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Monday, November 28, 2005 

Should We Pull Christians Out of Public Schools?

I have been busy lately, but comments made on my last post have given me cause to think a great deal about Christians in politics and Christians in the public schools. My friend Theresa wrote an interesting comment on the last post and I wanted to repost it here as a springboard to discussion on the topic of educating our Christian children in public school systems. And of course, I can never skip over a chance to quote Martin Luther, as she has done. Here it is:

Hey. This is interesting to me. Maybe instead of fighting battles that will not be won, Christians should pull out of the public school system all together. Will it not be our responsibility as Believing parents to provide our children with a Christ-centered education? Can we expect a non-believing government to do that? Should we expect that? Check out "Excused Absence: Should Christian Kids Leave Public Schools?" by Douglas Wilson. I know he is over the top sometimes but this is great.Anyway, I think that pulling out would benefit our children far more than insisting on being out of school for Christmas and Easter. Remember pals, Non-believers cannot act like Christians for Christ is not in them. Let's not be unfair and expect them to. I will end with a quote from the great reformer Martin Luther."I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt...I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraining them in the hearts of youth."What do you think?
Yes, indeed -- What DO you think? Do you agree or disagree with Theresa's assessment of the future of the public schools and her solution (taking our kids out of them in favor of Christian education)? Additionally, what do you think about what Luther said and do you think it still makes sense for today? By the way, if you are going to comment, please do us the courtesy of defending your statements logically and Biblically. It makes for a better discussion that way.

How dare you suggest I defend my position logically and biblically. I refuse.

Just kidding. I heard a story on the radio this past weekend (I can't find a link to it) about a father who was banned from his child's school campus because he refused to leave until the administrators acknowledged his complaint. He was furious that his elementary-aged child was being taught (without parental consent) about the homosexual lifestyle. The ban was recently lifted, though there has been no acknowledgement of wrongdoing on the school's part. Seems that some school teachers and administrators feel that it is their right to teach children about alternative sexual lifestyles without first gaining permission from parents. And their case would probably hold up in court--so long as the teaching was aimed at "education" rather than "advocacy." In NC, a Christian group protested when the school brought in a New Age "stress reduction" speaker to show the children how to reduce stress using New Age techniques. Listen to it here. Our schools are increasingly out of step with Christian values and
Christian culture. This is to be expected in a culture that equates the separation of church and state with the absence of identifiable Christian values in school and government. But as the NPR story above indicates, separation of church and state does not always mean the absence of religion, just the absence of the Christian religion.

Or how about the school that had students pretend to be Muslims for two weeks. The school was sued. The courts said, "Get over it. There's nothing wrong with that."

Some Christians are staunchly opposed to pulling Christians out of public schools. I mean, aren't we supposed to be salt and light? Sure. But students will never be salt and light--and may never become believers--when the worldview in which they are immersed for the vast majority of their lives until age 18 is, essentially, anti-Christian.

I think the matter of pulling kids out of public schools and finding or founding alternative educational structures is a personal matter. One that should be pursued with a clear and prayerful mind. Christians who opt out should not be criticized. Neither should Christians who decide to leave their kids in.

We have intentionally chosen to keep our kids in public school, and DO expect them to be salt and light. We teach them 1Tim. 4:12 "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."

We subscribe to the Deuteronomy 6 philosophy that the primary Christian education of our kids should come from us. But we also take a holistic approach to ministry as a family. Our kids are part of our ministry team.

We work on a campus that has been dubbed the "armpit of secular hedonism." We've seen students come here from sheltered Christian backgrounds and get eaten for lunch. For too many of them, their faith is rooted more in family tradition than true belief, and has been too easy. Many of them have never made it their own.

We want our kids to be strong in their faith, and be able to defend it. We want them to understand their responsibility even now to fulfill the Great Commission. We want them to have a passion for God's word, and a heart for the nations.

We are blessed to get to work with college students, because they live out their faith. And our kids have incredible mentors as a result. We even have four of our former students now serving in dangerous places overseas, and willing to die for their faith if God so chooses. Our kids understand that concept.

Our 8-year-old already believes that God is calling him into missions. And probably to a Muslim nation. You can read about his calling under "Heart of a little missionary" on my blog, Sojourner.

He already understands the agony of deeply loving people who you are not assured will come to Christ. Our kids greatly benefit from hearing us dialogue with our non-Christian students from various religious backgrounds.

We also believe that God has not called us to security or comfort. In fact, the teachings of Christ are pretty tough. We see that deep faith comes out of trials and affliction. So we pray that our kids will have enough suffering in their lives to drive them harder into God, and to cause them to rely on His Word.

We also believe that persecution may come to America in our lifetime. If it does, then we will not be able to fall back on our religious freedoms. Our kids will have to be firmly rooted in their faith.

But these are just our own family philosophies. I totally agree with cks that this is a deeply personal matter and should be explored individually and prayerfully, with lots of grace and understanding in our differences.

I believe that it is a personal decision for parents to make. Our choice is to remove our children from the public school arena but not totally from public life. Our children interact publicly with children their age but not in a setting that is designed to indoctrinate them.
I agree with you Kiki about sheltered children having more traditional family values than orthodox Christian faith. That is the real challenge.
But what about the challenge of over-coming 8 hours a day, 5 days a week of secular indoctrination?What about these children becoming so much like the world that they have no influence on it? The social, emotional, and the physical emphasis is too much for these children to deal with.
The surprising thing to me isn't that so many children are swept away through the broad gate but that some can be saved and make it through the narrow gate after dealing with so much of the world.

