No matter where we American Christians get our news these days, it seems to forebode the end of the world as we know it. The values many of us were raised with and still cling to are at best a fading part of the American Family’s core values. During the latter third of the twentieth century, a movement was launched that we generally refer to as the “sexual revolution,” and it was predicted to undo society to put it mildly. Whether what we are witnessing now is that undoing or we are being undone by something else is difficult to discern; that we are coming undone, however, seems clear.What we want more than ever is to pass on to our children the Christian and American values we hold dear. We want them to believe the things about the world that Christian people living in America in the twenty-first century ought to believe, especially our positions on “sexual ethics, government’s role in solving problems, faith vs. science, theological questions of authority, the Bible, and sin” (37). I am happy to report that alumni from classical Christian schools are far more likely to hold positions on these issues that are conservative and traditional than are alumni from other schools or homeschools.
The past few weeks we have been examining the results of an education survey by Cardus and the University of Notre Dame. The Association of Classical Christian Schools has compiled a report on the survey titled “Good Soil.” As we continue working through the report, this week we’ll summarize another of its seven profiles: Conservative and Traditional. Just to refresh your memory, this report examines alumni between the ages of 24 and 44 who graduated from six different types of schools: public, college preparatory, Catholic, Evangelical, homeschool, and ACCS schools (like Trinitas). All of the alumni surveyed grew up in Christian homes.
Let’s start by defining our terms. The survey does not drill down on political issues, so conservative here does not necessarily align with a particular political ideology but means “holding to values and practices that would be considered socially conservative” (37). Traditional in this context means subscribing to “political, social, and orthodox Christian views,” remembering again that the survey “did not delve deeply into political views” (37).
It has been reported that about 30% of people in the same age group as those surveyed approve of socialism (38). One of the survey questions was, “Do you think the federal government should do more to solve social problems. You would expect socialist leaning respondents to respond in the affirmative. Public school, Catholic school, and prep school alumni did just that—nearly half want the government to solve our social problems. When students’ understanding of man and his purpose in the world is formed through an integrated study of man’s history through the world’s great books, however, they are more likely to have a right of understanding of where the responsibility for man’s problems lie. Such is the case with classical Christian alumni, 77% of whom responded that the federal government should not be more involved in solving the country’s social problems (38). Classical Christian students know that man’s problems start with Adam and end with Jesus; everything in between is just a sporting debate.
When it comes to where the Bible fits into the authority structure of classical Christian alumni lives, we find them again holding that conservative and traditional line. Nearly 90% of these alumni believe the Bible is their infallible guide for personal faith and behavior (40). As students, they learned every subject as an integrated whole and in the light of Scripture. Bible was not merely a class they took, but rather composed the air they breathed. For them, two-plus-two could not equal four apart from the God who created the universe and holds it together, so His Word is their final authority. In fact, fewer than 15% of them think the Bible contains any errors at all regarding subjects such as science or history—it is for them authoritative. And so much so that it guides their behavior. Going completely against the sexual revolution and resultant cultural trends, nearly 90% of classical Christian alumni hold fast to the belief that gay marriage is wrong. That is a bold stand, to be sure, but in the application of their own heterosexual leanings, 80% of these alumni believe pre-marital sex is wrong (39)! The sexual revolution is getting no traction with classical Christian alumni who have been inoculated against the foolishness of man by being saturated in the word of God.
Classical Christian alumni are by no means perfect. They are fallen humans in need of a Savior just like the rest of us. When considering the best way to pass on conservative and traditional positions on the things that matter in life, though, it is these classical Christian schools that seem to be turning out graduates that hold such positions. The numbers are in. See for yourself.
In the next post we will continue to unpack the findings of the “Good Soil” Report.
All quotes and references in this post are from “The Good Soil” Report.