FHC HOME     Return to Pamphlet List


ltiple meanings of the word "classical" in use, and we want to be clear about what we are teaching. We want to deal with the foundations and practices of educational philosophies, not the names. There may be Christians promoting something called "classical" which does not fit our definitions or warnings. Next, we will place the debate between Biblical and classical education in historical perspective. Finally, we will use a discussion of how a "classical" curriculum is NOT a Biblical one to clarify the meaning of Biblical education.







Biblical Education

What is it?




Families Honoring Christ

"But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart
and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

Earl & Diane Rodd
6044 Pine Creek St. N.W. North Canton, OH 44720

Phone: (330) 305-9318

1st edition - June 1998

2nd edition - March 1999

Permission is granted to copy this article for personal sharing
but not for sale or other commercial purposes.



FHC is an Ohio based ministry providing information, encouragement
and fellowship to Christian families, natural and spiritual.




Unless otherwise noted, All Scripture quotations are from the

New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1988,

The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.



Additional copies of this booklet may be ordered from FHC by writing to the above address. The price is on the back cover of this booklet. Please add $1.50 for shipping regardless of the number of copies. A full listing of other books and booklets on related topics is also available from FHC at the above address.

Biblical Education

What is it?

Introduction

... looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11 :10

One great joy in the contemporary Christian home education movement has been and continues to be the delight of breaking free of ungodly methods and ungodly materials traditionally used in educating children in our day and replacing them with Biblical methods and materials. Much work has been done and much more remains to be done. This ongoing search and discovery as the Holy Spirit illuminates the Gospel is truly exciting.

Even though we have learned many methods which have produced sound results in Christian discipleship and academic learning, we continually press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3 :14). In this seeking, we must be cautious that we do not step into the broad ways of the world and leave our first love, Jesus and the narrow path of His Kingdom. We believe that it is useful for Christian home educating parents to have some understanding of major philosophies of education in order to have God's wisdom in making specific curriculum choices consistent with fundamental Christian beliefs.

Our philosophy of education is very important because it drives our day to day decisions. What we believe does matter! What we believe determines what we read and study. What we read and study determines how we live. This is why many Christian writers (ourselves included) seek for truth in what we believe God says about education and training children.

In this booklet, we are focusing on the basics of education which apply to all Christian families. Each of us has a particular call. Some may be called to evangelize abortion clinics or bars, and some may be called to be scholars which may include the study of pagans and anti-Christian literature, but this is a particular call, not something we include in basic education. Daniel survived his forced immersion in Babylonian culture and literature by fasting from its deceptive food and spending his free time immersed in prayer and meditation in the Hebrew Scriptures he had with him. Daniel and his three friends never compromised or capitulated to the Babylonian culture, and four kings acknowledged the Hebrew God as the One True God. We also remind ourselves that when we read of men and women in history, such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, or John Wesley, we must remember that they were men with a particular call on their lives - men particularly gifted by God for that call in their generation. When we look to them as examples, we need to focus on their life hidden in Christ and not their accomplishments in the natural. God did not make everyone to be an intellectual giant. In I Corinthians 12 :12-31, the Bible makes it very clear that every believer is equally important in the Body of Christ. Are we aware of other men of God whose obedience to the call of God also has impacted history, such as Menno Simmons, Christopher Dock, Count Zinzendorf, David Zeisburger, Peter Cartwright, William Carey William Booth, or Cameron Townsend? We do well to perform the work God calls us to and not carry the destructive burden of comparing ourselves with the call of another.

The Lure of the World

The modern Christian home education movement has focused very heavily on finding God's methods for every aspect of family life and education. As home education has grown more common, a number of spiritual forces have been arrayed against us. The spirit of the world is trying to get its hooks in us.

One aspect of the pressure of "academia" is the move to introduce the "classics" or to use a "classical" curriculum. In this booklet, we examine this movement. First we must define our terms because there are multiple uses of the word "classical" in use, and we want to be clear about what we are teaching. Our desire is to equip Christian families in their search for God's plan while provoking them to compare traditions to Biblical truth. We are concerned with the foundations and practice of educational philosophies, not their names. Thus, in this case, there may be Christians promoting something called "classical" which does not fit our definitions and thus our concerns.

The Lure of History

One of the great lures of "classical" education is that many great men and women in history had so-called "classical" educations. We must be very careful to attribute their Christian character to their Biblical training in righteousness and the sovereign intervention of God, not to their classical education. Can we believe that great men and women in history acted on Christian principle in spite of their classical education, not because of it? Can we examine the question, "Was their classical education the weakness which sowed seeds that blossomed and produced a harvest of tares?" Can we seek to know God better than our forebears and press on towards the mark set before us rather than be content to repeat the errors of the past?

Philippians 3:13
13. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

Definitions

The term "Biblical Education" can have different meanings. Definitions in use include:

  1. Education starting with the Bible as the first textbook for educational methods, training in righteousness, and principles by which subject matter beyond the Bible can be approached. Biblical education means searching the Bible for clues to understanding subject matter apparently not covered in the Bible (e.g. engineering - the proportions of Noah's ark which produce a stable craft). It includes seeking out and creating textbooks, other material, and activities which are consistent with this approach. Note: This is the FHC definition of Biblical Education.
  2. Education which includes the regular study of the Bible as a subject in the curriculum and the choice of explicitly Christian textbooks, other materials, and activities.
  3. Education which includes the Bible as a subject and the use of materials from Christian publishers without particular regard to the content or philosophy of those materials.