I'm with Kiki on this one. Our kids go to public schools. I have to say first of all that the public schools in our community are nothing like those examples from the left coast or Florida. A good many of the teachers in our public schools - and a good many of the administrators as well - are members of our churches.

In addition, I recall growing up in public schools. I remember the time we had a "values clarification" session in one of my classes - you know, where you have a boat that will hold 10 people but you have 15, who do you leave off? But I also knew that the values I had received at home were more closely held than the values this teacher may have been trying to instill in me. After all, I knew my parents loved me and wanted the best for me. I had a deep relationship with them. This teacher was, well, just a teacher at school. So I knew there was something wrong with the question and it in no way affected my values.

At the same time, I think we should be teaching our children to be strong - strong in mind, strong in faith. Sometimes I think we send them the opposite message when we tell them that we have to protect them from all of the boogie men out there because we don't have any confidence that they can handle it on their own. Truly, sometimes they can't and we are charged with protecting them in those cases. But I don't want to wait until my kids turn 18 and go off to college to lose their faith because I've pampered them for the past 18 years. I want them to grow up believing the world is their mission field - and that their school is a part of that mission field. It may be tough at times, but greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

It is interesting to me that removing children from the public school system is 'pampering them'.
I don't want to make more of this than is there on the surface but as a publicly schooled person myself... and as one who works with children and young adults... the public school system structure is accomplishing exactly what it was supposed to: raising up generations who value self and satisfaction more than God and His Word.
We must consider the dangers and weigh the risks... whatever it is we do.
For His Glory!

I agree with Stephen. The decision to pull a child out of public school, to my mind, would not be indicative of pampering. (I suspect that maybe that was just a less-than-the-best choice of wording, and nothing more.) I think Kiki makes a pretty solid case for leaving kids in, but I'm just not so sure I would want them indoctrinated into a Christ-less worldview on my dime. The issue for me would not be sheltering them from the "real" world, but rather making sure that they embrace and are able to defend the biblical worldview--i.e., reality as God defines it.

So my goal would be the same as Kiki's, but I'm not sure my method would be the same. (Admission: I don't have kids yet. So my thoughts could very well change on down the line.) I'm grateful that God often chooses to bless the imperfect, and imperfectly-arrived-at, decisions of those who seek His will. That gives us some much-needed, gracious leeway in making decisions that aren't specifically or categorically addressed in scripture.

Actually I'm not equating pulling kids out of the public school system with pampering them, though that could play a part in that. My kids didn't start school at birth, so the reference to pampering them for 18 years has to do with a way of life, not just this one aspect of it.

I've been in church all my life. Current statistics indicate that the vast majority of churched kids will become significantly less faithful to Christian values and the church upon graduation from high school. My contention is that the primary reason is that parents/families have given away their God-ordained responsibilities to train their children. What I'm saying is that it doesn't matter if my kids go to public schools or private Christian schools, the primary responsibility for their training will always belong to me and my wife. Too many parents leave the training of their kids to a school teacher or a Sunday School teacher or a children's minister or a youth minister. And because we have not taken control of the training of our own children we send them off to college and pray like the dickens that they'll return to church one day. Why? Because some public school teacher indoctrinated them in godless ways? Hardly. More likely because moms and dads have abdicated their own responsibilities.

I can assure you that any "christless indoctrination" that is attempted on my kids will fail if I do my job right at home.

But, again, I think we are often pointing our guns at the wrong people. My daughter's first grade teacher was also a faithful church member and good friend. To suggest she was giving her a "christless indoctrination" is hardly what was happening. In our current church we have both retired and active teachers in various schools in our community. We have principles who have taken courageously Christian stands. To label all public school education as "christless indoctrination" because of some weirdos in California and Florida seems a lot like a knee-jerk reaction to me.

And at the same time, my oldest daughter's current teacher doesn't attend church anywhere as far as I know, but I am involved in her school on a regular basis, I am regularly talking to her about what she is learning/doing at school, my wife and I are involved in the parent/teacher organization and I think it is safe to say that this young unconverted teacher is still not giving my daughter a "christless indoctrination" unless you consider spelling, reading and basic math christless indoctrination. It also allows my daughter to invite her unchurched friends over to the house and to church activities. Things that would not happen if we cloistered her somewhere.

By the way, I'm not against private education, homeschooling or any of that. I'm for all of the options. I'm against the notion that there is only one really godly alternative. That's why the resolution-that-never-made-it-to-the-floor on homeshchooling at the national convention was so ridiculous. In my opinion, anyway.

Well, what I really wrote was "indoctrination into a Christ-less worldview," rather than "christless indoctrination," as you have put it time and agin in your post. I suppose I'm splitting hairs. But a Christ-less worldview is exactly what one gets with public school education. It just comes with the territory. You've turned my descriptive statement into a perjorative assessment of public education in toto.

Charges of knee-jerk reactionism notwithstanding, surely someone with children in public education would be hard pressed not to realize that a Christless worldview is exactly what is being served up in public education. To think otherwise is to have blinders firmly in place.

unless you consider spelling, reading and basic math christless indoctrination.

