About 25 years ago I attended a Christian Institute event where the title of the meeting was ‘How we can exert a Christian influence in education’. I had experience of teaching in a state secondary school and the question in my mind at the end of the meeting was this: can we exert a sufficient influence so as to prevent disobedience to the apostolic command in Ephesians 6:4?
This is a question that all Christian parents and especially Christian fathers need to wrestle with personally before God. Can the raising of my children be described as ‘training in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ when such a significant part of it takes place in the state education system?
Certainly we should pray that the influence of the home and the church will be the predominating influence. Certainly we should seek to mitigate the worst excesses of the state school influence.
I admire and salute the wonderful influence of so many Christian parents, teachers, ancillary staff, and governors without whom so many state schools would be much worse. The question, however, that kept coming to me was, ‘Is it enough?’
Certainly we believe in the power and wonderful influence of the Holy Spirit in answer to prayers for our children and grandchildren. It is he alone who gives life and converts their hearts. Nevertheless, he is the Person who inspired the apostle to write this command!
Is there a way in which we can unambiguously obey this command in terms of our children’s education? Many Christian parents are seeking to do this by educating their children at home. This is not possible for every family and there is usually the need to seek help from established schools when examinations are needed. This becomes even more acute if youngsters aspire to university training.
Can Christian schools be established which would be an immeasurable blessing to the church and the nation?
After teaching for 36 years at Westminster Theological Seminary, Prof. John Murray, at the age of 69, married one of his former students and retired with his new wife to live in the place where he was born in the far northeast of Scotland. At the age of 70 he became a father and the issue of the education of his son soon became pressing.
In an influential address on Christian Education Murray at the age of 75 said: ‘It is apparent how devastating to the best influences exerted by the home and the church will be the influence of the school if it pretends to be neutral on moral issues, or if the teaching of the school is alien to the ethical principles inculcated by home or church or both… We know only too well to what depraved human nature inclines.’ (‘Christian Education’ – Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 1, p.367, Banner of Truth)
These were not just words of an impractical idealist. He worked tirelessly with a group of like-minded believers, and the result was the establishment of a small Christian primary school in Dornoch.
If a retired 75-year-old man with a young family can establish a Christian school in one of the remotest parts of Scotland, surely it is not beyond the ability of the current generation of evangelicals to establish Christian schools which will be an unmeasurable blessing to the communities they serve! Such Christian schools may well be the means which God the Holy Spirit may bless for the revival of Reformed Christianity in the United Kingdom.
Andrew Rowell is Pastor of Grace Evangelical Church, Carlisle, and a director and online editor of ET.