The term, "classical education", or the "classics" also has multiple definitions in common usage such as:

  1. The explicit emphasis on the educational methods and writers from Greece and Rome. It includes study of the mythology of the Greeks and Romans, the history of the Greeks and Romans, and philosophies of the Greeks and Romans, and the lecture method with no opportunity for questions or dialogue.
  2. The recognition of the importance of Latin/Greek and Roman/Greek writing and culture but with emphasis on other classics in literature, art, and music. This may include an emphasis on instruction in Greek logic.
  3. An emphasis on the educational methods and content used by leading men in the American founding era. Their education emphasized Greek and Roman learning with a mixture of Christianity.

    Such a classical education can take many subtle forms, becoming similar to definitions 1 and 2.

    In this booklet, when we discuss, classical education, we are referring to these first three definitions, not 4 and 5 which follow.

  4. An emphasis on older educational methods and materials such as Pilgrim's Progress, McGuffey's readers, Ray's Arithmetics, Spencerian penmanship or methods from the 1930's-1950's etc.
  5. An equating of the term "classical" with the term "basics" meaning an emphasis on basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. This definition in itself does not really define a complete philosophy; however, we include it here because some people use the word classical in this way.
Note on scholarship : Some Christians may be called of God as scholars to study certain anti-Christian material, whether it be Socrates or Marx, or Freud for the purpose of educating and warning the Church on how these philosophies are tempting us to be distracted from the Lord. This is a specific call and should not be confused with a discussion about educational philosophy as applied to Christian home educators in general.

Colossians 2:8
8. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Paul warned us of the philosophy of his generation which was Greek and Roman. That philosophical satanic stronghold maintains its deceptive influence in our generation; therefore, Paul's admonition needs to be further expanded to see how it applies to the western culture of the 21st century.

Biblical Education

We begin by describing the philosophy of a Biblical education. A Biblical education uses the Bible as its first source for knowledge and wisdom for both subject matter and educational methods. Clearly, the Bible does not contain information on details of some subjects such as English grammar or algebra. However, we seek to find Biblical wisdom first before going elsewhere. For example, the Bible should be a Christian's first history book and first literature book. A good translation of the Bible should be a Christian's first example of vocabulary, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation. In some subject areas, these foundations totally dominate all that we learn. Other Biblical subjects include theory of government (family, church, state), knowing God (the law of love), the nature of family life (servanthood), and our relationship to the material world (stewardship of time, money and material goods). In other subject areas, the Bible provides our primary principles, such as in the sciences where the reality of God as Creator (science) and accuracy of Genesis (history) undergird all further study. In some cases, Biblical truth precludes further study. For example, the clear Biblical exhortations to avoid idols and idolatry preclude the Christian from learning how to practice witchcraft or learning the practices of idol worship. To be wise in avoiding idolatry, we should include a study of the origins: e.g. "Where did the entertainment media of art, theatre, or fictional literature originate?" "Where did the physicians of the Pharaohs get their medical knowledge?"

Jesus prayed that we would be "in the world, not of it" (John 17 :14). We are called to be separate from the world around us even while we live in and witness to it.

II Corinthians 6:17
17. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord.

Coming out means coming all the way out as we learn in Numbers,

Numbers 33:55
55. 'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live.

The education of our children is an intensely spiritual activity and surely a part of life in which we desire to be separate from the world. As Christian home educators, we work to train our children in the "way they should go", that is, obedient followers of the Living Christ. Is it possible to be separate and include myths about pagan idols as a critical part of our curriculum? NO! Identifying the pagan idols (demons) from days gone by and recognizing them in our present culture and lives is a major challenge today. Because so many of us parents are either from non-Christian backgrounds, or have been "of the world" in most of our day to day lives, we need God's revelation to open our blind eyes to see the truth of Jesus who can set us free. We may readily recognize the idols of Rome and Greece, but in our generation, we have a pantheon of idols which cry out for our devotion and worship - movie idols, sports idols, music idols, lady luck... The Bible puts it this way,

Leviticus 20:23
23. 'Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.

One aspect of Biblical education is the search for Biblical methods. We have had the joy of discovering Biblical educational methods, using them in our family, enjoying their fruit, and sharing them with others.

Our booklets have much more to say about Biblical Education and Biblical methods. Examples of Biblical methods (some of which are presented in detail in other FHC booklets) include:

Further study is available in FHC materials and other sources including:

Classical Education

There are two basic principles in the modern push within home education for classical education which we believe are in error. These then lead to practices which are symptoms of the problem. These erroneous principles are:

1. Many who propose a classical education seek to be educated like the American founders were educated. It is true that most American founders received a classical education, were trained in Greek and Latin and studied Greek and Roman writers and philosophers as well as a variety of other writers and philosophers, Christian and non-Christian.

We believe that the classical education of the founders was their weakness , not their strength. While many were men of strong Christian character and practice, their classical education caused them to use a mixture of the philosophies of men and the Bible as their starting point in designing our system of government. This mixture is responsible for many of the problems we see in our generation. When institutional education finally replaced parental discipleship in the 1800s, the dominant education was classical, not Biblical. The academic institutions continued teaching the classical while the Biblical, which previously had roots in some homes, fell by the wayside. As a result, the nation lost the essential ingredient necessary for our form of government: people with Godly wisdom, knowledge, integrity, and obedience to the person of the Holy Spirit to impart the power to govern themselves.