Is this supposed to be funny? I missed the joke. Spelling, reading, and basic math are Christ-exalting, God-glorifying activities. I don't understand the thrust of the implicit supposition behind your oh-so-droll statement. I don't understand the dichotomy some Christian parents see between Christianity, on the one hand, and "real-world" education, on the other.

The difference between Kentucky (where I live) and California is about 22 hours and 5 years. As California goes, so goes the nation. The exercise of pretending-to-be-Muslims for three weeks in Byron, CA, is constitutive of the future of American public education. It just hasn't made it this far East yet. But it will.

And, by the bye, when I have children, and if I decide against public school education, it will not be so that I can "cloister" them. It will be so that I and my wife can educate them properly at home.

I'm against the notion that there is only one really godly alternative. Which was the point of my first post here.

What you do seem to be against is my suggestion that public education in today's America is inherently Christ-less. I can't fathom a thinking individual who believes otherwise.

I am not speaking against homeschooling, either. I was homeschooled for the first three years of my school life. But to be honest, it was not a great choice for my family. It was tough on my Mom, who had so much on her shoulders already just trying to survive in the African bush.

But then we moved closer to town and attended Zimbabwean public schools. (Christian school was not an option in sub-Saharan Africa.) And I was exposed to some interesting challenges. (Like the day I had to ask the teacher if I could leave the room while they held a seance).

Then at 14, I got thrown into an even MORE secular environment, when I went off to boarding school. I was sent out of the country, to the American International School in South Africa. Talk about a non-Christian environment!!!

But you know what? I wouldn't change any of that. And my parents wouldn't change any of that. Was it tough? YES. Did my beliefs get challenged? DEFINITELY. Did I make some poor choices, in the absence of parental influence? ABSOLUTELY!

I spent the next four years of my life in college, across the ocean from my parents. I had to learn to make my faith my own.

BUT.......I have learned to be so thankful for the blessing of affliction in my life. My Dad recently wrote me a letter, in which he told me how hard it was for he and Mom to watch me go through those hardships and tests of my faith ALONE.

But Matt 10:37 is still in the Bible, and it's message is clear. Dad told me that they prayed their hearts out for us. It was so hard sometimes to trust God's providence in our lives. Then he stated in his letter, "But hon, I cannot apologize for the call of God on our lives."

I am thankful for parents who put God above me. I'm grateful that I grew up surrounded by non-Christians and had so many opportunities to share my faith. I am glad that I grew up in a dangerous,war-torn country, where I was driven by circumstances to depend on God.

I can't help but think that my parents gave me the greater gift by NOT surrounding me with comfort and safety. They could have left the mission field at any time, and returned to the security of the United States. But they BELIEVED Matt. 6:33. They trusted that God would honor their obedience in putting Him before their children.

And He has! God has blessed me in so many ways, and I marvel at His continuing favor. But I also believe that there is a direct correlation between my parent's decision, and the hand of God on my life.

Sometimes I wonder how I would have turned out if I had been given security, comfort, and the "best" education as a child. But I also know my human nature, and how I have a tendency to stray from God when things get too easy.

I am SO THANKFUL that my parents chose the road less traveled, and that they allowed the blessing of trials and affliction in my life.

cks wrote: "unless you consider spelling, reading and basic math christless indoctrination.

Is this supposed to be funny? I missed the joke. Spelling, reading, and basic math are Christ-exalting, God-glorifying activities. I don't understand the thrust of the implicit supposition behind your oh-so-droll statement. I don't understand the dichotomy some Christian parents see between Christianity, on the one hand, and "real-world" education, on the other."

And then wrote:
"What you do seem to be against is my suggestion that public education in today's America is inherently Christ-less. I can't fathom a thinking individual who believes otherwise."

I'm just wondering which it is? Is reading, math and spelling Christ-exalting and God-glorifying or inherently Christ-less? I have kids in school and I'm simply trying to discover what it is that they are inherently learning from their teachers (one who is a believer, the other, I don't know) that is inherently Christ-less. If those basic skills are Christ-exalting and God-glorifying then it seems to me that they are inherently full of Christ, not devoid of Christ.

I also don't quite see the difference between the phrase "indoctrinated into a Christ-less worldview" and "christless indoctrination." Could you help me to see the difference?

Just a couple more thoughts. One is that you seem offended by what I've written. I don't mean to offend. But the original question wasn't what is your personal preference for the education of your children, but "Should We Pull Christians Out of Public Schools?" You didn't seem to like me implying that you think public education is godless "in toto," but I'm having a hard time seeing anything you've mentioned yet that is worth redeeming there. You've called it inherently Christ-less. If that isn't in toto then I'm not sure I understand what you are saying.

Again, please don't be offended. I do have children in public schools and I also have fellow church-members who teach in those schools. I don't believe what they teach in class is inherently Christ-less. They are giving my children some basic skills in life which will be vital for them as they grow. I'm not saying there aren't problems. I am saying that parental involvement is vital in all of it and I also believe that with proper parental involvement in most public schools our children will be both educated and in a setting where they can be salt and light to kids in our community who don't wake up on Sunday mornings thinking, "Where will I go to church today?"

Let me try to make myself clearer for you.

You ask: "If those basic skills are Christ-exalting and God-glorifying then it seems to me that they are inherently full of Christ, not devoid of Christ."

