Position on Christian Education
1. Education is a parental, not an ecclesiastical or civil responsibility (Deuteronomy 6:6-25; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4).
This has several implications:
- While the Christian school can be involved in helping and assisting parents in educating their children, the ultimate responsibility lies with the parents. This means that parents cannot simply pass on the full responsibility of teaching their children to a Christian day school. They must remain active in the teaching of the children God has given to them.
- While the church can be involved in helping and assisting parents in providing education for their children, they do not have the ultimate authority or responsibility to provide such training. Of course, they have a responsibility to give instruction and leadership in the area of education as in any other aspect of the Christian life.
- The government’s responsibility given to them by God is to ensure that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life that the word of God would not be hindered (1 Timothy 2:2). This does mean that the government must provide an environment of stability in which parents can effectively educate their children. Nowhere in the Word of God is the responsibility or authority for training children given to the state (Romans 13:1-7).
- In summary, since God has given the primary responsibility to parents for the training of their children, they should not abrogate the authority that God has given to them by leaving the training of their children to the state, church, or to a Christian day school.
2. Parents are required by God to provide their children with a Christian education (Deuteronomy 6:6-25; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4).
- This is something they promise to do when they present their children for baptism. In the form for infant baptism parents are asked whether they “promise and intend to see these children, when come to the years of discretion…instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help or cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of [their] power?” after which they reply in the affirmative.
- If the provision of Christian education is a moral obligation, as has been stated, then sending covenant children to a public school is not an option unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances. Besides the fact that the state does not have biblical authority to educate our children, its present philosophy of education is antithetical to the Scripture, the message of the gospel, to the church, and to wholesome Christian living.
3. The Bible nowhere stipulates by what method parents are to educate their children, i.e. whether children should be placed in a Christian day school or whether they can be home schooled; both methods are equally valid. There are various strengths and weaknesses of each method. Parents need to acknowledge this and support, encourage, and cooperate with each other regardless of which education option they choose for their children.
4. As members of the body of Christ we have a covenantal responsibility for all the children of the congregation. That means we all share in the responsibility for supporting Christian education morally, financially, and prayerfully. Regardless of whether one home schools, sends their children to a Christian day school, or does not have children, they still have a responsibility to all the children of the congregation
5. Should parents decide to place their children in a Christian day school, they should be guided by the following principles:
- The school’s teaching and principles should be consistent with the Word of God as summarized in the Three Forms of Unity. There should be harmony between the home, the church, and the school.
- Enrolling their children in a Christian day school in no way absolves parents of their responsibility to educate and train their children. This remains the responsibility of the parents.
- Parents should remain actively involved in the education of their children. They should be aware of what they are studying and the progress they are making. This means they should be in regular contact with their children’s teachers and be active, contributing members of the school society.
6. Should parents decide to home school their children, they should be guided by the following principles:
- Parents who home school their children should ensure that the teaching they receive is consistent with the Word of God as summarized in the Three Forms of Unity. This will impact the types of textbooks and curriculum that are used. Further, parents must ensure that they are sufficiently able to discern in the use of non reformed curriculum. If not, they are encouraged to seek help in evaluating curriculum.
- Although home schooling is a legitimate option for parents, not every parent is sufficiently qualified to teach their own children. This requires a certain level of academic qualification, organizational abilities, dedication, motivation, and self discipline, as well as the ability to teach. Parents who lack these qualities are doing a disservice to their children by teaching them at home.
7. Article 54 of the Free Reformed church order requires consistories to “see to it that the parents, in harmony with the promises made at the baptism of their children, have them taught at schools where the instruction is in accordance with the Word of God and the Three Forms of Unity.” This implies several things:
- Where there are no such schools, the consistory has the responsibility to see to it that such schools are established. This does not mean the consistory is responsible for establishing such schools, much less exercise oversight over them; that is the responsibility of the parents. It only means that it is responsible for seeing to it that such schools are established.
- Where there are such schools, the consistory should be diligent in encouraging parents, by instruction, preaching and pastoral care to send their children to these schools in accordance with the vows they have made at their children’s baptism (recognizing, of course, that home schooling is also a legitimate option). They should also encourage the congregation to become fully involved in the functioning of such Christian schools.
- If cost is a factor, these parents are expected to apply to the deacons for assistance. Because Christian education is a moral obligation of parents, where there is difficulty in providing such education, the church should be ready to assist these parents in the same way they would provide for food, clothing or shelter. Further, the congregation is to give lovingly and compassionately to the deaconate to meet the needs of these members of the congregation.
Youth and Education Committee of the Free Reformed Churches in North America