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Chapter 4: The Typical Christian School Model of Childhood Education

A Full Reward: Reformation Through Family-Run Christian Schools

Rev. Aaron Slack

Pastor, Author, Marketing Manager, Preschool Director

Chapter 4

The Typical Christian School Model of Childhood Education

Now What?

Faced with the depravity of the public school, an increasing number of Christian parents are looking for alternatives. I heartily commend those courageous parents who are dedicated enough to God’s commands to remove their children from government schools. But now what? A quick survey of the alternatives seems to suggest an obvious choice: the Christian school. It appears to be the ideal solution, since the main problem with the public school is that it is notChristian, right? We shall see.

This alternative to the public school is very popular. However, it is an extremely broad category, and finding a good Christian school that meets your criteria (and, more importantly, God’s) can be extremely difficult. My parents could not find a Christian school they believed God would be pleased with. There are so many factors involved, and it will most likely not be an easy decision: these are your kids after all!


Let’s talk about motives a little bit. I often see parents (including Christians) who put their kids into the various so-called “charter schools.” I must congratulate the charter schools on their very successful public relations campaign. I have not talked to any charter school parent who was not completely convinced that the charter schools were private. One mom told me that the reason her charter school required uniforms for the children was “because it’s an academy.” No one stops to think about why these “private” schools are completely free. An institution entirely bankrolled by the state and subject to its whims and demands can hardly be called “private.”

Nevertheless, because of their vaunted reputation and somewhat superior exterior facade, these schools are in high demand. In my experience there are two main reasons parents choose a charter school. First, parents like the feeling of superiority that comes with having a student at a charter school, particularly when it doesn’t cost them anything. They are status symbols: Again, “It’s an academy.” Second, the (false) supposition that charter schools provide a superior education helps to assuage the guilt many parents feel because they are not doing enough for their children. They don’t want to feel like bad parents. Guilt is a powerful motivator.

The reason I bring up charter schools is because many, many Christian parents in my experience choose an ostensibly Christian school for the same reasons. I have encountered many Christians who believe that the mere act of placing their children in a school labeled “Christian” completely fulfills their obligation to raise up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Not so. As incredible as it may seem, it is easy to find Christian schools which are no better than state schools. There is danger here. Many well-intentioned people are lulled into a false sense of security. The act of attending a Christian school does not guarantee a godly education any more than the act of going to church makes a person a believer.

Other parents choose Christian schools because, again, they are status symbols. Not only do they get to tell people their child attends a private school, they also get a pat on the back from their church for choosing such a school. They seek the praise of men. Like Ananias and Sapphira, they give to God only as much as they think will establish a good reputation for them in the Christian community. Pleasing God is a distant second. This is idolatry. The Bible has a word for people like this: pharisees. “But all their works they do for to be seen of men” (Matt. 23:5a). For these people, all they want is a Christian school that has the right accreditation to be considered respectable, and maybe a sports program.

Many of these schools are little more than private schools with a thin coating of Christianity splattered on. These schools are so burdened by attempts to be considered respectable by secular authorities and Christian intellectuals that “the salt have lost his savour.” We will discuss the dangerous “Classical Christian” school a little later. Beware of compromise in any area: humanistic psychology, Hellenic (Greek) ideas, or just plain bad theology. All severely retard the testimony of the Christian school which allows such degradation.

My encounters with Christian educators as a whole have not been encouraging. Many of these people are so blinded by their own humanist educations that they see no conflict between Paul and Piaget. They compromise and do not even realize that they have compromised. The weak theology prevalent among such sometimes well-intentioned pedagogues leaves them unable to defend themselves against the humanist doctrines taught with such enthusiasm in the world. The child development theories of godless psychologists like Erikson, Maslow, Piaget, and others are treated more like Gospel than the actual Gospel. After all, the churchman or educator cannot argue with science!

Government “Assistance”

There is another area of compromise the Christian parent should be aware of: government funding. There are no government funds that do not come with strings attached. In many cases, the government has interfered in the marketplace to such an extent that many businesses, schools, and preschools feel that the only way to compete is to accept government assistance. This is often true, but there is a limit. A school must be prepared to say, “Thus far and no further!” when it comes to state interference. My own state of Florida has taught Grace Community Schools many lessons in this area. We have had to gradually wean ourselves off of such funds to preserve our witness to the children who depend on us.