This is a simple category mistake. My point is that these basic skills are not taught in public education as if they are Christ-exalting, God-glorifying pursuits.

In fact, they are. The fact that they are in God's reality what I have claimed them to be does not mitigate the fact that they are not taught as such in public education. Please don't confuse what is (in the day-to-day reality of public education) with what is true here.

Yes, those activities are inherently "full of Christ," but public education typically does not recognize this fact.

You state, "I also don't quite see the difference between the phrase "indoctrinated into a Christ-less worldview" and "christless indoctrination." Could you help me to see the difference?"

The most glaring and obvious difference is grammatical. In my phrase, "Christ-less" adjectivally qualifies "worldview." In your misquotation, "Christ-less" modfies "indoctrination." That much seems patently obvious to me. You seem to have equated my charge of indoctrination into a Christ-less worldview as tantamount to the charge of an intentionally "evil" form of indoctrination in public education. But that's simply not my point at all. Evil it is, as are all worldviews that either willfully or unintentially displace Christ from center stage. But I would suggest, more often than not, such is not the intention of public school teachers. The effect, however, is the same.

What I would like to see is some sort of evidence of your implicit assumption that public education is not inherently Christ-less.

You write, "We have principles who have taken courageously Christian stands." I assume you mean "principals." I don't deny this (and I would be monumentally encouraged by any examples you care to provide).

My point is that public education in today's America is increasingly non-Christian. And in some cases, like the ones I cited above, anti-Christian.

Fundamentally, there may be very little difference between "christless indoctrination" as you have it and "indoctrination into a Christ-less worldview" as I have. But it pays to mark grammatical differences, especially in print media, so that we don't misrepresent the views of others, as I believe you've done with me.

But again, I fail to see any evidence that public education in America today is inherently Christ-exalting. Even in the basics of math, spelling, and the like. Please educate me if I'm wrong.

I want to elaborate on something Paul said, because it's a concept that has really been bothering me lately. But I also know I will receive criticism for even asking these questions. Oh well, here goes:

You said: "Actually I'm not equating pulling kids out of the public school system with pampering them, though that could play a part in that. My kids didn't start school at birth, so the reference to pampering them for 18 years has to do with a way of life, not just this one aspect of it."

The way we pamper our kids in America bothers me. I am beginning to wonder if we are guilty of idolatry when it comes to our children.

Here is what I am struggling with, and I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone. Do we have the right to pour the resources that God has entrusted us with into making our kids comfortable, or ensuring a certain "lifestyle" for them?

And how does that fit with the greatest commandment and the great commission? If I choose to invest in a certain standard of living rather than using those resources to reach the lost, am I saying to the unreached that my child's comfort is more important than your soul? Am I telling God that my selfish desires for my child supercede His Will?

Is that what Jesus was referring to in Matt. 10:37? "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

And what message are we sending to impoverished Christians around the world, who are not able to provide that standard for their own children? It seems wrong to me that the US has 5% of the world's population, yet consumes more than 25% of the world's resources.

I just wonder sometimes if what we call "blessing" in America may actually be a curse when it comes to having lasting kingdom value.


I haven't made a category mistake. If something is, in itself, God honoring then it matters little if it is taught that way or not. I don't have to sit down with my daughter and tell her that 27 + 32 = 59 "because God made numbers that way." I don't even have to tell her that God wants her to know how to add. So if teaching those things in and of themselves are God-honoring things then my daughter's teacher doesn't have to pray before the math lesson to somehow sanctify it. If she, even as a lost person, teaches my daughter that math equation then God is honored in that. Whether the teacher overtly recognizes God or not in that matter hardly seems the issue. And if my child comes home and I teach them that God honors their learning then they have learned the lesson.

Next, your grammar lesson is incomplete. If you were to diagram the sentences you would see that "indoctrination" or some derivative thereof is the verb. "Christ-less worldview" and "christless" both modify the verb. It hardly matters that "Christ-less" adjectivally modifies "worldview" when the two words together modify indoctrination. A simple sentence diagram would make that clear. Besides, you state that there is no fundamental difference. How, then, have I misrepresented what you have said? That makes no sense.

But if there has been misrepresentation it is in your claim that I have implicitly said that public education is inherently Christ-exalting. As an institution that is obviously not the case. However, when the subjects being dealt with have no explicit values attached I don't see how the case can be made either way. When I took geometry in high school there were no values placed on Pythagoras' theorems. Same for typing, English lit. and PE. My world history class was taught by an ordained Presbyterian minister. And I attended one of the roughest public high schools in Oklahoma City. I realize that a lot has probably changed since then. Again, I'm not saying that there is a Christ-exalting agenda in public schools. But I'm not ready to look those teachers in our church in the eye and charge them with supporting (explicitly or implicitly) the indoctrination of their students with a Christ-less worldview. Sometimes I think we forget how many of our public school teachers are also some of our regular church members.

Kiki, you said it better than I could. I basically preached that Sunday morning and probably offended some, but it is a message that I have to admit is as/more applicable to me than to anyone.

My 17 year old neice has decided to ask for nothing for Christmas this year. She has her own Xanga and posted pictures of hungry kids and people with basic needs and essentially said, "How can I ask for a new cell phone when there are people who don't have clean water to drink?" I was one impressed uncle.

