Is a Biblical Worldview Optional?

Education

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Our worldview affects every area of life. So parents cannot afford to depend on others to form their children’s worldview.

If we were asked if a biblical worldview is optional, we would simply have to answer, “No!” But in a fallen world, trying to establish such a worldview in children is challenging. A worldview is the core set of beliefs that impact how we view, understand, and respond to everything that we observe and experience in this world.

In her freshman English course, a girl who attended a Christian school from kindergarten all the way through high school was asked if education should be Christian. Her response was a six-page paper, which confidently concluded that a biblical worldview–based education is “effective, life-changing, and ultimately important.” She said, “If applied and accepted, a Christian worldview can be the basis for changing a child’s life, future, mindset, discipline, responsibility, and give them opportunities for future ministry. The most important thing about a good, Bible-based foundation is that it should share the gospel and teach others how to share it, too.” Having experienced it herself, this girl understood the importance of a Christian education.

Ultimately, there are only two worldviews—either for or against Christ. And there are only two foundations on which to construct a worldview—God’s Word or man’s word. This battle began in Genesis 2 and 3, when God instructed Adam and Eve to obey God’s Word, but the devil tempted them to trust their own word and be their own gods. Out of these two foundations, a person builds either a biblical worldview beginning with God’s Word or a secular worldview beginning with man’s word.

It may surprise you that an extremely small percentage of youth from even Christian schools and homeschools have a truly biblical worldview. The Nehemiah Institute conducts a PEERS test to objectively measure the understanding of how biblical principles apply to all areas of life, and it compares how a student’s worldview compares with that of their parents or teachers. The test measures worldview in politics, economics, education, religion, and social issues.

According to the PEERS test, only about 14% of those who take the test believe in absolute truth, have a firm biblical understanding of issues, and are allowing Scripture to guide their reasoning regarding ethical, moral, and legal issues. The other 86% do not have a solid, biblical worldview.

A Biblical Mandate

Because of sin, there is no perfect form of education. Families are in many different situations, some extremely difficult. There are single-parent families and poverty-stricken families. In some countries, homeschooling and Christian schools are illegal. In many ways, much of the church has failed such families. Regardless, parents are the ones ultimately responsible before God for their children’s education and must do their best whatever their situation. They must develop a biblical worldview as much as possible in their children.

The Bible offers Christian parents clear instructions concerning the education of their children and which Christian principles and philosophy to teach them. In Deuteronomy 6:6–9, parents are given a biblical mandate to educate their children according to God’s Word in everything they do.

Just being Christian parents or taking them to church each week will not fulfill that mandate. Children must be taught about God continually. Parents can choose assistance to help them on this journey, but it is the parents, not pastors, teachers, or textbooks, who are fully responsible to see that the Word of God is integrated into every aspect of their children’s lives.

Only the Bible, carefully and consistently taught, will enable students to correctly think about everything.

As part of this educational responsibility, parents need to see that students are taught that God’s Word, beginning in Genesis, is the only foundation for developing a truly biblical worldview. Only the Bible, carefully and consistently taught, will enable students to correctly think about everything.

Working Together

Whether attending homeschool, Christian school, or government school, by the time a typical student finishes high school, he or she has spent more than 15,000 hours in school—many more hours than spent at church. What children see, hear, and learn during school hours must be brought in line with the truth of God’s Word. Parents must constantly guard their children’s minds and hearts. That can be easier if your children are homeschooled or attend a Christian school, but we must never throw up our hands and hope for the best. In all educational choices, the task of monitoring and training to the best of our ability is not optional. God’s Word must be taught and understood as our final authority, even when teachers or textbooks blatantly disparage or disagree.

Without careful oversight, students, having a sin nature, can easily become secularized by the influences they encounter in all those school hours. In a perfect situation, the family, church, and school should work in cooperation with each other, forming the same ideals and principles in the children. If church, school, and family were able to work toward the same goal, children would see these relationships as a community instead of individual entities that teach and emphasize different values. The entire community then would help students establish a coherent, biblical worldview, and would give them direction for their lives. Not all situations are this ideal. But we should strive for this as much as possible, knowing there will be limitations depending on individual situations.