The results of government interference in Christian schools and the subsequent compromise by those schools has horrified me. I have seen Christian schools who have gone so far as to cease all Bible instruction during state-funded hours to satisfy state inspectors and avoid a conflict. They may succeed in avoiding conflict with men, but I am convinced they will not succeed with God. I had a conversation once with a woman involved in a church school who was puzzled as to why we were having troubles with the state. “They don’t bother us,” she said. Indeed. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” especially state mammon! Truly these schools are not fit for anything but to be cast out. They serve as a warning to the rest of us about the dangers of compromise. However, we must press on. The Christian parent must find a school!

Family Size

Christians will be unable to fulfill God’s cultural (dominion) mandate unless they begin to outbreed the pagans, humanists, and other groups opposed to God’s kingdom. We are to take possession of the earth to the glory of God. My pastor, Dr. Ellsworth McIntyre, likes to say, “Procreation is God’s preferred method of evangelism.” Indeed. In an era in which any family with more than two children is considered “large” (I laugh at restaurants advertising “family-size” meals that serve four people), the God-fearing, procreating Christian family has an insurmountable edge over the increasingly homosexual and homosexual-influenced enemies of the faith. Sterility is the new norm, and all too many Christians are buying in to this as well. Birth control use in the church is rampant, and even telling people not to mutilate their private parts through sterilization surgeries like vasectomy has become controversial. This should not be so.

Let us assume that you have decided to obey God in this area. You have decided to procreate to the glory of God, and are endeavoring to raise your children up in the Christian faith. You realize that a truly Christian education is foundational to this effort. You reject government schooling as incompatible with this goal, so you choose a Christian school. Now a godly parent such as yourself is faced with paying a large sum of money for each child placed in the school. This is a drain on the family finances that gets bigger with each additional child. One of the benefits of running a daycare/school, as my wife and I do, is being able to keep our children with us (for free!). When Amy and I tell people how many children we have, some say, “We would love to have more. But we just can’t afford it.” In Genesis 1:28, God commands us to be fruitful and multiply, no matter what the obstacles, so this is not a valid excuse where God is concerned. But what a joy to be able to not worry about paying for childcare for the kids! I hope that my intrepid reader is determined to obey Genesis 1:28 come what may, but I believe school tuition and associated costs discourage many well-meaning families from having as many children as they would otherwise. But there is more.

Dr. Ellsworth McIntyre, a man possessing more experience with Christian schools than most people can even dream about, says, “The product of the Christian school can be obtained for free at the public school.” And you pay a lot for that product, as well. Paying someone else to educate children is not the way children have historically been educated in America. While there is nothing wrong in principle with delegating the task of education (but not the responsibility), education at home by the family has a long and storied tradition. For many of today’s families, this is not a viable option. But why pay when you don’t have to? What if you have another option? You do—the Grace Community Schools model, in which you are paid to educate your own offspring as well as other families’ children. However, the financial aspect is only part of it.

Theology: The Most Important Subject

A parent placing their children in a Christian school has no control over what is taught. Possibly, the teaching will be better than what you will find at a public school. A primary downside to placing your child in a Christian school is your inability to choose the curriculum you as an informed parent would like. Instead, you are stuck with a predetermined “like it or leave it” set of courses, regardless of your preferences or your child’s actual is academic level. And forget about any sort of practical real-life training. This situation is not ideal as far as scholastic instruction is concerned, but it is far worse as far as theology goes.

It is of the utmost importance that you as a parent be able to train your child theologically. At a Christian school, you will have to compromise regarding doctrines. There is no way around this (unless you yourself are running the school—the Grace Community way). The biggest question the truly Bible-believing Christian parent will have regarding Christian school Bible instruction is this: “Where is the commandment teaching?” Scripture is plainspoken: “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deut. 6:7–9). Real Christian education is not possible without a constant emphasis in word and example on the commandments of God. Students from Christian schools graduate with a cursory knowledge of Bible stories, bad theology, and no knowledge of God’s commandments.

What you will pretty much universally find at Christian schools is an abstract “love of Jesus.” This is not a valid substitute for God’s Law. In fact, the fictional Jesus taught at these schools is so far removed from the Biblical Jesus that the two are antithetical. Man is primarily motivated by fear, not mushy-gushy emotional “love.” I’m against love, you say? Not at all. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). True love is being afraid to break our wedding vows, to steal, to lie, to kill. A Christian without this love is no Christian at all, and a school that has another definition of love is not a Christian school.

