In 1977 I wrote a paper entitled the “Millennial View of Education.” The assignment was given in a class called “Christian Schools.” Until the Supreme Court outlawed prayer in the public schools (1962), very few Christians saw the need for Christian education. But when God was asked to not be a part of our education system, Bible-based instruction began to blossom. In our class we studied the history, philosophy, and practice of Christian education and even had the opportunity to visit local Christian schools. Many parents wanted to get back to the good ol’ days when we began each day with a Scripture reading, perhaps a psalm, a brief prayer or the Lord’s Prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. I am old enough to remember those days—I was 10 when this practice ceased.
My paper was not a backward look, but rather an attempt to articulate a vision or the ideal form of education. Instead of wanting to get back to the familiar, I was desirous of God’s idea of education. I theorized that if there were a millennium in the future, who would do the teaching, what would the curriculum look like, and where would the teaching take place? I didn’t want to assume what it would be, instead I wanted to know what God thought, and headed for the concordance.
This is before personal computers, and I reached for my trusty hard-backed Young’s Concordance and began to look up every verse related to education I could think of. Teach, teaching, teacher, instruct, instruction, etc. After compiling these scriptures I penned the paper and came to the conclusion that parents were to be the primary educators of their children, and the curriculum was to be based on the word of God. Deuteronomy and Proverbs had the most verses pertaining to the topic.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
I noticed that the responsibility was placed jointly on parents. In our culture it seems that religious education falls heavily upon the mother, but Scripture has a different message.
Proverbs 6:20 My son, observe the commandment of your father, And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
I also observed some verses that encouraged fathers specifically.
Deuteronomy 32:7 Remember the days of old, Consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you.
The responsibility fell upon parents to teach the truth as revealed in the word of God to their children. But how do we “teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way”? I believe we do this intentionally and in the everyday context of living. The message is delivered in our talk and our walk.
The morning after Noah Webster committed his life to Christ he called his family together and asked their forgiveness for not fulfilling his responsibility as a parent, and from that day to the end of his life he taught his family the word of God.
In our heart of hearts we recognize the call of God to parents to instruct their children. Sunday school and youth groups may supplement the home, but it is our privilege and opportunity to teach and train our children to live forever.
In our family it took years before regular family worship times became a part of our daily life. Not growing up in a home where this was practiced I had not seen a family altar. But with God’s help and my wife’s encouragement, it became the high point of the day. We used to define a successful day as one where we studied God’s word together, did our language arts, and our math homework. Anything beyond this was considered gravy!
Our practice was to begin with prayer and invite Jesus to fulfill the word and be where two or three were gathered together. With God’s spirit present, we then read a chapter of Scripture aloud, taking turns reading 2-3 verses a piece. Time permitting, we would discuss what we had read, and sing a hymn. Then we committed what we had discussed in prayer.
The most effective teacher this world has ever seen is Jesus. What made his message so compelling was that his walk matched his talk. His life was absolutely consistent with his message.
Acts 1:1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach.
Jesus is the Word, made flesh. As the divine incarnation, He is the only inspired illustration.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Even though God is working in my life and I am being transformed into his image, I am not the Word made flesh. I have aimed at preaching what I was practicing. But I have fallen short many times. There is no other alternative but to apologize, ask forgiveness and then get back on the horse.
Proverbs 24:16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
Living the word before our children and teaching it to them is critical and essential. But all knowledge must be based on God’s word. The authority of Scripture must be absolute not only in family devotions, but in history, science, language arts, art, music, and math. We undermine all of the good work in teaching our children the word of God in family worship and church if we do not follow through and appeal to the word of God as inspired and authoritative in “academic” disciplines as well as in “spiritual” disciplines.
Numerous studies have indicated that at least 75% of church-going youth children are leaving the church in high school and college and that the seeds were sown before they entered the teen years. The battle is whether God’s word is the final authority, and the battlefield is a literal interpretation of Genesis. If creation is not the recognized or assumed basis for truth, the house of knowledge will have a shaky foundation.
If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all. God’s word is either inspired from the very first verse, or it isn’t inspired in any verse. If man is left to decide which parts of Scripture are accurate, then man becomes the final arbiter of what is true and what is false. All Scripture is inspired by God, whether the wisdom of this world and her experts agree or not.
Let us not be among those who “refused to have God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28) or those who were “fashioned according to this world” but rather those peculiar people who were “transformed by the renewing of their mind” (Romans 12:2).
Steve and Sandra Demme have been married for more than 29 years. Their union has been blessed with four sons Isaac, Ethan, Joseph and Johnny. With God's help, each of the Demme boys enjoyed a home education.
In addition to developing the Math-U-See books and learning tools, Steve speaks at homeschool conferences, addressing a variety of topics in the hopes of encouraging parents in their God-given responsibilities to raise and train their children for His glory. Steve's desire is to understand God's word and practice it, beginning at home.