2. One neo-classicist (a modern classicist) defined classical literature as those works which have received continued acclaim through the ages, like a canon of essential reading. The assumption was made that literature (fiction, plays, non-fiction), art, and philosophies which survive the ages meet the Biblical exhortation to dwell on things which are "true, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise." We dispute the assumption that "culture" which receives continued acclaim meets these qualifications. Sinful men often continue to acclaim what feeds the lusts of the flesh and allows them to continue to close their hearts and minds to the claims of Christ. If we consider what receives continued acclaim in our century, it becomes obvious that sinful men persistently give acclaim to what is far from Biblically pure and lovely.

This assumption leads to such errors such as accepting pornography as legitimate art because it has received acclaim through the years (e.g. the paintings of Renoir and others). In literature, we see the example of writings such as Thornton Wilder, whose play Our Town is based on necromancy.

We must be willing to see that the BEST is not always that which gains the ACCEPTANCE and approval of men!! We can witness this phenomena by looking around us and seeing the excellent thinking, writing, and music which is NOT the most widely accepted!

One common practice in classical education tends to lead the student further from God. In a classical education, Latin is emphasized. When Latin is emphasized, students are encouraged in the reading of writings by pagans which celebrated the works of men (emperor worship) and doctrines of demons (mythology, philosophy) rather than the Creator and His works. We tend to forget the Jews were in every nation to reveal God as Creator, and they were repeatedly warned by God to refuse the customs of the nations around them. (Lev 20 :23).

We believe English speakers can gain from a study of Latin grammar and do well to posses a working knowledge of Latin and Greek root words that form thousands of English words. Even though we believe this kind of study accelerates skill in reading and writing English, we do not believe it is necessary or wise to study the Latin literature of the Roman writers.

We have discussed the place of the scholar as a specific Christian call. A Christian academic will delve into this area specifically to expose it, but to make it the foundation for everyone is to spread its influence rather than to destroy it.

If an ancient language is to be studied, we believe it should be Hebrew and/or Greek and then first of all for the purpose of reading the Bible in the original languages. Even the study of the early church fathers in Greek and Latin is not equal to the Bible. The danger is elevating the writings of one man, however helpful those writings may be, to equality with the Bible. The Bible warns us,

I Corinthians 3:4
3. For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men?

Some proponents of a classical education then add French as a modern language to study. This is consistent with the education of the American founders. The American fascination with all things French was part of the falling away from our nation's Christian Biblical roots planted by the Pilgrims. In our generation, French seems an odd choice unless one lives close to Quebec. In modern America, Spanish seems more logical for practical reasons although many families will want to pursue other languages in order to follow the call of God on their lives. For example, in some families, many members of an extended family speak a language other than English as a first or second language in which fluency in this language should be a priority. Sadly, we have seen one mother who speaks fluent German vainly trying to teach her daughter French while forsaking German which is spoken by her extended family! A way to honor grandparents is to learn to speak and write a foreign language spoken by them.

Those proposing classical education generally include a great deal of fiction, predominantly, old non-Christian fiction. We believe that reading fiction is often confused with education. Fiction is generally written to entertain and indoctrinate. While reading fiction may help develop reading skill and vocabulary, it is NOT the same as reading what is true. In the end, fiction DID NOT HAPPEN. Some people relax and rest while reading fiction just like some relax and rest while watching a ball game or watching a video. We believe it is an error to claim that reading large amounts of fiction is an essential part of a Biblical education. Greek plays need to be viewed as the father of fiction (novels) and fiction needs to be viewed as the mother of movies and TV. Education may be entertaining but entertainment is not education.

While a classical education can sound appealing because of its historical roots, we believe that it always leaves us short of God's BEST. As an example, we noted the following in an overall scope and sequence of history instruction. The reading materials are supplied by a Christian publisher, but is one who believes in classical education. The sequence goes:

Note that the sequence skips from "Greece and Rome" to "The Middle Ages". New Testament times and the early church era are not given as an explicit topic when learning the history of mankind! This is from a publisher who claims to believe in teaching the Bible. We believe that this significant oversight comes from the initial compromise to accept traditional classical education with its heavy focus on Greece and Rome instead of pressing in to search out something better - searching out and finding God's people in all times and in all places.

In conclusion, note Peter's warning,

II Peter 2:20
20. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
21. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
22. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A dog returns to its own vomit," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."

History

Throughout the history of the Church, there have been major points of contention concerning Christian education. While we believe that we must seek the Holy Spirit for His Word for our generation, we can learn much by examining what has gone before us. Our motive is to focus our attention towards Biblical education. Throughout the ages, the temptation first for the Jews and then for Christians has been to go to the pagan, secular world for education. Yielding to this temptation has always had the same result - the inability to transfer Biblical truth from one generation to the next so powerfully that the love of the Father continually defeats the love of the world and each generation becomes more radical for Jesus than the last.

We can cite two particularly significant conflicts in the philosophy of Christian education throughout the centuries. These conflicts occur repeatedly.