I am sure these Christian schools would disagree with me, because they have a very different definition of what a Christian is. In fact, they tell their students that they can be sure and certain that they are going to heaven just so long as they have made a verbal profession of faith. Truly, if you believe, says Scripture, you are saved. But how do you know you believe? When the Bible talks about beliefs, it is always in terms of actions. Faith without works is dead; to say otherwise is heresy. While many Christians would be reluctant to admit a belief in faith without works, their actions betray them. There is no clearer example of this than in the modern Christian doctrine of salvation, what is sometimes called “easy believism.”

Easy believism maintains that anyone who makes a simple verbal assent to belief in Jesus and a need for salvation (usually by praying the “sinner’s prayer”) will receive salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God saves whoever believes; the Scriptures are clear. But how do you know if you truly believe? Easy believism says the mere act of praying the sinner’s prayer is all that is required. It requires no change of heart (and thus actions) in the child. God’s standards, however, are higher. The sure sign that a child (or any person) is in the covenant is an ever-increasing ability to keep the commandments of God, not an emotional feeling. You will have trouble finding this truth taught in any Christian school (or church for that matter). It is what we teach at Grace Community School. Owning and operating your own school gives you the freedom to teach this to your kids and others. But if you are the customer and not the owner/operator? Too bad.

It is most distressing to see the fruits of this easy believism. We get to, in some of the parents who come through our school’s doors. The frightening reality is that there is little to no discernible difference amongst our clientele between the witness of those professing the name of Christ and those who do not. This is most striking in regards to the divorce rate among these parents—it is the same for the churched and the unchurched, for all intents and purposes. It is to the point where I often have trouble telling which couples are married and which are divorced. Married couples show no signs of closeness, hesitancy to criticize one another, or evidence that they are working together towards any common goals—in short, they do not show any signs that they are married! The fact that such marriages do not hold together is then not surprising. Remarriages are common, but couples are not embarrassed at all to tell us they are living together before marriage. The practice of abstaining from premarital relations is regarded as quaint and antiquated at best. No conflict is acknowledged between their lives and Christianity. I see faithful church-goers believing God is obligated to forgive all of their sins at any time, no matter what. They seem to answer Paul’s question in Romans 6:1 with a resounding, “Yes!”

Christianity for these people is valued no higher than membership in a social club would be. It has no bearing on their lives. It is regarded as having nothing to do with politics, child-rearing, or business dealings—all things that Scripture talks volumes about! When there is such little real difference between “Christians” and non-Christians, it should not be regarded as strange that Grace Community School does not demand a test of faith for its families. It should be of the utmost concern to the truly Christian family that its children do not receive a lukewarm education conducive to such a mediocre Christianity. Sadly, this is exactly what the typical Christian school offers.


If God’s law is not taught in the school, the opposite is taught: lawlessness. We call this “antinomianism,” and the church at large and its schools have done an extremely thorough job of indoctrinating its children with this perversion. This lawlessness taught in Christian schools is a great danger to its students.

Where is my evidence for this? Sexual activity among young, unmarried Christians, especially evangelicals, is almost as rampant as it is among young people in the rest of the world. Their Christian beliefs are not backed up by their actions. Sin is considered of little importance. Why should it be important? God loves and forgives unconditionally, no matter what! It is as if these Christians believe God has given them an unlimited supply of “Get Out of Jail Free” cards—some studies seem to show sexual sins are even more prevalent in the church than outside of it. If there are no consequences for sin, than God does not really mean what He says.

Growing up in a strong Christian family where the law of God was taught, I was unprepared for the lawlessness evidenced in the lives of church members as I got older: adulteries, broken marriages, thefts, drug arrests, and other scandals. These were more prevalent in the lives of children of church members. I had formerly thought that the church was a place where people lived by the precepts of God. It was very unsettling to find out that people I attended church with were capable of such things. It became clear to me that a mere profession of faith meant very little. I am no longer surprised by sins such as these, even (especially?) when committed by those claiming the Name of Christ. I am, however, determined that my children will be taught the fear of the Lord. They will not be taught to worship the effete “mamsy-pamsy” god of the evangelical Christian school—I have seen his children. Children need law, not love (love as it is now commonly defined, i.e., permissiveness).

