By Marla Helseth, Mother of two students at Agape Christi
Now that school is in full swing at Agape Christi Academy, I can look back on my hectic preparations and laugh. We all have different reasons why “back to school” can be a chaotic time, and usually it has to do with shopping and finding the right items before they’re all gone. My hectic beginning had to do with my error of assuming school started a week later than it actually did!
Thankfully my kids already had their uniforms and school supplies, and they were actually excited when I told them school started in four days, so it all worked out well! And although I may have dropped the ball in preparing our kids for the first week of school, my husband and I are quite confident that the school itself, Agape Christi Academy, is doing well to assist us in preparing our children to think and interact with the world around them.
A question my husband and I continue to ask ourselves is, “What do we want our children to become? How do we want our kids to view the world as they live in it?” Because even among Christians, there are differing views of the world, our culture, and our involvement in both.
The phrase, “the integration of faith and learning” is one that is often repeated in Christian education circles. What is typically meant when using this phrase is that Christians are to take a subject or an academic discipline and add their faith to it and thereby “make it Christian;” integration is something Christians do.
In contrast, Agape Christi’s philosophy of education states, “As Christian parents and teachers, we must understand that ultimately nothing can be known, and therefore taught, unless God has made it known. Without God there would be nothing to know and thus nothing to teach.” If God has created all things for us to know, then the world is already integrated. In other words, we are already living in the “theater of God’s glory” to quote John Calvin, and integration, rather than being something we do is something we discern.
This philosophy of education statement is a primary reason why we’ve chosen to work with Agape Christi in the education of our kids. I cannot predict and tell my kids what to think about every situation they will encounter once grown. But by God’s grace, I can equip them with a proper view of God, reality, themselves, and their purpose—those underlying beliefs that will prepare them to think rightly about whatever issue they face.
A second reason we’ve chosen to partner with Agape Christi comes from Psalm 78:1-6.
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
While involved in a study on the Psalms a few years ago, the commandments in Psalm 78 caught my attention. I had a superficial knowledge that we needed to teach our children about God, but I didn’t realize the weight and importance the LORD places on what and how to teach our children. It is a commandment that we teach our children, and even our children’s children, all the glorious deeds and marvelous works that God has done.
If God is the Creator of all things, if everything is “from him and through him and to him” (Romans 11:36) and if he has done such marvelous works, then it seems to me that the only conclusion we can make is that our children need a decidedly God-centered education; a Christian education. How each family works that out is their decision, but I’m convinced the scriptures command that Christian children need to be God-taught.
Public schools repeatedly claim that they do not teach a particular religion; they profess to be “neutral” when it comes to promoting one religion over another. I learned early on from my theology-professor husband that “religious neutrality” doesn’t exist. All people have a belief system or a “religion” that they adhere to. Public schools that teach that the One True God doesn’t exist are teaching the religions of atheism or agnosticism, denying the creation of all things by God and essentially lying to their students.
The other belief system commended in public schools is that all religions are valid. What’s true for one person may not be true for another, but both paths are acceptable and should be respected. The assumption underlying this teaching is that there is no one way to salvation, and so they are denying the exclusivity of Christ. Public schools are teaching that there is more than one way to God, and again, are lying to our children.
Some would counter, “but the public schools don’t say God doesn’t exist, they just don’t involve religion at all.” My answer is still the same. By not acknowledging and looking to the One True God as the Source of all truth, they are implicitly claiming He is not relevant to those truths studied in their schools. And if God is irrelevant, He is not God and there is no Truth – truth is whatever you want it to be. That’s called atheism. I don’t have the time or inclination to indulge that influence if I am to train my kids as Psalm 78 prescribes.
Making mistakes in preparing kids with the right school supplies or helping them arrive on the right day of school is one thing. Preparing them to face the world and all that is in it is another. I don’t want my son and daughter to be captivated by the dazzling philosophies of this world. The “vain imaginations” of this world may seem small during the grammar school years, but ultimately, by the time our kids are grown, these ideas lead to the kind of thinking that is very anti-Christ. Ideas, for example, that calls the killing of 50 million unborn children “women’s health.”
With God’s help and the help of a loving Christian community like the parents and staff at Agape Christi, Christian children will be trained not only to recognize these philosophies as false, but also to cast down the lies and take a stand for Truth. They will then teach the things of God to their children, and we will all be following the commands of scripture, setting our hope in our God who loves us and gave Himself for us.