As education goes, so goes society. Yet, there is no practice more misunderstood in our day. As society continues its anti-Christian trajectory, we will find the task of Christian education becoming a more ardent task. It shall therefore be all the more noble. Below I will lay out the first principles necessary for the task of education.
The Passing On of an United Identity
The importance of identity is never understated. Union with Christ is central to Paul’s theology, as scholars are starting to realize. Children are not to pick and choose their identity, despite the battle cry of modern pedagogical indoctrination.
Our identity starts with the grand narrative of creation. Are we cosmic dust created by the god of Chance? Or are we the image of God created by the Eternal Godhead? Are we fallen creatures capable of saving ourselves, or not? What and who we are is the first and most important item to pass on in education, and is precisely what all educations have done. No education has ever been neutral in telling the story of the universe and all that in it is. Even mathematics tells a story, a story of an ordered and complex universe governed by laws. Laws govern even the triangle, as Pythagoras showed millennia ago.
Initiation into Our Culture and Heritage
It is unfashionable today to say that we should “pass on a culture.” Despotic crowds declare whatever they cannot stand to be the greatest acts of despotism. Yet, identity is irrevocably bound up in culture and heritage. No one will pass on an identity successfully without passing on, to some degree, a consistent culture and heritage. Those who object, are really just objecting to a culture they don’t like. Christians know this, it’s the same tactic use by sectarians and heretics.
True, Christians have adopted various forms of culture that they later renounce. And yet, there is always a continuity/discontinuity paradigm requisite to rightly understand these actions. For example, Christians have always held a high view of life, much higher then the surrounding pagan cultures. This is a unique aspect of Christian culture and heritage that goes beyond all nations and all ages. I am not writing about the moral law, but of cultural practices which reinforces these values.
Birthdays, baby-showers, and funerals, all, albeit differently, remind us of the importance of life, especially human life. James Smith has pointed out that any educational program that only transmits these truths didactically, and neglects the cultural and habit-forming side of education, is failing to educate the way God intended it to be done. Man is more than a thinking computer, but a also a feelin