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Why is a Christian High School Education so Valuable?

Why is a Christian High School Education so Valuable?

by Bob Fry, Director of Development

One of the things we all face as parents is the question of our children’s education.  My wife, Susan, and I at different times had our three kids in a year-round public elementary school, a farm school, a Christian K-8 school, a public high school and a Catholic high school.  And this was in addition to pre-school, Sunday school and church youth groups.  Trying to get it “just right” was exhausting and in hindsight, we didn’t need to be so anxious.  But the reality is that any choice other than the local, automatic, free public school takes time, effort and usually, money.  So why do it?

The short answer is that a Christian education grounded in God-given human dignity and a belief in truth, is a powerful tool for helping students navigate and thrive in a world that does not know either inherent dignity or truth.  For me that is reason enough.  But at the risk of writing too long an article, there are at least five specific reasons.

1. Christians are Called to Think

The call to think is baked into the very fabric of our faith and usually as a response to our salvation through Christ.  Since, then, you have been raised with Christ . . . set your minds on things above. Col 3:1-2.  Or again, Therefore . . . in view of God's mercy . . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:1-2.  Ours is a thinking faith.  God doesn’t want us to love Him in an indiscriminate, unthinking way.  Alexander Maclaren was a wonderful British Baptist preacher of the late 19th century whose commentaries are still used today.  He summarized the issue this way:  If a man wants to love Jesus Christ, he must think about Him.1 

2. Christian Thinking helps us Extend God’s Love as He intends

The most well known verse in the Bible (John 3:16) is that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son.  The word for “world” in the Greek is Cosmos and it means the whole thing, the entire universe and, by extension, all of the people in it.  And as we experience every day, our world is a very complicated place.  If we are to love it and care for it and care for the people living in it, we have to be thoughtful and knowledgeable of God and His affection for His creation. 

3. Knowledge without Character is Worse than Worthless

In his famous Finest Hour speech, Winston Churchill declared that if England lost the war, all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.2  Nazi scientists guided by “the lights of a perverted science” were knowledgeable, but they were putting that knowledge to evil purposes.  It is as Christians that we uniquely recognize that all the little “truths” of the world flow out of the Capital “T” truth of Jesus Christ and ought to be subject to his guidance and control.

As a result, passages such at Romans 12 and Colossians 3 quoted above, both point to the formation of character and the ability to joyfully worship as the reason for thinking and, ultimately, for education.  We seek the "renewing of our minds" in Romans in order to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable” to our Lord.  We set our minds on things above in Colossians 3 so that “the peace of Christ [will] rule in our hearts” as we “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,” ultimately so that whatever we do, in word or deed we do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

It is the Christian part of a Christian High School education that harnesses raw knowledge and education into something that builds character and is useful for the Lord.  If the only goal is to “get into a good college” then there are still a number of secular schools that can help you achieve that result.  I went to a secular prep school in which half the 50 students in my graduating class had some level of recognition from National Merit.  We were an extremely well-educated group.  But it was my Pastor leading me to memorize passages such as Romans 12:1-2 and Philippians 4:4-8 who gave me a fighting chance at putting that knowledge to good use.

4. High School is the Pivot Point

The “high school” part of a Christian education is also critical.  Our students are no longer children, but they are still within our ability to teach and to guide.  They need both knowledge and the ability to think critically if they are to successfully navigate all the challenges to come.  We now live, for example, in an age of runaway subjectivity in which “feelings” determine whether or not something is true, not objective standards.  If we help our students learn that some things are in fact true and teach them to analyze ideas and not just blindly accept them because everyone else does, we equip them to find their way through the confusion. 

And it would be hard to overstate the importance of developing Christian character at our students’ ages.  The very first thing that students experience when going away to college (or anywhere else for that matter) is that Mom and Dad aren’t there watching. Having the depth of character to manage temptations of all sorts is amazingly important.  John Wooden, the most successful college basketball coach of all time liked to say, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”  A Christian high school education can’t guarantee such character, but it can, and often does, help.

5.Christian Education Flows out of and Leads to Joy

Once of the most remarkable and unusual passages in the New Testament is Paul’s exhortation to get a Christian education!  After urging the believers in Philippi to “rejoice always” (from a word in the Greek tied intimately to both joy and grace), he gives this instruction:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Philippians 4:9 (1984 NIV)

The remarkable aspect of this verse is that Paul is consciously embracing all the normal scholarly ambitions of his then Greek and Roman world.  Any educated person of his day would have recognized all six concepts as virtues that were worth knowing and contemplating.  It is in part because of this passage that our students listen to Beethoven, read Shakespeare, perform Broadway plays, sing pop songs and study all that the best of our historic civilization has to offer.  Thinking on these things leads to a fuller, more joyful life.  And thinking on these things also points us back to God.  The word here for “think”, logizesthe in the Greek, is derived from logos, the word the Apostle John uses to describe Jesus!

A Final Thought

I said there were at least five reasons for a Christian education but I’m a lawyer by background and training so I’m going to let myself add one more!  A really solid Christian education is an important source of appropriate humility.  One of the conceits of our day is that we are the smartest and best educated people who ever lived.  We also tend to think that we are dealing with every issue for the first time.  

It will help our students understand that many, many brilliant people have come before us if they know that the Pilgrims tried and rejected communism in 1623.3  Or that inflation was such a problem in colonial America that Abigail Adams, in one of her wonderful letters to husband John, admonishes him to not send home any more paper dollars as opposed to gold or silver.4  Or even, just for fun, that people taking dogs witht them everywhere isn’t a “new” thing.  Nearly 2,000 years ago Plutarch, the famous Roman historian wrote:

[Julius] Caesar once, seeing some wealthy strangers at Rome, carrying up and down with them in their arms . . . young puppy dogs and monkeys, embracing and making much of them, took occasion not unnaturally to ask, “aren’t the women in your country used to bearing children?5

I chuckle every time I see a dog in Starbucks!  

Susan and I now have five grandchildren and by virtue of geography I doubt if any of them will be able to attend Berean Christian High School.  But I can’t think of anything more important for their health and life and well-being than such a Christian education.  It is worth the effort.

Cordially in Christ.

Bob Fry
Director of Development


Notes:

Expositions of Holy Scripture, Alexander Maclaren, 1826-1910

2 “This was their finest hour.” Speech by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the House of Commons, June 18, 1940 

3 Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford, 1620 – 1647, Edited by Samuel Elliot Morison

4 My Dearest Friend, Letters of Abigail and John Adams, Harvard University Press, 2007

5 Plutarch’s Lives, The Dryden Translation, edited by Arthur Hugh Clough


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