Classical Christian schools like Trinitas frequently refer to "the Great Conversation." At its root, the Great Conversation is simply an ongoing exchange of great ideas across time and space. It first requires each successive generation to listen and comprehend the ideas and wisdom of its forebearers and then to contribute constructively to the discussion. Given the lamentable state of public discourse in our world today, it seems that our present generation may be ill-equipped to contribute to the Great Conversation.
The president of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, David Goodwin, places the blame on the shoulders of modern education stating "We are bringing up children who do not have the skills to engage in intellectual discourse, who believe only in themselves, and whose deepest theological thought originates in their own mind.”
Really, Goodwin is restating what we have known for some time, but now the harvest is in—we will reap only what has been sown. The fruit of a century of progressive educational labor is now fully ripe, and the draught being pressed from it makes for a bitter cup indeed. Intelligent public discourse has been reduced to emotional tantrums, ad hominem fallacies, and slander. If only the members of the Constitutional Convention could see us now.
While it may be frustrating even to turn on the evening news these days because of the apparent madness, there are reasons for Christians to be hopeful yet. To start with, what Goodwin says about the way the world is bringing up its children is absolutely not true about—and, in fact, is the opposite of what could be said about—Christian children who are receiving a solid classical education. These children are becoming skilled at intellectual discourse; they believe in the One True God; and they are informed by the history of the world in general and the history of the Christian faith in particular.
There is a huge movement in the world to ensure that Christian children have an education unsurpassed by their counterparts. Thousands have graduated with this education in the past two decades and, God willing, tens or even hundreds of thousands more will graduate over the next two decades. It will take some time, but this is the movement that will reclaim a legitimate seat at the table of public discourse for Christians. This is the movement that will reestablish Christian thought and work as the standard in every facet of human culture.
Christian people are messengers, not only of Gospel truth that has the power to save, but also of Gospel goodness and beauty that has the power to transform the world for the Kingdom. We must be taken seriously—the future depends on it. But David Goodwin is right: the way the world is bringing up and educating its children is broken and sinful. As God’s people, we cannot educate our children that way; to do so is to abandon the hope of how Gospel truth, goodness, and beauty could transform this fallen world.
If we will heed the call to give our children a true education and not just the same progressive indoctrination so many children are getting, then in time Christians will once again lead in public discourse and in every other corner as well. Christians will again be the wisest people in the room, and our rhetoric will be winsome and persuasive because it will be humble and loving, bathed in Gospel truth, goodness, and beauty.