2i.
1. Man-Centered (Humanism) versus God-Centered

This is the conflict of the philosophy of humanism which teaches that a child left to his/her natural inclinations will cultivate and develop their innate goodness (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) versus the Biblical doctrine of original sin and the necessity of parents to preach, teach and live the gospel 24 hours a day. The need of Christ's personal intervention and redemption must always be foremost in training children. Rousseau heavily influenced those who disliked the doctrine of original sin.
2. Classical versus Biblical

This is a conflict over the role of "classical" learning. We have read that in the 3rd century, the church would not baptize teachers because of the teaching of Roman/Greek idolatry (remember Greek mythology = study of idols). By the 4th century, the church taught the same classical learning in church schools. We have seen a similar cycle in the last 30 years in Christian schools and the home education movement. Most Christians are aware of the Christian roots of Harvard and Yale in the USA and how they have fallen away from their purpose as training grounds for men of God. Recall that Harvard and Yale taught a classical curriculum. Might this have contributed to their falling away from the faith? The same pattern is happening in every generation. Many colleges began specifically as training centers for missionaries or as centers for Christian discipleship. Over time, the desire for academic "respectability" becomes more important than the original call and the downward spiral to be conformed to the world begins.

We believe that while most Christian home educators have worked tirelessly to be God-centered rather than man-centered (humanistic) in our thinking and methods, the lure of the "classics" may once again be the snare of the devil which draws us back into the ways of the world.

We ask again the question, "Must the Hebrews return to Egypt to educate their children?"
Note: For a readable overview of the history of Christian education, we recommend the book, Christian Education: Its History and Philosophy by Kenneth Gangel and Warren Benson (Moody Press). This book was not written from a home education point of view but does provide a good overview of the history of Christian education.

Science and Law

As we seek to establish a Biblical education in science and law, we see that both are under attack from twin forces: the man-centered views of the Greeks and the evolutionary lie of recent times.

The Greeks believed that man's reason was supreme and thus approached science as something to reason in themselves. They did not seek to discover the natural laws of the Creator because they did not subject themselves to Him. This approach led to the well known follies such as Aristotle's long held view that heavier objects fall faster. In recent generations, Biblical science has been attacked by the lie of evolution. Many Christians have identified and taught on the difference between a Biblical science education and an evolutionary, anti-God science education.

Much less has been written about the important subject of law. We are all affected by the law and like to complain about lawyers and politicians who make the laws; however, have we taken the time to teach ourselves so that we can provide a Biblical education in law to our children? Biblical education in the law begins with the simple premise that God's law is supreme and that man discovers God's law. Man does not make the law. This Biblical truth is under attack first from the Greek notion that man and the state (a creation of man) is supreme and is the highest authority. In recent generations, the Biblical truth about law has been attacked by evolutionary thinking which teaches that law "evolves" over time and must change to meet changing times. The educational method which goes hand in hand with evolutionary law is "case law." However, God does not change. For a thorough Biblical study of law, we recommend the book, God, Man and Law by Dr. Herb Titus published by The Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts. Dr. Titus has also prepared a seminar called "Family to Family Forum" which provides a Biblical education in law.

One example in American history of the interplay of these tensions is the law of property. American's founders made a major break with heritage and classical education by establishing an allodial (free of rent to the lord) property system to replace the fuedal property system. Both Blackstone and Locke, men whose legal thinking significantly shaped that of the American founders, rejected the Greek and Roman ideas of property. They did so by appealing to the Bible as their authority. Dr. Herb Titus, in his Family to Family Forum book, Dominion explains:

God's dominion mandate gave, Blackstone claimed, "the only true and solid foundation of man's dominion over external things, whatever airy metaphysical notion may have been stated by fanciful writers upon the subject."

The "airy metaphysical writers" to whom Blackstone referred were the Greek and Roman scholars who had attempted to construct an ideal world in which man lived in natural harmony with nature with no need of work or dominion." Page 27.

American legal scholars went further than Blackstone and Locke (who made statements similar to Blackstone's quoted above) by insisting that private property was God's original plan . Blackstone and Locke were still sufficiently tied to their classical educations by believing that there had been some prior time when all property was held in common.

As evolutionary law has been established, the first foundation attacked (after the Biblical basis of law itself) is the family. As society has "evolved", the family has been redefined in humanistic, not Biblical terms. With the destruction of the Biblical basis of the family have come legal attacks on private property including steep inheritance taxes, radical environmentalism (based on the evolutionary view that man does NOT have dominion over any part of nature), and the income tax.

Biblical education in law is critical if we are to be wise in our personal political decisions and family decisions (wills, inheritances, property use etc.). Without a Biblical education, we are left to treat each issue from a humanistic point of view answering only the question: "With my own reasoning, what choice produces the most good for the most people?" With a Biblical education, we can ask the question, "What is right and pleasing to God?"

Entertainment and the Arts

We have written other booklets discussing entertainment. In this booklet, we directly address the issue of entertainment in a "higher form", namely the classics and fine arts. The first inspiration to think carefully about art came from 6 year old Joshua who came across a picture of the sculpture, "David", in an encyclopedia and asked, "Was Michaelangelo the first pornographer?" From being led by a little child, we repented, we studied and finally began to write.

Both Australia and the USA are currently suffering from declining literacy rates and a general "dumbing" down of curriculum. Christian parents, schools and publishers are sensitive to these trends and are attempting to provide education for children which offers a higher level of intellectual development. This desire leads to the temptation to turn to old (e.g. classical) material because of its high level of scholarship.

