Gospel education

Hobart High School Est 1913Hobart High School, est 1913 (cited here). 

Education is about who is sovereign; God or man. It cannot occur within an ethical vacuum (1 Cor. 10:31). Truth is not an abstraction; it is a person, the God-man Jesus. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge start with and are found in Him (Prov. 1:7, Col. 3:2). He is the source of all truth and knowledge. Nothing can be known without presupposing the God of Scripture. An education that denies the Lordship of Jesus over any area of faith and life is simply idolatrous (Deut. 6:4-15, Prov. 1:7, Matt. 28:18-20) and scandalous. This should strike godly fear into all Christian fathers.

Unfortunately we have blindly believed the false doctrine of educational neutrality for some time. Education is not simply the transfer of “brute, raw facts” from one generation to the next. It is relational (discipleship) and deeply covenantal (parental/ministerial responsibility before God). There are no brute facts; all are interpreted through a worldview.

Knowledge and wisdom start with the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7). Anyone who denies God does not have a philosophical (worldview) basis for truth or knowledge. You don’t reason to God; rather you reason from God. Our view of God shapes what we think of man, the world and the Creator. Education is a major spoke in the discipleship wheel. It is about transferring and acquiring knowledge and wisdom through storytelling and lives lived. Stories we are saturated in inform and transform our minds, our thinking (Ro. 12:2). All stories are either faithful to the King or parade an imposter sovereign. A worldview is the framework on which all truth-claim stories hang. Plots, characters, facts and motives are all defined explicitly or implicitly by the story teller’s worldview. More than this, a worldview links everything about man, the world and God together into a complete thinking and living package. It is the series of basic presuppositions that all people subconsciously use to interpret the heavens and the earth. Whoever controls education shapes the hearts and minds of generations to come.

Educators shape a nation’s cultus (customs, culture) through intergenerational stories of man, the world and God. These stories are not simply delivered in theoretical classroom studies. A nation’s cultus works out of (and then circularly back into) its poetry, legends, heroes and social structures. A child’s 13 year (K-12) training ground includes formal stories in classrooms/homes, the passed on worldview of instructors, society of friends, entertainments, heroes, traditions and the whole range of life scenarios. Stories are powerful.

The Paideia of God

Stories shape children. They develop a child’s worldview without the child even realizing it. As Christian parents we need to stop and consider the implications this in light of Ephesians 6:4; “fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Our English translations don’t do the word “paideia” justice. It is translated “fear” or “training.” This looses the impetus of the word. Let’s consider what Paul is instructing us.

Children are provoked to wrath by fathers failing to raise their children in the paideia of God. Note the wrath has a specific cause. Paul is not talking about temper tantrums that lead to (or from) godly discipline. This wrath is the act of children rebelling from the faith. It is caused by fathers failing to educate/disciple their children faithfully. Sunday schools, youth groups, peer pressure and other secondary things are not the primary cause of children walking away from the faith of their parents. Under the sovereignty of God, it is a father’s actions that drive his children to wrath.

Paul used a common Greek word (paideia) to purvey a powerful worldview concept. Paideia was the word used to encapsulate the idea of raising Greek children as ideal members of the polis. Every aspect of parenting and education had the goal of shaping every child into a perfect citizen of the great democracy. It was an all encompassing concept; including formal educational subjects, child rearing philosophy, structured socialisation of children with particular members of the polis, physical training, moral training, poetry learning and music instruction. Paedeia is essentially worldview training.

Paul gives Christian parents no wriggle room. Fathers, if you do not ensure that your children are trained in a worldview that starts with the fear of God you are driving them to wrath. Every aspect of your children’s education must acknowledge the sovereignty of God. The stories that inform and shape your children, the story tellers, the materials used and those who your children rub shoulders with ought to shape them faithfully in the one true story of God and His world. The implications of Ephesians 6:4 are staggering. It is simply not ok to saturate your children in an ungodly paideia for 8 hours a day (i.e. non-Christian state schools). If you are doing this, please reconsider what a worldview is and its impact on your children. Pray and repent to God and your family. Then take the necessary actions.

