians. That is, it is in the sphere of the Christian day school that the covenant child grows up and learns to live a Christian life. There he receives the influences and instruction that bring him to the point of Christian maturity. Of course, this happens in the home and under the preaching of the gospel in the church as well, but it is in the school that the Christian child comes into the most contact with God’s world, and it is there that he learns how to live in God’s world. At the Christian school, he also makes Christian friends. At the Christian school he learns to walk in love with his neighbors. At the Christian school he learns to submit to authority outside of the home. The many influences of the Christian school serve to bring him to Christian maturity. The aim of the covenantal instruction of parents is to bring their covenant children to such a level of Christian maturity that they can confess their faith before the church. This aim is accomplished by means of the Christian school. Thus, the aim of the instruction of the covenant is the basis of Christian education.
In accord with the fact that Christian education is covenant education, Christian education must be understood essentially as parental education, that is, because the covenant is the basis of Christian education, that education must be seen as being in the place of the parents. This is an old principle that has governed Christian education since the time of the Reformation. At that time Christian education was described by the Latin phrase, in loco parentis, that is, in the place of the parents. This principle does not mean that parents can be freed of the parental responsibilities that they have toward their children for 6 or 7 hours a day and that they can let the school fill their place. Instead, it means that the parents associate together and find a like-minded believer who can instruct their children in certain areas better than they themselves can do. The Christian school, then, is not a lessening of the parental responsibility to bring up the children of the covenant to the best of their ability, but instead, it is a fulfillment of that responsibility. Covenant parents send their children to Christian schools because they believe that this is the best way in which they can fulfill their covenant responsibilities toward God concerning the instruction of their children in the words and commands of God. In the Christian school, fathers bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
The application of this principle means that parents should be wholly involved in the covenant Christian education of their children. Parents of children should organize the Christian schools. Parents of children should serve on school boards that govern the running of the school. Parents of children should support the schools financially. Parents of the children should decide on the curriculum of the school. Christian schools ought to be parent-controlled schools.
This principle carries over into the daily life of the parents in relation to the Christian education of their children also. Because the Christian school serves in the place of the parents, the parents take a keen interest in the day-to-day instruction of their children in the schools. They get to know the teachers of their children. They learn their children’s lessons with them, so that they can know that the instruction is godly. They help their children with their homework, because they know that the education that their children receive is primarily their responsibility. They see the schoolteachers as their assistants in the instruction of their children, and thus, they follow up on the instruction of the schoolteachers by reinforcing that instruction in their children. They volunteer to assist in the instruction of their children in the school.
Above all else, the principle that Christian education is in the place of the parents means for the parents that they see to it that their children are taught in the things of God. They see to this in their own homes, but they also see to it that this is the emphasis and controlling factor of the education of their children. In the end of the day they don’t care so much that their children do well in school, but instead they care that their children are taught to love the Scriptures, and to learn the Scriptures. This is the chief concern of the parents. They want their children to be well versed in the words and commands of Jehovah, their covenant God.
Covenant parents are keenly involved in the Christian education of their children because this is what they have vowed to do. At the baptism of their covenant children, believing parents vow to see their children “instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help or cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of (their) power.” Believing parents believe that Christian schools are their covenant responsibility, and thus they devote the utmost of their power to the establishment and maintenance of these schools. The Christian education of their children becomes their life.