The use of classical learning in the Church (i.e. among Christians) has been debated since the first century. During most of Church history, there have been Christians who thought it was mandatory to teach classics such as Aristotle, Ptolemy and Caesar. Also, during most of Church history, there have been Christians who have objected to training Christian children in pagan ways. In our generation, we have two options. One is to once again go around the cycle of starting with a revival of Christian education (the modern Christian school movement and home education) and then to corrupt it with pagan humanistic methods and material. The other choice is to break the cycle and give our children the opportunity to rise to a level of faith and closeness to God which we have not known.

We must avoid the temptation to assume that because art, music, or literature is old, a classic or traditionally a part of "high society" or "culture", it is good by God's standards! We must judge materials using the standards with which God has gifted us in His Word!

In some cases, "classics" may not be morally objectionable in their own right, but we must recognize that our children can read only so many books and study so many subjects during their learning years with us. Every minute we have them putting effort into something "good" detracts from the effort needed to seek the "best." We have a moral injunction from God not only to dwell on what is excellent, but to learn His way.

Proverbs 4:5
5. Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

His methods of education are stated in Joshua 1 :8. Note that mouth and meditation are two different methods.

Joshua 1:8
8. "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

To waste our children's growing minds on anything less than pure truth and knowledge is a tragedy.

Purity is More than Skin Deep

Critical in understanding what we are trying to say is the recognition that God has made us as integrated beings in whom spirit, body, and soul (mind) are to act as one. Purity is therefore more than a spiritual ideal. It is an academic and intellectual pursuit as well. This is most clearly illustrated in Solomon's exhortation to,

Proverbs 4:23
23. Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

You may be asking "What does this have to do with knowledge?" The answer lies in the semantics of Proverbs. Throughout Proverbs, "heart" implies cognitive faculties, not solely emotional ones. This means that we are exhorted to watch over our minds - our brains - with all diligence, for if garbage goes in the mind, the intellectual and spiritual life are corrupted.

Solomon's exhortation, understood in this light is quite salient to this discussion. We must carefully monitor what goes into our minds, for the sake of both our spiritual and intellectual well-being and enhance our ability to respond and act Biblically when different situations arise. A mind filled with the fiction and perversion of a bygone era will in no way be prepared to face the technological or social challenges of the 21st century, rise to meet them, or take dominion over them. Those who are so educated will be lost in the romanticism of the 1800s, and the place of cultural leadership may be taken by others.

Problems and the Solution

There is much in the classics that is wrong. First we will discuss some specific examples to give the reader an idea of things to discuss when evaluating material. Second we will present a little-used, but important Biblical basis.

Examples of difficulties in the arts :

At this point, we must stand back and caution that many old things are good! The principle we need to foster is discernment. We must be discerning with old literature and music just as we are with modern works. For example, the works of Luther, Arminius, Calvin, or Finney will provide a very high standard of scholarship and at the same time valuable instruction in the things of God as well as a correct historical perspective.

The Bible provides us with a basis on which to evaluate many issues relating to the "classics." First with regard to writings and studying pagan religions, the Holy Spirit gives us instructions about not even naming pagan gods.

Exodus 23:13
13. "Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let {them} be heard from your mouth.

Joshua 23:7
7. in order that you may not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make {anyone} swear {by them,} or serve them, or bow down to them.

God wants us to be free of their influences and concentrate on Him. Our God is a jealous God who wants our undivided worship and fellowship! In the New Testament we read:

James 4:5
5. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"?

Furthermore, we have the testimony of David in obeying these commands,

Psalms 16:3
3. As for the saints who are in the earth, They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
4. The sorrows of those who have bartered for another {god} will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their libations of blood, Nor shall I take their names upon my lips.

David further testifies in the 101st Psalm,

Psalms 101:3
3. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.

When we review the New Testament, we can see that Jesus and Paul abided by this command. We find no reference of Jesus mentioning the name of a false god. He Himself did not go the Greeks (John 12 :20-37), but left them for Paul's steps of faith and obedience up Mars Hill. When Paul was finally there, he preached Jesus crucified and risen after a brief mention of an "unknown god." He never mentioned the names of the pagan deities. Instead, he exalted the Creator and Redeemer.

If we meditate on these Scriptures, we will guard ourselves from detailed studies of pagan deities as is found in studies of Greek or Roman mythology! Diane had a very "classical" education in the high school of her small Ohio hometown. The public education of many rural American schools in the 1950's-1960's was classical (i.e. Latin writers, Shakespeare). These schools were considered to be "backwards and behind" the larger city schools who dropped the "classical" and added modern languages and read modern fiction (Earl, in the early 60's, was subjected to "literature" with strong overtones of perversion and homosexuality). Neither curriculum pleased God nor produced good fruit. It is grievous to see so many home educators following the trend of the rural public school of the 60's because of lack of knowledge and a subtle tendency or willingness to compromise. It is just as grievous to watch home educators fill the minds of their children with modern romantic "historical" novels that claim to be "Christian".

With regard to art, our starting point must be the second commandment in Exodus 20 or in Deuteronomy 5 :8.