And that is the kind of pampering I meant. We so shelter and protect our kids that by the time they graduate from high school they don't see themselves as missionaries to their future college or place of employment. Instead they generally leave the church all together because we have had such low expectations of/for them.

And as far as the resources we have and how we invest them? I agree. My wife and I have a clear plan to eliminate all debt so we can start giving money away.

Let me add a couple of things that I hope will serve to show why we are divided so much on our viewpoints on this issue.

1. We all carry with us a description in our minds of what a public school is like. That comes from our own experiences, as well as those which we feel are either most beneficial or most detrimental.
2. There is a difference in educational struggles and personal, faith struggles. I honestly don't think the public school system in general prepares kids for college as well as parochial schools, homeschooling, and classical schools. I think the educational challenges are greater at those types of schools. Also, the discipline is greater. These kids have to work hard to walk in lock-step with the academic level. Thus I don't see any pampering in that regard. However, there is less likelihood that they will be exposed to some things that will rock their faith in those environments. So the choice comes down often, though not always, to academics v. the schol of hard knocks.
3. There are certain learning (or lack thereof) environments that none of us would want our children exposed to on both sides of this. There are some parochial schools and homeschoolers that put out children who are sheltered and inept in social situations. At the same time there are some public schools where the disciplinary problems are so terribly distracting that no real learning can take place (on a side note, as a Substitute teacher, I was at one of those type of schools today). So none of us should see that type of environment in what each other is advocating.

I think in the end situation does matter. Some places might have great public schools, like the one I went to in Memphis (or those that still exist in the Memphis area). However, others some schools and administrators are indeed trying to foster a culture of anti-Christianity in their public schools. In either case we must be discerning. And while we should not assume that public schools and therefore non-Christian organizations ought to act Christlike or adhere to Christian sensibilities, we also should not expect them to act in an anti-Christian manner as well. Separation of Church and State works both ways (even if the ACLU and Americans United don't see it that way).

First of all, thanks cks for your thoughtful insights. Being an educator, I also enjoyed the brief grammar lesson. Those are often needed!

I have a few more thoughts.
Pampering children: I teach at a local classical christian institution and those students are by no means being pampered. Ninth graders are dealing with material such as Mein Komph. Hardly simple info to grapple with. Aside from the subject matter these children deal with they are being taught how to respond to a secular worldview. Sure you can teach them that at home but are they receiving intellectual knowledge they will need to survive in a post modern world?
I think that we are mandated to provide our children with a complete Biblical worldview. I don't care how nice and how Christian (praise God those missionaries are in place) a public school educator is, they are not given the freedom to do that in a government school. Providing children with what is best for them can hardly be considered pampering.

Reading, writing, math:
I am sure that in some public schools students are learning great reading, writing, and math skills. However, how wonderful is it to be taught why those skills glorify God. What a blessing to have teacher that understands that math is a result of God's created order! And what a greater blessing to have a teacher who can freely give that truth to his/her students. A Christ-centered education gives a new light to these "basic" skills.

Also about the salt and light bit. I am all for that. Nothing gets me more excited than missions. And I cannot wait to instill that in my children, but let's be honest with ourselves. How many school-aged children are storming through the doors of their school with the Gospel? I would love to see a generation of believer's completing school well educated with a Biblical worldview storming college campuses for the Kingdom of Christ. My friends, I do not believe that is possible unless they are bombarded with that particular world-view every single minute of their day.

I am by no means trying to say that parents are not primarily responsible. The responsibilty of parents is the cry of my heart and that is precisely why I believe parents should take every step needed to protect their children from a secular world. How responsible would it be to throw a kitten into a pack of wild dogs? I know that is a bit extreme but think about this: How safe is a Christian middle schooler in a government school with a non-believing teacher? Do they stand a chance? Will that teacher spur him to God honoring thoughts and behavior? I hardly think so. It makes perfect since to me to place children in an environment to foster spiritual growth. Think of the faith your child would develop when completely surrounded by that lifestyle. While developing this world view I completely believe they should put it into practice, right alongside their parents. Families should involve themselves with non-Christian families. Let the lost see how a Christian family works. Teach your children to love those families. Allow them to be salt and light that way. Please do not send them into a pack of dogs unattended and expect them to make it!

With all of that said, if you so desire to allow your children to be educated by the government then be careful what you complain about. Like I said before the lost do not have the ability to act Christ-like. So don't expect them to. They will act as though they are lost. They will pass laws that do not honor Christ. They will do all they can to remove Christ. That is what we should expect. Let's not be surprised by their behavior.

I also have a question. Can anyone show me Biblical support for government education?

Nice point DR.

I forgot to add I am a product of public education. I didn't want to come across as one who had never been exposed to the "real" world.


You wrote: "With all of that said, if you so desire to allow your children to be educated by the government then be careful what you complain about."

I hope that I did not come across as complaining in any way. I am thankful for our schoool, and think my kids have received a great education. Their Stanford Achievement Test scores back that up. Both are "A" students and scored in the top 10 percentile nationwide.

Their school is a very positive environment, with a diverse and holistic curriculum that includes the arts. My daughter even takes saxaphone lessons at school. Technology is integrated into the classroom. In first grade they were already learning to use sound bites. Our high school has a special math/science program through a partnership with Johns Hopkins.