On a related topic, the extensive anti-abortion movement in the church has done many good things, however, few in the church and Christian schools are dealing with the root cause of “unwanted pregnancies”: violation of the seventh commandment. The tide of abortions will not be stemmed until God’s people take his law (and the consequences for those who disobey it) seriously. The typical Christian school, with its impotent non-judgmental God, is not contributing to this effort. When there are no more children born out of wedlock, there will hardly be a demand for abortions.

The weakness of Christian school theology is often aggravated by this: even the best Christian school has an ulterior motive. This motive is to benefit (i.e., boost attendance to and donations for) its associated church. The insidiousness of this is that even people who realize it is going on do not see any problem with it. When the institutional church is equated with God, such a strategy is not surprising. The church’s theology will be taught no matter what, a theology chosen to be as noncontroversial as possible. Thus, the doctrines taught will be the same as can be believed by the lowest common denominator of church members. Pastors preach only what their congregations will accept, just like politicians tickling the ears of their constituency. In other words, the theology is weak as water.

In an attempt to please as many church members as possible, the Christian school curriculum is doctrinally impoverished. Commandments are replaced by humanistic virtues like tolerance. Bible stories are given twisted and insipid meanings by ignorant, pietistic teachers, and school discipline (God’s law enforced) goes down the tubes. The goal in everything is, “Do not offend.” Particularly, do not offend the influential church members and school board members! The moral lives of the school’s students suffer the most from this compromise. Why should children listen to a God constantly described as a nonjudgemental “Pilsbury Dough Boy” in the sky who always forgives and never asks for anything in return? The commanding Jehovah of the Bible is nowhere to be seen. This is bad. But it can be worse.

Beware the Classics!

Perhaps the most disturbing trend in Christian schools in recent years is the Classical Christian movement. These schools have become immensely popular; they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. When you hear an educator talking about the “Trivium” or the so-called “Lost Tools of Learning,” this is what he is talking about. Classical Christian Education (CCE) idolatrously elevates the workings of man’s mind to the level of God’s. The substitution of the laws of logic for God’s law cannot be blessed. Besides its obsession with formal logic, another characteristic of CCE is an adoration of ancient Greek culture and philosophy. As Tertullian famously said, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer from Classical proponents.

My research into Classical Christian Education has not shown me that there is any valid reason to mix pagan concepts and culture with Christian education. If the Christianity of CCE has survived, it has been by the grace of God in spite of its Greek elements, not because of them. Hellenic components introduced into Christianity are a pollution to true Christianity, not an edifying addition. An added emphasis on Greek thinking is certainly not needed in Christendom today. Nevertheless, this is what CCE calls for.

Are you in the habit of letting homosexual pagans instruct your children? CCE advocates are. Far from being a nation of “superior” teachers, God has seen fit to toss Greek civilization into the trash bin of history. Just Google “pederasty in ancient Greece” for a real eye-opener about the lauded Greek teachers. Morality trumps intelligence every time, because God blesses and curses on the basis of His covenant, not intellectual power. Aristotle was a pervert, thus he is not a proper teacher or role model for Christians, never mind his mental abilities. It is profoundly disturbing to hear people say that God’s logic is Aristotelian logic. In an era in which education is increasingly irrelevant or harmful to the student, Classical Christian Education is a step in the wrong direction. The problem with Christians today is not that they are illogical or unschooled in apologetics, it is that they have rejected God’s plain commandments—reason won’t help anyone with that.

Classical Christian Education is said by its promoters to be a return to the curriculum used in medieval Christendom—the same place Reason (with a capital R) began to reassert itself over God. Regarding this, R. J. Rushdoony said in The Philosophy of the Christian Education, “The curriculum was simply an adaption of ancient humanism.” In other words, it was throughly pagan. Furthermore, attempts by Classical Christian gurus to link the three stages of the Trivium to Scripture are sadly misguided at best—I find their arguments to be silly. Classical “Christian” Education is an exercise in folly, and one becoming all too prevalent. You cannot serve God and Reason.

Beyond the pagan aspect of CCE, I find a vast misplacement of emphasis. In fact, a Classical Christian Education is antithetical to what we offer at Grace Community Schools. Education should be practical—even the parts that are “abstract” should relate to something concrete. Classical Christian Education does not produce students with marketable skills. There are even Classical Christian colleges offering students degrees in liberal arts. The harsh reality of life is that academic achievement and knowledge of formal logic have no correlation with making money in the capitalist (Biblical) system.