Deuteronomy 5:7
7. 'You shall have no other gods before Me.
8. 'You shall not make for yourself an idol, {or} any likeness {of} what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
9. 'You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth {generations} of those who hate Me,
10. but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
11. 'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

There is no indication that the New Covenant "fulfilled" or altered this basic command to avoid idolatry. In fact, the New Testament has many warnings to avoid idols and idolatry, such as,

I Corinthians 10:7
7. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play."
8. Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.
9. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.
10. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
11. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction , upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Note that in verse 7 we have a direct connection between idolatry and entertainment! Also consider I Corinthians 10 :12-14. In this booklet, we will not go into a full discussion of the second commandment, but ask that each of you meditate upon it and apply it to your selection of material, especially art. We believe that it is important to start our thinking with an attitude of thanksgiving to God that He has provided us a way of escape from the snares of the world, not that He is trying to restrict our "fun" or "enjoyment of art." We make the following observations about "art."

An example of these problems surfaced in a recent issue of the The Teaching Home in a side bar discussing going to an art museum. The author made a valid point to beware of what was in the museum, but failed to deal with the question of why we want to go there at all! We have never taken our children to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Earl happened into the museum one day when a customer suggested a noon day walk across the park to the museum. The problem is not that there is an isolated piece of art not appropriate for young children. The problem is that there are many examples of life-size center folds in paintings and marble. Is this the worst moral threat we face? We doubt it. Still, we must ask, "Why do we actually expend effort and money to go to such a museum or study such nonsense?"

There seems to be great spiritual blindness in this area of visual art. We have dealt with an evangelical Christian college which seeks to have a Christ-centered campus. However, in the required course in fine-arts, the text book has a number of examples of "art" (pornography) from other eras. While these paintings were thankfully not the focus of the course, we ask the question, "Why make every student buy that book and have it on their library shelves?" Is this good stewardship? Does this stimulate each other to love and good deeds? The course also included a requirement of a visit to an art museum. Our son was able to substitute an excursion to a local wood carver museum rather than walk through the Cleveland Art Museum.

As we have sought the Lord in our own household and considered the second commandment in our day-to-day life, we have found a great freedom and been liberated from a lot of junk! Idols just take space and are never good for anything! God destroyed idols (Canaanite, Greek Parthenon etc) and then men, through archeology, dig up the fragments, glue them back together, and put them in a museum for all to adore! Archeology that proves the Bible never exalts art. There was none. Archeology that proves the Bible discovers household objects, official records, business records or markers which demonstrate the authority of the Biblical record in genuine history.

A root problem with turning to the classics is an assumption that "culture" is somehow good. Remember that the refined "culture" of today is often the immoral entertainment of another age which was severely denounced by God fearing men and women of the day. Both Wesley and Finney experienced true revival when they preached against the evil "culture" of their day which included: romantic novels, plays (some of which are now "classics"), dances and gambling. All of these practices are counterfeits of the truth which is found in the Bible.

In summary, we believe that we should strive to raise a generation who walk in the power, wisdom, and vitality of a personal relationship with God as no other generation has. Does it make sense to train children at home so that we can make disciples of Christ and then spend time and energy training them in humanistic religion (e.g. current entertainment industry) and pagan deities and idolatry (entertainment industry of the past)? We have the wise counsel of Paul in building our home education,

I Corinthians 10:23
23. All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

Academia (Intellectual Pride?)

We continue to see the lure of academic respectability and conformity (fear of man) taking precedence over the search for God's will and plan for education (fear of God). This is most problematic at the college level. The worst example to date is reported in World magazine in the May 17/24, 1997 issue. An article entitled, "Class Dismissed" reports the story of a student at Bethel College and her family's struggle to deal with vulgar language in the classroom and the use of pornography in her classes. The college's defense claimed a professor "did not use the language as swearing, but was, nevertheless using the offensive words gratuitously." This is academic double-talk. The college defended the pornography by citing non-Christian movie critics.

We would not have believed this article were it not for our own experience in dealing with a Christian college. While our experience contains nothing even close to the flaunting of sin as reported at Bethel, we have heard similar defenses of anti-Christian instruction. Our son, Joel wrote an editorial in his college newspaper challenging instruction which had, for example, a very heavy emphasis on Sigmund Freud even while acknowledging him as an errant, sinful man. Joel's question was, "Why do we learn his theories at face value?" (A copy of this editorial can be obtained by writing us).

Philosophy is usually taught by teaching the pagan Greek philosophers at face value. More modern philosophers are seen in an evolutionary light as growing in wisdom from the ancients. We must recall that the theory of evolution, that man is always improving, is NOT Biblical. Only the light of the Gospel brings truth. Building on error does not lead to truth.

For example, Aristotle is generally taught as a great thinker. He was, however, wrong about nearly everything. Not only were his facts wrong (compared to what God says), but so were his methods. Aristotle taught that women were a lower form of life than men, somewhere between men and slaves (property). This is in sharp contrast to the Biblical statement that all, men and women, are one in Christ. In the sciences, Aristotle was wrong about nearly everything he said. His method of discovering truth about the physical world was to reason with his mind, never to actually examine the world (i.e. experiment). At the time of Isaac Newton, Aristotle's conclusions and methods were still taught in all the "mainstream" Christian educational institutions of the west (Europe). To suggest that we experiment to see if Aristotle was correct was heresy. Thus Aristotle was taught as equal to Scripture. We find no reason to study Aristotle at all except briefly as an example of how pagan roots lead to total deception and error. He is 0% necessary to an understanding of the Bible and God's creation and work in history!