As far as there not being a Christian influence in public schools--I beg to differ. Our school librarian read the "Chronicles of Narnia" to them last year. Our Moms in Touch group posts regular announcements in the school paper, and receives prayer requests from teachers. Our school superintendent is a devout Christian and unashamed of his faith. We have active Young Life and Wyld Life groups that meet in the Middle and High Schools.

Last year in my son's class, they were talking about grandparent's day, and Joshua mentioned that his grandparents were missionaries. The teacher asked him to explain what that was to the class.

My daughter's teacher knows that she is a Christian, and respects her faith. As a result of her testimony, he felt free enough to ask me some questions about Christianity in our parent/teacher conference.

You also asked, "how many school-aged children are storming the doors of the school with the gospel?" Well, I could introduce you to several kids who unashamedly live out their faith. I find the environment in our schools, while not Christian, to be very "spiritually open."

But I want to clarify our definition of "sharing the gospel."
We believe that the Biblical model for presenting Christ is to love people without an agenda, and "always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have within you, doing so with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15) We do NOT believe in assaulting people with a gospel presentation. We DO believe in building meaningful relationships with people, and living out our faith both practically and verbally.

Our kids are learning to defend their Christian worldview, because they get asked about it fairly regularly. But it is not a big deal to them. They've been doing it since they were little, so explaining their faith is a natural part of their identity.

And an 8-year-old can indeed be spiritually sensitive. Why do you think Jesus said that we should become like little children? Read my verbatim interview with my son at my blog (Sojourner), under "Heart of a Little Missionary." My kids challenge me regularly, and we openly discuss things that God is teaching us in our home.

As far as our kids being prepared to defend a Biblical worldview when they get to college--they are in that environment every day!!! Our kids serve alongside us in campus ministry, and get to see some of the best and brightest college students modeling a Christian lifestyle.

They are also exposed to people from various religions. We have students from all faiths, including Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, who come to our home. Our kids meet students from all over the world. 1/3 of the students at CMU are internationals, so our group is very diverse.

CMU is also a very prestigious academic university. One of the students in our group writes the software that is uploaded to the Mars Rover. Another has his own software company. A third is a biomedical robotic engineer working on the next generation of holographic imaging devices. One of our recent graduates is now performing on Broadway.

Our kids are more prepared than most to face that environment. I don't think their public education has harmed them in any way.

But once again, these are personal choices that each family has to make. My concern, though, is that we not become so separatist that we fail to build authentic relationships outside of Christian circles. Because we can't be shining light if we are never immersed in the darkness.


I woke up this morning and thought about what I wrote last night. I owe you an apology. I just re-read it, and it sounds pretty snotty.

I appreciate all of you educators out there--both public and private. I couldn't do your job, and admire you for being able to teach.

I think both of us just want the best for our kids. I'm sorry that I got a little defensive and proud.

Okay. One more grammatical point and I'm done with that.

I wrote: "I'm just not so sure I would want them indoctrinated into a Christ-less worldview on my dime," where the prepositional phrase "into a Christ-less worldview" does, in fact, function adverbially to modify the verb phrase "would want them indoctrinated."

The rather intractable rules of grammar force me to concede your point here, which I'm glad to do.

But I just cannot concede this: "I haven't made a category mistake. If something is, in itself, God honoring then it matters little if it is taught that way or not."

I think you're just absolutely, 100% wrong at this point. Think of the implications of that statement. Think of what you're giving away. Christ, the Logos, informs, surrounds, and underpins all things without exception. As Paul puts it, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

Paul writes that one of the reasons God raised Christ from the dead, and declared him "the beginning," and the Head of the Church, is "so that in everything he might have the supremacy." Of course it matters the way things are taught to our children. Even the basics of reading, spelling, and math.

Now, if a parent has godly, good reasons for keeping a child in public education, so be it. But personally, I surely wouldn't want to argue that one of the reasons to keep them there is because it just doesn't matter whether they are taught in a way that exalts the glory of God or not.

And I never suggested anything so piously naive as praying before math lessons to sanctify them. My suggestion, I think, which I get from Paul's statement, which is God's revealed truth, is a bit more radical than that: in everything Christ is supreme. It is not enough to give lip service to this trhuth and then act as if it really doesn't matter whether Christ is actually treated as supreme in teaching. If parents are able to instill the supremacy of Christ in the hearts of their children despite public school education (or perhaps, in some limited sense, by way of same), then more power to them.

But Christ matters in math all the same.

Anonymous has stated my own feelings anent the subject in a much more generous, non-combative way, so I'll just quote her: "What a blessing to have teacher that understands that math is a result of God's created order! And what a greater blessing to have a teacher who can freely give that truth to his/her students. A Christ-centered education gives a new light to these 'basic' skills."

Thank you Kiki for your example. Your action here has admonished me. Praise God for fellow Christians.

Paul, I owe you an apology as well. My words to you have been less than generous. My pride corrupted my point. I'm sorry.

