Parents, and specifically fathers, are responsible for the godly education of their children. The Apostle Paul commanded fathers to “bring them [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). While this responsibility may be delegated, fathers are never absolved of it. This responsibility has existed through countless generations of godly parents (Deuteronomy 6:1-7) and will continue until the last generation when our Lord returns again. May we be found faithful in our generation.
Classical education has existed for far more than a millennium, and has been recently recovered broadly here in the United States only within the past few decades as a result of many committed Christians applying it to the Christ-centered education of their children. The growth that has transpired in so few years is truly amazing. What has come to pass is not just another educational fad skipping down the pedagogical corridors of modern history—only to be brushed aside by the next fad to come dancing along. While I am extremely thankful for the growing restoration of the classical method in education, I have a concern.
Whereas, by God’s grace, we have witnessed the recovery the lost tools of learning found in classical education, let us not forget that in classical Christian education, that which is classical is the servant to that which is Christian. They are not both evenly mixed in some sort of egalitarian educational stew—three parts Christian, three parts classical. Jesus Christ is LORD of all, hence the classical must be, and most assuredly is, subject to Christ’s universally extensive lordship.
You may be agreeing with me, but wondering, “What’s the point?” My point is this. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone that believes. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the message that is preached by which Christ is proclaimed Savior. In I Corinthians 15: 3-4, Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” This is the gospel, plain and simple. And it ends with a period, not a question mark. What I mean by this is that the gospel is a statement of fact, a statement of truth. It is not an invitation, not an option for men to consider. It is a statement of what God alone has done. It is a statement of God’s mercy to a sinful, fallen, incapable, spiritually dead mankind. Those who respond in faith to this message are justified. But that faith is not from their sinful, fallen, incapable, spiritually dead nature. No! It is the gift of God by His grace alone. My confident hope is that each of us at some time prior has heard this gospel preached and has responded to it with saving faith. By saving faith, I do not mean the faith that we generate ourselves every day when we start our car or turn on the lights or eat our breakfast in a restaurant. The former is God-given and saves; the latter is man-generated and condemns.
But it is at just this point that my concern begins. If we have imported any human agency, any man-generated effort—no matter how slight—into our understanding of the gospel, we have leavened the very heart of our Christianity with the seeds of humanism. Human agency is as foreign to the gospel as Kermit the Frog is with a set of dentures. They are both totally incongruent.
It is possible that someone may protest that I go too far. After all, isn’t it a matter of personal preference how one believes on this issue? No! The Scriptures are the standard for what is true, not man. We are not allowed to pick and choose what we want to believe. God has decreed the gospel and we must believe it as He has decreed it.
Since parents, and predominantly fathers, are responsible for the godly instruction of their children, it is their understanding of the gospel that is of foremost importance to the longevity of Christian education, in general, and classical Christian education in specific. If we allow human agency, no matter how slight, a place in our understanding of the gospel, then we have suppressed the truth of the gospel. We have become guilty of supplanting God’s agency alone in salvation. In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he severely warned against the suppression of the truth since those who do so meet with the wrath of God in time and on earth, in other words, in history. The future of our godly progeny is in the balance.
I can imagine how easy it would be for some to think that I’m being an alarmist, that I’m overstating the matter. But look at the Scriptures. Paul admonished us not to be deceived, “…God is not mocked, for whatever (I emphasize, whatever) a man sows, that he will also reap.” If we have sown human agency in our understanding of the gospel, should we not expect that it will affect the rest of our Christianity as well, just as a little leaven leavens the whole lump? And if our Christianity is leavened, how is it that that which is classical will escape since we have already determined that the classical is the servant to Christianity?
The latter part of the first chapter of Romans 1 describes the sure but steady descent into reprobate thinking that follows when human agency has been superimposed over the truth of the gospel. Isn’t that just where we find ourselves in this country today? Isn’t that why Christian parents want a Christian education for their children, so as not to repeat the same cycle of sinful, humanistic descent again? If we don’t get it right, possibly our grandchildren, but most certainly our great grandchildren, apart from the grace of God, will be shoveling dirt on the coffin of classical Christian education, and it will be at least another century, if not more, after that before someone again recovers the lost tools of learning and starts to rebuild the ruins that used to be the educational edifice that we are now eagerly seeking to reestablish.
May we each seriously consider our calling as parents within the body of Christ and thank God for it. But at the same time, let’s be humble and noble enough to reevaluate our understanding of the gospel message in light of Scripture. The gospel is God’s power of salvation. Let us add nothing to it in any degree, including human agency, nor fail to affirm that the gospel is the only sure foundation to the godly education of our children. Classical education, without the undergirding foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is suppression of the truth.