We can all fall into the trap of respecting learning and scholarship more than God's Truth. We draw two key lessons out of this subject:

  1. Christian colleges (like Christian schools) and much Christian curriculum often mirror the anti-Christian academic world in their subject matter content. Christian colleges have many excellent Christian faculty members, and we encourage students to seek them out and relate to them as adults. The problem is that academic respectability and the inertia of teaching what one was taught in school is such a strong motivation that colleges seem fearful of seeking a distinctly Biblical approach to the course of study.

    Some subject areas may have some breaks with the anti-Christian culture. The teaching of creation versus evolution is available at some Christian colleges, certainly not all or even most. Some subject areas, such as social work or education contain virtually no differences in content and philosophy from their non-Christian peers. Others, such as psychology, have some Christian commentary, but retain the same structure and readings as their non-Christian counter parts.

  2. As home educators, we have the opportunity to seek God how to design our curriculum to train children prepared to follow the call of God in the modern world. We can throw out the traditional high school curriculum with its perverse literature (e.g. Poe, Hemmingway, Joyce from the 60's, we are thankfully not familiar with what younger parents might have been subjected to), evolutionary science, revisionist history, and socialistic government and replace it with reading of men and women of faith, true science starting with the Creator, "His"-story, and God's plan for self-government and self discipline.

Colleges seem to be under immense pressure to maintain academic respectability. While some pressure may come from accreditation groups, perhaps the greatest pressure is the internal inertia of the faculty to teach unquestionably what they were taught. Even when the traditional material is questioned, the opportunity to create a Biblical education is lost. Thus, humanistic academia becomes self-perpetuating unless some are prepared to be truly "radical" Christians. Will home educators stand firm in these colleges and choose Biblical alternatives if and when a "college" degree is necessary?

American History

As Americans, we believe we need to consider how we view our nation's history and learn from the courageous righteousness as well as the errors of those who have gone before us in building our national heritage. A danger for all Christian home educators is to make history the study of man (humanism) rather than the study of God. Can we look at men in history and see them as God sees them: men made in His image, some of whom were pressing on towards the mark, yet not having achieved perfection? For much more on our research in the area of education, see the FHC booklet, Compulsory Education - Its History and Effects and Knowing God - The Goal of Education .

Our nation was founded by many man of great character, courage, and foresight. Many sought God for wisdom in how to form a government free of the sins of England and other European nations. However, their intellectual diet was weak in their training in the classics: Greek and Roman authors and immersion in Greek and Roman philosophies and forms of thinking. Even those whose education was primarily home education did not receive truly Biblical educations.

In our opinion, this compromise in the education of our forefathers caused the planting of bad seed which has grown over the decades into much of the evil fruit we see today. Early Americans often had a fascination with "all things French" and especially with European, non-Christian learning (i.e. humanism - the study of and glorification of man). Can we learn from the great courage and principles of our founders while acknowledging that we can seek God to improve on their educational methods?

Seeking God's Best!

We know that we can never read all that there is to read. Solomon warned, "the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body." When we train our children, we cannot expose them to every culture and every language in the few years we have them at home. We therefore seek to read the Bible, read a few of the best of other books, study the best materials, and use our time as the Holy Spirit directs. In personal reading and in home education, we sometimes must forsake even good things in favor of the best. We want something better than a repeat of the past. We want to press on towards the high calling set before us!

John 17:14
14. "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15. "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.
16. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17. "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

A classical education will teach logic and rhetoric - and often does so by putting emphasis on the Greeks rather than the Hebrews. Even though we do believe Gentiles cannot become Jews, a "classical" education that gives more emphasis to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle or Shakespeare rather than stressing Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Job fails to understand how God views education. To understand the logic of the Sermon on the Mount by the Master Teacher, Jesus, we have to submit to the Holy Spirit as our present Teacher, as Jesus taught us to do. Human logic and reasoning is not the same as God's. God asked Isaiah to come and reason with Him (Isaiah 1 :18). To reason with God requires a change in human thinking (Isaiah 55 :8-9). Thus, Biblical education includes not only the written Word of God but also requires the person of God. His presence, and His power are necessary to be in the world, but not deceived by the world.

For example, Stephen's "martyr sermon" is far above Hamlet's soliloquy. Paul's sermon on Mars Hill is perfect persuasive rhetoric and a better speech to memorize than Shakespeare's words put into the mouth of Mark Anthony. The book of Romans is the model of logic because the Holy Spirit inspired and initiated these words in their sequence. Do we follow men and their flesh and doctrines inspired by demons or do we follow Christ and obey the Holy Spirit? The mixture we see infiltrating and contaminating home education is deadly.

The history of the church is full of examples of educational movements and institutions which began with Spirit-led vision and distinctly Christian purposes and then compromised in the use of classical curriculum and slowly lost their entire Christian orientation. Strong Christian thinkers may be able to digest classical material as scholars without compromising their faith, but history shows that classical learning soon dominates. Some modern Christian colleges began as strong Bible based training centers for missionaries and Christian workers, but as they have sought and gained academic "respectability", they have become virtual clones of non-Christian institutions in much of their teaching and practice.