The paedeia of God is all encompassing. Storytelling knows no neutrality. Paul is saying that everything we saturate our children in must glorify God. Everything that influences our children in the informative years must shape them to fear God. We are discipling our children in the faith to be obedient worshippers of the Triune God. We must broaden our view of education. It is worldview training or discipleship. Fathers are to ensure that every square inch of their children’s rearing is within the framework of the fear of God. Our parenting philosophy, the formal education curriculum, our children’s friends, physical training, moral instruction, cultural activities and everything in between must be done in the context of recognizing the kingship of Christ. No area of our child rearing should tempt our children to think or believe that idolatry is right or normal. Nothing should be a stumbling block to those whom God has entrusted to us; not the curriculum, long term friendships, sport, or anything else (Matt 18:6). Education is a major part of discipleship and it is holistic, all of life. It is worldview training. And its entirety must be done in faithful obedience to the Word/Law of God (Eph. 6:1-3, Deut. 6:4-15, Ps. 1).

The stories saturate our children’s lives must put man, creation and God in their proper place and order.

Walk with me

Discipleship is the very heart of education. It is the very engine room of storytelling. Whoever is spending the most time with our children, telling them stories, is discipling them. Good character is the result of holistic training/discipleship (Eph. 6:4, Prov. 22:6). It springs from explicit and purposeful day-by-day (walking and talking with) discipleship (Deut. 6:6-7). Normality springs out of what we saturate our children in for the majority of their time (Ps. 1, Prov. 4:14-15, 13:20, 1 Cor. 15:33). A child saturated in an idolatrous story about God, man and the world is being discipled to accept and believe a lie. Any aspect of education that does not bow the knee to King Jesus indoctrinates children to accept the falsehood that the Messiah is not the reigning King who holds all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. A student will not rise above his teacher (Lk 6:40). Yes, God is sovereign. Children are saved out of terrible circumstances. And God requires Christian parents to give their children a education that glorifies Christ in all things, period.

Education by design

Our Tasmanian state school curriculum disciples children in particular worldview principles by design. It is inescapable, our state schools take children from 5 to 18 years of age and enculturates them in truth-claim stories. These stories sit upon worldview bedrocks which inform students how to think, behave and live. The forefathers of our modern state based, funded and directed schooling system knew this well and so do their contemporaries.

Horace Mann (1796–1859), John Dewey (1859–1952) and Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) can be considered the philosophical founders of the American public education school system. Our state based, age segregated schooling system is modeled after that system. Each of those men desired to create a system wherein children are saturated in secular humanist stories. These founding fathers believed education to be ethics/morals training, a system to shape the behaviors of future citizens.

Tasmanian state schooling

“Australian schooling provides a foundation for students’ intellectual, physical, social, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development.”[i]

Australian schools provide the seedbed for worldview training through instructing in foundations for thinking, living and behaving.

“The Tasmanian Curriculum encourages students to become lifelong learners. The values, purposes and goals of the Tasmanian Curriculum are common to all areas. Lifelong learners are inquiring and reflective thinkers, effective communicators, self-directed and ethical people, responsible citizens and world contributors.”[ii]

“Education equips young people with the knowledge, understanding, skills and values to take advantage of opportunity and to face the challenges of this [global] era with confidence. As well as knowledge and skills, a school’s legacy to young people should include national values of democracy, equity and justice, and participation in Australia’s civic life.”[iii]

Tasmanian schools provide the philosophical framework for students to be trained into becoming members of the great democracy. The system’s design is to ensure students think within the desired ethical/moral framework to successfully and seamlessly integrate into society. Our schools are shaping children to be the most excellent of secular humanists. King Jesus requires His people to disciple and transform societies/nations through immersing them in the Commands of God (Matt. 28:18-20). Sending Christian children to Tasmanian state schools flips the Great Commission on its head.

Tasmanian schools provide comprehensive worldview training. Students are being instructed into a particular framework for thinking, living and behaving. All Tasmanian teachers work within the framework or worldview of the Tasmanian (and National) curriculum. This curriculum instructs students in what to believe at all levels of life. It is comprehensive worldview training. Children in our state schools are learning the stories of secular humanism very well. State schools are returning our children to us as young adults suited in the armor of this world. Tasmanian state schools are producing fine young secular humanists ready to champion the cause of idolatrous man centeredness.

