We need Christian schools.
I believe many Christians would agree with that assertion. And some would even mention that we already have a number of them in Nigeria. They may be expensive, they may be few, but we have some. However, I don’t mean a school run by Christian individuals or churches, or a school where it is normal to have prayer meetings and bible studies, or a school where Christian knowledge is part of the curriculum. What I mean by Christian school is a school where the whole philosophy and practice of education is shaped by a Christian worldview.
A Christian school, at least its faculty, will understand that the world, both its physical and non-material aspects, was created by God. And because that world was pronounced good by its Creator (Gen. 1:31), every sphere of life is rendered worthy of our study and participation. Humanity is created in God’s own image to creatively further the development of this universe to God’s glory. At the same time, however, we understand that because of humanity’s sin, this originally good universe is now fallen and life is distorted. Our universe is now ravaged by conflict between national armies and between domestic couples, beset by hatred and wickedness, and soiled by economic corruption and financial fraud. In view of this misery, God reveals and works out a plan of redemption to restore things to how they ought to be. Through his word and his Spirit, he renews our hearts, gives us true knowledge, and empowers us to trust and obey Him. Such an outlook would guide all that the school teaches and does.
The imperative for such a Christian education is this: the Christian worldview is the truth about reality. Therefore, no fact or idea can be properly taught unless it is taught from God’s, that is, a Christian, perspective.
To quote the theologian Cornelius Van Til, “Christians believe that originally man lived in the light of the revelation of God and that in Christ as the fact-revelation and in Scripture as the Word-revelation, man is in principle restored to that true light of God.”*
We do not understand ourselves correctly unless in relation to God. Neither can we understand our universe unless we study it in light of God’s revelation.
For example, Physics will be seen as an investigation into the workings of the physical universe which God has made. It will proceed not on the assumption that all reality is material, nor on the presupposition that the measurable and observable world is all there is, but that the physical aspects of reality is just one dimension of a complex system created by a wise God.
Economics will not be approached as the study of rational people making value-neutral decisions. Rather, it will be understood as the study of humanity making moral choices in the use of God-given resources.
Even Mathematics will also be seen as a study of the rational aspect of the physical universe – a reflection of God’s own rational nature.
All learning will take God’s revelation seriously. It will seek to understand life and the universe within the framework of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Such a school will not treat human affairs and the physical universe in the autonomous way it is approached in our schools here in Nigeria. It will rightly recognize that humanity in its being, thought, and actions belong entirely to God. As such, it is only correctly understood when considered from God’s perspective.
A Christian philosophy of education will also recognize that children are wards of their parents and not of the government. Therefore, schools will be seen to be performing a parental function; they are helping to carry out the duty of parents.
Education is formation for life. It involves more than learning facts and their relations; it is the shaping of a life for life in society under the lordship of God. We perform it rightly only by bringing the person under God’s revelation and authority. And the Christian worldview is the elaboration of what his revelation implies for all spheres of life. The child is made by God and lives to God; her education should not suppress but nurture this truth in her.
*Foundations of Christian Education: Addresses to Christian Teachers, edited by Dennis E. Johnson