In most Christian colleges today, we find that students must read Aristotle in philosophy, Freud in psychology, Dewey in education, Marx in history, and Darwin in science. They do not have systematic studies in Biblical philosophies, Biblical psychology, Biblical education, Biblical history or creation science. The Bible is relegated to a separate course, somehow independent of academia. For example, education majors do not have to read Christopher Dock who wrote the first teacher's manual on American soil. Economics majors use secular texts but classes fail to include Clarence Carson, E. Calvin Beisner, Gary North, or Dennis Peacocke. History students read the works of Marx or read about Marx and other pagans. They are saturated in the theories of Keynes. Yet Jesus' sermons are never required or even considered as the true standard for political, legal, and economic theories. Nor are the stories of men and women of faith whose prayers and actions have truly changed the history of civilization (e.g. Rees Howells or William Carey or Cameron Townsend) considered superior to the lives of Napolean, Hitler etc. These Christian men may be read, but only by those with "Theology" or "Missions" majors! What a travesty and waste of time and money. What has been acclaimed by man over the years has missed much of God's best. In spite of good intentions, this is the result of classical education. In our wicked age, we need to resist every temptation to be of the world. We need to remember, the Bible is always the best because it is the perfect, infallible standard given to us and authored by God Himself.

Our goal is to continue to cultivate a listening ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus to guide us into all truth. (I Timothy 1 :5-6). By God's grace, we shall continue to seek out Biblical educational methods and reading materials which testify to God's works in order to ground our children and ourselves in our total belief in God's Word. Yes, there is a place for scholarship, but we are convicted when Paul, a man of great learning, continually emphasizes the power of God over words of fleshly wisdom!

Philippians 3:7
7. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
8. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

We personally have received much in depth Christian instruction from a man who was a trained classical scholar in philosophy and logic who met Jesus in 1942. He has since devoted 50+ years to knowing God and sharing Biblical truth all over the world, while counting his classical, academic, pagan education as rubbish - just like Paul.

It may seem good to read writers who, even though wrong about nearly everything (e.g. Aristotle), were excellent writers. It may sound appealing to join great men in history in learning the Greek and Roman cultures, cultures which have influenced history but have not proven to be true! We ask ourselves and our readers the questions: "Will God be displeased if a generation grows up who does not know the names of the idols of Greece and Rome? Will God be displeased if a generation grows up knowing the God of the Bible while ignorant of pagan thinkers and humanism?" If these cultures of antiquity were destroyed in their idolatry, why do we want to mimic their unbelieving practices? The Roman Coliseum stands as a gruesome testimony to the battle of Christ for men's souls - a sporting event that enthusiastically killed Christians!

Proponents of classical education defend the study of mythology (which is really the study of false gods, idols, demons, and humanism) by saying that the myths are an integral part of our western literary heritage. They reason that the "great" literature uses symbols and images from the myths. When we seek a Biblical education, we seek to redeem the time spent reading so-called "great" literature and use time to study and practice the written & living Word of God. If we read the Bible as our sole authority, and are ignorant of western "tradition", would reading the Bible lead us to study idols? No! Are we driven by a desire to compromise with our culture in order to feel comfortable in our culture? Jesus was always comfortable, able to love and relate to people, but He never compromised with the Greek or religious culture of His generation. Thus, in a Biblical education, we not only redeem the time spent studying myths, but also the time spent reading fiction which requires us to think humanistically rather than divinely about false gods, idols, and demons. In the modern age, the same argument would lead us to exclude watching R-rated movies, TV programming with constant profanity and sexual impurity, and reading trash novels because the language and images of these entertainment forms are a part of contemporary literary heritage - and are likely to form the basis of the enduring heritage of our day. At the extreme, the argument of learning the myths because they are prevalent is similar to a false argument which says that one must be an adulterer in order to minister to one caught in that sin. We do not claim to have become perfect in redeeming the time; however, the cry of our heart is that we not settle into man made traditions but press on towards the fullness of what Jesus has purchased for us. We know that if we settle for the traditions of the world, we will not have the resources to pursue the kingdom of God. For example, we believe that Job is a perfect way to teach drama because it is TRUE! Every Christian home educator can study drama using Job. Furthermore, by God's grace, a true Christian disciple will develop Job as a performed play, with a study guide. It will not be one that alters or changes God's Word. Thus it will be true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, praiseworthy and those who watch it will have their minds dwelling on these things (Phi 4 :8).

In conclusion, consider the Bible itself. Jesus spoke many times using examples and parables from everyday life and the culture of His day. Yet He never mentions Aristotle, Plato, the Greek myths (stories of idols), or Greek or Roman plays. Paul, even when writing to Greeks, consistently appeals to the Old Testament Scriptures in his arguments, never mentioning Aristotle, Plato or others. Like Jesus, he never names Greek or Roman idols by name. Some of Paul's letters deal with prevailing non-Biblical philosophies, but always by emphasizing the truth, never by teaching the opposing philosophy. Can we imitate Paul as he imitates Christ? Can we receive the vision of the fullness of the New Covenant?

God called Abraham out of his pagan culture and told him to leave it all behind. God called Abraham's descendents out of Egypt and told them to leave it all behind. God called the New Covenant believers out of Babylon and told them to leave it all behind. God called the Pilgrims out of England and the Netherlands and told them to leave it all behind. God is now calling Christian home educators to come out of the place of compromise, leave it all behind and press toward the high call. Consider Jesus perspective,

Luke 9:62
62. But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

The Bible is the only place where it is safe to appropriate something from the past. The Bible is to be more than a standard; it has to become our culture, our way of life.

Philippians 3:12
12. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Copyright by Earl & Diane Rodd