“In the Tasmanian Health and wellbeing syllabus, five dimensions are identified: physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual health. The five dimensions of health overlap and interconnect; general wellbeing is dependent on continual growth and development in all five dimensions.”[iv]

The government is interested in the spiritual health and wellbeing of all students. It is in the business of discipling students in how and what to think about god, for spiritual wellbeing.

Further than this, the Tasmanian state education curriculum seeks to promote a particular type of spiritual health;

“a positive sense of belonging, meaning and purpose in life. I[ncluding] values and beliefs that determine the way people live.”[v]

The Tasmanian school curriculum shapes the hearts and minds of children to believe the truth claim story of classical secular humanism – man is autonomous, the centre of the universe and by definition man is the sovereign.

Our state educators understand that worldviews shape character. They understand that he who controls the schools shapes the next generations behavior. The Tasmanian Education Department understands that education cannot occur in a moral vacuum. All aspects of the curriculum are interconnected and form integral parts of creating a complete worldview that informs thinking, believing and behavior. State schools provide a well-funded, powerful platform for shaping the minds and hearts of children in the direction of serving the state’s goals and objectives.

Counting the cost

As Christians we must stop, take stock and count the cost of who is discipling our children. Are we saturating our children in the story of the King? Are we being faithful stewards of the next generation of Christian men and women? Or are well selling our inheritance to fill our gut?

There is a war raging. Secular humanists want to control the worldview of the next generation. They want to school Christian children because they know how to win the battle. They have designed the state funded, age segregated schooling framework to capture the hearts and minds of our children; to destroy the Christian family.

Education department literature is clear;

“values education ought to be explicitly planned for, implemented and monitored.”[vi]

Lines have been drawn, a long time ago by men such as Horace Mann (1796–1859), John Dewey (1859–1952) and Thomas Huxley (1825-1895). Education is the battle of the stories. The prize is the hearts and minds of future generations. Whoever rules the schools controls the storyline.

Education is a Gospel issue and should no longer be ignored by pastors and families alike. All Christian parents are charged by God to enculturate their children in the faithful, true, old story of the Great King of the universe (Eph. 6:4) who rules the world (Matt 28:18-20) and requires our whole hearted obedience in everything (Matt 12:30, 1 Cor 10:31, 2 Cor 10:5). 

Don’t let this article depress you. It is a call to arms for fathers. Take responsibility for the discipleship of the souls that God has entrusted to you. God is faithful. He has and will equip you. Make sure that every area of your children’s education (curriculum, friends, entertainment, sport, heroes et al) acknowledges the kingship of the Messiah. See yourself as a trustee who must ensure the Biblical integrity of the rearing of your children. Understand your home to be a mini church, a place where in your children flourish, learn and grow in worshipping the King. We all need to repent of our sins and put our hand to the plough for the kingdom of God. Let us go forward destroying our idols and seeking first the Kingdom of God. Then and only then will we see our culture being transformed by the Gospel.

A Gospel education brings every subject, every area of life under the sovereignty of King Jesus and His Word. A Gospel education gets the storyline, the plot and the characters in right order.

End notes

[i] The Tasmanian Curriculum: Health and wellbeing, K-10 syllabus and support materials, p. 7. Accessed on 28/06/13: https://www.education.tas.gov.au/documentcentre/Documents/Tas-Curriculum-K-10-Health-and-Wellbeing-Syllabus-and-Support.pdf.

[ii] Op cit., The Tasmanian Curriculum: Health and wellbeing, K-10 syllabus and support materials, p. 7.

[iii] Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, 2008, as cited in Giving Voice to the Impacts of Values Education: The Final Report of the Values in Action Schools Project, 2010, p.1.

[iv] Op cit., The Tasmanian Curriculum: Health and wellbeing, K-10 syllabus and support materials, p. 5.

[v] Op cit., The Tasmanian Curriculum: Health and wellbeing, K-10 syllabus and support materials, p. 5.

[vi] Op cit., Values for Australian Schooling Professional Learning Resources – Primary, 2005, p. 11.


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