I am sorry I missed out on most of this conversation. My internet went out at home last night and so I am getting in on the end of this conversation.
Paul, earlier you spoke of parents who think that church and sunday school are the tools to teach our children (I am not quoting verbatim here) and I totally agree! While I agree with Theresa (I think she is the one who brought up the idea that an eighth grader stands no chance with an atagonistic teacher) I can see that it isn't only the public school system. It is the church and the parents who must reconsider what Deuteronomy 6 4-9 really means and how it must be lived out 24/7.
How much of our lives reflect this command? Romans 14:23 says that 'whatever does not proceed from faith is sin'. John 4:24 says that those who worship God must worship Him is spirit and truth.
Does our schedule reflect this? Does our attitude reflect this? Does our checkbook reflect this? Do our priorities reflect this?
Have we actually taken every thought captive to obey Christ?
I think this is the place to start so that, like Paul, we can say ...I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content... I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
(Just a side note... as I was reading about spelling and grammar... All of the grammatical and spelling errors make me smile!)
Soli deo gloria


I agree with what you said (don't ask me to quote it all). It does matter how it is taught. What I was trying to say is that the primary people who will convey those values to our children are not their public school teachers. I've yet to meet the kid who said that their entire worldview came from their middle school or high school history teacher. Our kids get their worldview from those that are closest to them - generally their parents. Having grown up in public schools I can tell you that I was exposed to every vice and temptation available. I also have two brothers who were educated in public schools. Today two of us are pastors and the other is a committed church member. Why is that? Why is it that you and DR and Theresa are the committed believers/leaders that you are? Is it because you got your worldview from your public school teachers? No. You got them from those closest to you.

I think the biggest problem with many of our Christian kids today is that the parents have abdicated their responsibilities. What I'm afraid of is this (there are actually two things): 1) We will send our kids off to private Christian schools and assume as parents that they are, therefore, getting everything they need in terms of their view of the world from God's perspective. Sadly, I've known too many kids who went to private Christian schools who found vice and temptation to be as available, if not more so on a peer level, than they did in public schools. In addition, that would simply mean that, as parents, we have once again abdicated our responsibilities. Even if my child went to a Christian school sponsored by our church I have made an error if I think that I don't have to do anything else because the "Christian worldview" job is being taken care of. No. That is still my responsibility!

In the church I attended in Seminary there was a family with five children ranging in age from about 12 to 20. The father was an ordained minister, but serving as a Dallas police officer. His oldest daughter had a child out of wedlock. His oldest son had been into drugs. His two youngest daughters both got pregnant as teenagers. I'm not condemning all of them for that. But when things started falling apart for them the first person they blamed was the youth minister. Apparently if their son was on drugs and their teenage girls were pregnant the youth minister wasn't doing his job. Do you see the irony in all of that? This is the mindset too many of our people have. It is the school's/Sunday School teacher's/youth minister's/pastor's job to make sure that my kids have a Biblical worldview that is ingrained enough to live by.

I'm for private education. I'm for homeschooling. I'm for public education. But mostly I'm for parental involvement in any and all of those settings. Sure, if my child's school was celebrating "Muslim week" I would protest, or at least exempt my child from that. Sure, if they start teaching my kids about sex I'll be sure to step in. But I think we have a tendency to hear about some of the extreme examples taking place at one school in one district in one state and assume that everyone out there is like that, and they aren't.

Second (boy, did it take me a long time to get to the second point), the example of the family I gave above is what I'm talking about with "pampering." I'm not, as Theresa suggests, talking about Christian schools not being academically challenging. I'm talking about the comment about sending our kids "out to the wolves." I think it takes a great deal of discernment to know what our kids can and cannot handle in being exposed to. But I am confident that we almost always err on the side of overly protecting them. Because of that they hit college and often lose their faith altogether because we have done everything we can to shield them from the influences of the world. We have very low spiritual expectations for our kids and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the end it is not the Christian private school's responsibility to equip my kids for what they will face in the world. It is mine.

And I'll just say this one more time and then I'll let it rest: I think it is a huge mistake to look at good, godly, committed Christian educators who serve in the public school system and call them a "pack of wolves." I think Kiki has given some great examples of how that is often not the case.

Kiki, thanks for your comments. I think you are spot on! [I didn't think it was snotty at all. But then, I'm probably a lot more snotty myself. ;)]

Just a quick comment.

Kiki, thanks for the apology. I did not think you to be "snotty" at all. And my comment about complaining wasn't aimed at you. Maybe I chose the wrong word. What I meant was we should be careful what surprises us.

I have more to add but my break ends in two minutes.

Blessings, Theresa

I guess its time for the Bishop to wade in the water………..

Someone recommended reading a book by Doug Wilson. Let me say, Wilson is a member of my denomination, the PCA, and we would view him as being on the fringe. By that, I mean Wilson is extreme in his views. I don’t even recommend his book on infant baptism. So – if you read Wilson, please do it with that caveat. Wilson is the same line of thinking as R.C. Sproul Jr. who can be extreme at times.

Home schooling is very popular in the PCA. The reason: we believe that God uses the family to expand His kingdom. (Thought it is not the ONLY way the Kingdom expands!) Since we place such a high view on family in relation to the Kingdom you’ll find that many PCA folks home school to guarantee that the values and truth of the Kingdom are placed in the kids hearts. This is something that I would agree with wholeheartedly.

Should we as believers shelter / protect our children from the influence of the world? I would say yes. How often is Israel warned in the Old Testament about being influenced by other cultures? How often are we warned in the New Testament to protect our hearts? We can build a strong case for wanting our children to be under the care and influence of loving and godly parents who teach them their ABC’s but also the promises of the gospel.

Someone will say, “By retreating from public schools, are we not decreasing our influence on society?” That question is meant to evoke an emotional reaction. In reality, by teaching our children at home we are preparing them to impact the world as adults. We should not expect children to change the world. We should expect them to change the world when they become adults. Prayerfully, with the influence of godly parents, they will change it for Christ.