What good is a Christian who cannot provide for his family or build capital for God’s kingdom? Classical Christian Education is argued to be the answer to godless secular education, however it posits a new god: the mind! Over and over, its advocates claim that a better educated person (i.e., a person with a better mind) will be better able to serve God. Alas, a knowledge of rhetoric, logic, and the classics will not avail much in the real world. Unless you are planning to be a teacher at a CCE school, you are far better off getting some practical business experience! A classical education will lead to too great a reliance on man’s intelligence rather than a leaning on Scripture. God is plain: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). I will say one thing: the CCE people I have talked with, and whose books I have read, are very smart. But it takes much more than smarts to please God.

Rather than focusing on logic, abstract learning, and homosexual culture, Christian education needs to be Christ-centered. In particular, it needs to equip young men and women with both a knowledge of God’s law and practical experience in the real world, ideally a trade. In these areas, Classical Christian Education falls flat. Their product is not one the industrious Christian should want.

A Conflict of Interests

Returning to the subject of church control, we find that a Christian school under the thumb of a church will not in most cases be willing to teach God’s commandments, expand evangelistically, or offer the best product they can in the marketplace. More properly, typical Christian schools should be considered church schools rather than Christian schools. They exist to benefit their church. It is amazing to me how many Christians I speak to are nonplussed and offended at the very idea that serving the institutional church and serving God are not the same thing! Instead of pleasing God, the church school attempts to please the people of its church. A church-run school is designed to benefit the church first, the students second; to put it mildly, this is a conflict of interest.

A church-controlled school will also suffer due to the fact that churches are anti-capitalistic. The modern Christian sees poverty as virtue, so anyone who would dare make a profit from a Christian school is evil. This is socialism, boys and girls. The church’s proud disdain of lawful profit leads it to ignore basic capitalistic techniques in the operation of its school. Profit is disdained, but so are low prices. Enrollment is limited below that which would allow the school to break even. The church’s goal is to always leave the school begging, dependent on fundraising schemes and donations. Advertising is seen as a lowbrow technique. When the Christian school runs deep into debt, this is seen as evidence of its holiness.

Meanwhile, any school that does not take a similar vow of poverty is regarded as evil. When a school like Grace Community can reach more students for Christ and make money at it to boot, it will be despised by the larger Christian community. Grace Community Schools, competing in the marketplace, must produce a good product to be successful, in addition to providing excellent customer service. Our existence, unlike that of a church-run school, is tied to the quality of our work. We seek to please God and the families that depend on us, that’s it.

The church’s attitudes toward Christian schools and capitalism shouldn’t surprise me; after all, this was how I once thought. I grew up in the institutional church and never questioned such things before coming to Grace Community Schools. This has been standard church doctrine for decades. God had to lead me down a long road before I saw the light. The church, as an institution, is innately neither good nor evil. It is God-ordained, and must function in the sphere God has given it. When it oversteps its bounds, using the education of the children entrusted to it for its own purposes rather than God’s, we have a problem.

Christians’ blind willingness to give their children up to the institutional church is characteristic of modern attitudes. The Church is viewed as the seat of all things religious, and the state is the seat of all things secular. This is a very unbiblical dichotomy. Biblically, the church is not to be the center of education or socialization or even worship; that is the family’s primary responsibility. Church activities should not be substitutes for family activities. In many cases, socialization with peers at church is little or no better than socialization with public school friends would be. Education of a family’s children is always primarily the family’s (in particular, the father’s) responsibility, not the church’s. A father is not to relinquish spiritual authority to another institution, even a Christian one (and likely the church school is Christian in little more than name). An overemphasis on the church’s importance and sphere of operation is unhealthy. It produces children (and adults) with a warped view of reality. Just as the state is not to be central in society, neither is the church. Church schools will produce children whose first loyalty is to the church, and who believe the church is the source of all solutions to problems.


The Christian school is seen as the default solution to the problem of how best to educate children in the faith. Many Christian families look no further, to the detriment of their children. The state of the modern church and the inherent limitations in the Christian school, as currently operated, leave it a less than desirable choice. Those who want the ideal way to give their children a supremely Christian education must keep looking. A Christian education is like the pearl of great price, but in this case you won’t have to give up everything—in fact, you stand to gain a great deal. In the next chapter, I will discuss the ultimate in Christian education: the Grace Community School system