Last week I set out to produce a series of articles reminding readers what classical Christian education is by describing what its goals are, why those goals should be valued, and what pursuit of those goals looks like at Trinitas Christian School. I used the metaphor of questions one might ask oneself when embarking on a journey. Last week the question I attempted to answer was where are we going? This week the question is why are we going there? My aim is to illustrate why the goals of classical Christian education are good ones for the people of God to pursue.
Why are we going there?
Last week I suggested that the primary goal of classical Christian education is the formation of virtuous human beings whose lives are submitted entirely to the lordship of Christ. What that means is that the culture of the school, the teachers, the structure of the classroom, the curricula, the lessons and exercises, the extra-curricular activities, even the campus itself, and certainly the parents have to be focused on the formation of human souls. This is both an offensive and defensive move. Classical Christian education seeks to prepare its students to live a good life for the sake of God, neighbor, and self. At the same time it prepares them to defend themselves, their families, and the church from the lies of Satan that come against us in so many ways.
Preparation for these tasks looks very different from primarily preparing students to get a good job. Again, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to assure readers that I am all for work—six days a week in fact—and am highly in favor of being compensated for work. Paul exhorts the Thessalonian church, and by extension us too, that you don’t get to eat if you don’t work (2 Thess. 3:10). (How’s that for compensation?) The nature of that work could be anything from President of the United States to homemaker—all noble pursuits. And classical Christian education most definitely prepares its students for noble work of any kind. The point is God’s people ought to think about jobs as secondary—or better yet as only one slice of the much larger pie that is a life well-lived, one that is marked by virtue, chief among those virtues being love of God and neighbor.
The very idea that Christians would hold the ideal of living a virtuous life surrendered to Christ as a more noble goal than getting a really high paying job is per se (through itself), a stance against one of the lies Satan is successfully peddling in our society. But there is far more to this conversation than jobs. Students who pursue the highest and noblest goals every day in classical Christian schools are being molded and shaped for a higher calling.
Have you ever looked around—oh, maybe especially in the last few weeks—and wondered if there is a generation coming that can fix the mess the world is in? Of course, we know Jesus is coming to fix it fix it, but we are called to take dominion in the meantime. We aren’t doing so hot on a lot of fronts. The church is compromising everywhere you turn. From Rome to Constantinople to London to Geneva to Lynchburg, Virginia, we are exchanging the power of the Gospel for cultural relevance. The government in the United States is more tenuous than it has been in 150 years, and I would argue largely because of the ignorance of its constituents about its founding and structures. There is no self-control among lawmakers who hold the nation’s purse strings, and there is little self-discipline in any category among Americans who have become what the Bible calls “lovers of pleasure.” I suggest we cannot continue to do what we have been doing and expect positive change.
If, however, we raise a generation of people who seek first the Kingdom of God, we might see a change of direction before the mess becomes unbearable. If we raise a generation of people who love God and neighbor, walk in faith even through the darkest of valleys, and do all their work in hope of the promises of God being fulfilled…well, just imagine the possibilities: Functional families where fathers love their wives as Christ loved the church and raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Imagine the impact those functional families would have on the church. Can you imagine the strength and power and therefore genuine Gospel appeal of a church that does not compromise the truth about King Jesus in exchange for favorable ratings on Google from Millennials in town? And how might that impact other institutions? What if when we went to the polls there were true statesmen running for office who debated real civic issues, people who would cast out liars and swindlers and who would work within the boundaries of the nation’s laws. What if real craftsmanship returned? What if you could hire a company to do a job and trust that the job would be done well and you wouldn’t be cheated?
It may sound as if I am promoting heaven on earth. Perhaps I am, but only almost heaven on earth. Christ will return. We will eventually see a new heaven and a new earth, and we and our kids and perhaps generations to come will be its inhabitants. What are we doing to prepare for that? We and our children have eternal souls, souls that need to practice now for eternity, souls that need to be engaged now in bringing God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, souls that should be pursuing high ideals instead of base ones. This is the business of classical Christian education, and it is good not only for the individual souls of its students, but because of the kind of lives those students will live, it is good also for the whole world. Why should we be on this path? Because achieving the goals of classical Christian education makes this world a far better place even as it prepares us for the next.