DR’s original question was, “Should we pull out of public schools?” I hate to use the phrase “pull out”, it makes me think we’re abandoning something. I think the Lord calls believers to be missionaries in those schools so I don’t think we should pull our influence. Yet – I don’t we’re required to enroll our children there.

Let us study the scriptures….discover a pattern of how God’s people have taught their children since creation….from that – let’s be convinced as to what to do.

The Pudgy Little Presbyterian….
The Bishop

Bishop Brian,

I am glad to hear your opinion. As someone who frequently reads DR's blog I was curious to know what you thought.

Just one correction. Doug Wilson is not PCA. He is a member of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches. You can check them out at www.crechurches.org. I completely agree with you. He is a bit extreme. But to be fair we should be careful regardless of who we are reading.

Rock on, Daniel! This is some conversation that you started.

I was thinking you wuz a smart dude, but then you went and lumped me in with Steve and Joe and SBC blogging founders, whoa!

Really, thanks for the compliment and the shout out at Jason's blog. Glad you are doing well. BTW, Joe accidentally deleted his entire blog files...it's tabula rosa now.

Shoot me an email at your convenience:




Thanks for bringing attention to this great topic. I work as a school counselor in a K-8 elementary school. Day in and day out I see the effects of a non-Christian environment. I deal with kindergarten students who cuss at one another and teachers, as well. I deal with junior high students who bully and deal drugs in the bathroom stalls. I could go on and on, but my premise is that it is fundamental that we establish our children in Biblical principles and Godly wisdom at an early age.

Think about this for a minute: Yes, we are to be salt and light, and we want our children to be the same, yet their young minds are developmentally taking in so much around them. I have three children, all under the age of 5, and I do not want them exposed to sexual and perverse speech and actions at the kindergarten level. And trust me, this is happening at every school in every district in every state. It is a sinful world, and unfortunately, our little ones are exposed to it.

I believe, both from a Christian worldview and as a counselor, that it is essential to have our children away from harmful exposure at an early age that is so prevalent in the public schools. Unfortunately, it is also happening in private schools, but I believe to a lesser degree.

My personal belief (and it doesn't work for everyone) is that homeschooling is the best option, especially in the early primary years. Here you can ground your children in Scripture and Godly wisdom, and not just family tradition. It is important for your children to be involved in social opportunities with peers, and today that is easy since there are many homeschooling programs and groups throughout communities--both Christian and non-Christian!

Again, it is a family choice. However, I see the effects on young minds every day. I know that my young children are not ready to comprehend and analyze the harmful exposure at such an early age.

I don't think we should ever force anyone to pull their children out of Public Schools. However, my wife homeschools our children. We have seen a difference spiritually in our children since my wife beginning this.

New Blog Post Idea:

Should We Kick D.R. Out of the Blogosphere?

If he doesn't post soon, I'd say "Yes!"


I second that motion, cks. Just kidding. I am checking back often though to find something new.

I appreciate this thread, but I think there's something here that we can learn. The rules were to be Biblical and logical. I think we see that the Bible can't be used to solve all issues. Jesus and Paul didn't have to worry about Catholic and public schools.

If you look through the biblical references, they are quite tenious. Even the theology is scary at times..."But they BELIEVED Matt. 6:33. They trusted that God would honor their obedience in putting Him before their children."

Will putting God first ever mean doing harm to our kids? Only if we are dumb enough to pull a Jephthah!

Howie Luvzus

Hey, I don't mean to open a can of worms but I can't leave this alone.

"I think we can see the Bible can't be used to solve all issues." Are you sure?


Even the theology is scary at times..."But they BELIEVED Matt. 6:33. They trusted that God would honor their obedience in putting Him before their children."

It's scary theology to believe the Bible's promises?

Her point was manifestly not that putting God first will mean harming children. Rather, she meant, I believe, that putting God first may put children in harm's way. There's clearly a difference. The only way to absolutely avoid the second possibility is to put your children above God.

Is that scary? Definitely. But not in the way you meant.


Thanks for having my back. I haven't been able to venture far into the blogosphere for a while.

You have to understand the source on that last comment. Howie has been deeply hurt by the church, which is clearly reflected on his own site. I am sorry that has happened. The church has been brutal to many who are just seeking love and acceptance. I can understand how he would bristle at the concept of putting God before your children.

I used to have an issue with it, too, and dealt with a lot of bitterness as a result. Also hated Matt. 10:37 " Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

But have come to realize that our earthly perspective of "good parenting" and a kingdom perspective of "good parenting" are two different things.

My deepest desire for my kids is that they have a full and abiding relationship with Christ. If it takes persecution and hardship to get them to that point, then isn't that better than a life of comfort and ease without Christ?

The truths of Christianity are tough. There is a reason that few will find the narrow path. It is not an easy road to walk. But it will be worth it on the other side.

I would like for someone to explain to me the brutality that some church has done to the group of liberals posting all the accusations toward the SBC.
I have been around in the denomination all these years and if trying to preserve the integrity of God's Word is brutal, I'm sorry but it has to be that way.

Thanks for directing me to your blog.

Do you have a source for the Luther quote? I found a source for the last half but not the whole thing.


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About me

Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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