Definition of Education with a Biblical Worldview

A person’s worldview is a set of fundamental beliefs or assumptions that determine the way he or she lives. A biblical worldview is one based fully on the Word of God, accepting truth as objective, and accepting God’s absolute standards for morality. The big questions of life are answered differently depending on a person’s worldview. If the Bible is the foundation of a person’s education, those questions will be answered from a biblical frame of reference. Students taught from a biblical perspective should be able to articulate biblical answers about difficult subjects and recognize unbiblical ideas when they see them and be able to respond effectively.

Fully Integrated Biblical Worldview

A home, school, and church that teach from a biblical worldview not only teach that the Bible is true but also establish the Bible as the foundation from which all subjects are taught. Romans 1:20 reinforces that we can know and understand aspects of who God is by studying the things he created.

Teaching students to think critically about the world around them and how they fit into God’s plan is an important part of education. Having the right perspective on this equips the students to serve God, regardless of future profession. Just having Christian teachers, prayer in the classroom, and chapel once a week is not enough. When students can be taught at schools where the Bible is fully integrated, both the curriculum and extracurricular activities will provide a safe environment in which they can grow, make mistakes, and develop their God-given talents.

Discipline

Ultimately, the best situation is for Christian parents to choose a schooling option with strong biblical values where they are able to partner with godly people, such as teachers and other specialists, to assist them on the parenting journey. Strong Christian teachers, whether they be parents or someone delegated to teach children about God, have a significant influence on children’s lives and play a vital role in shaping their character and decisions. Effective teachers who love God, their subject, and their students are driven to provide the quality, well-rounded education parents seek for their children.

Of course, the best situation would be to provide education that has a totally biblically based philosophy of discipline. Regardless of how good a teacher is or how many fun learning activities he or she has, discipline problems will occur because of sin, and children will need correction. Teachers must have an effective plan for classroom discipline and management, so they are able to train children in a well-ordered manner that promotes student learning. With a grace-based approach in a Christian school, teachers can help children see the wrong motives in their misbehavior and then point them toward the forgiveness only God can offer. Discipline based on a strong biblical worldview will focus not only on a child’s behavior but also on the attitudes that motivate the behavior.

Teachers

It would be ideal if every child could have teachers with a solid, personal relationship with God. Students watch and learn by example, and it would be such a blessing to always have teachers who not only love God but also live a consistent, joy-filled Christian life—teachers who believe and live the truth in front of students on a daily basis. Imagine having teachers who partner with parents to disciple students with love and welcome parents to take an active role in the spiritual development of their children. This partnership would have a significant impact on the child’s behavior and attitude. Unfortunately, that’s just not always possible, so parents need to be doing all they can to help overcome the negative influences of sin on our children.

Curriculum

Educational materials also shape a student’s worldview. All parents should be fully aware of which textbooks their students are using and have an intimate understanding of the curriculum—the actual coursework and the content being taught. In a Christian school or homeschool setting, the whole curriculum should be taught and applied from a biblical perspective.

Exposure to Unbiblical Worldviews

As children come in contact with the unbiblical ideas that permeate our culture, parents must use these opportunities as teachable moments.

No matter how protective parents are, their children will be exposed to unbiblical worldviews—at school and through media, advertisements, and many other sources. As children come in contact with the unbiblical ideas that permeate our culture, parents must use these opportunities as teachable moments, guiding their children to analyze each situation from a biblical worldview perspective. When their teachers are also approaching issues from the same biblical viewpoint, something that unfortunately does not happen even in some Christian schools, they can confirm what their parents are teaching instead of causing confusion.

If children are placed in a situation where they spend a lot of time with non-Christian teachers and non-Christian friends, parents need to be aware that such exposure can have a major negative influence on the ways the children think and act. For example, in a non-Christian environment, children may experience objectionable language or phrases they easily pick up on and start using, therefore becoming desensitized. This can also happen in many so-called “Christian” environments. But it is true that the daily influence of teachers who have a fundamentally different worldview may influence them negatively for life. Thus, parents need to be diligent in knowing how their children are being educated.

If the education system forbids the mention of God, the curriculum is not neutral as it may claim to be. Do whatever it takes to inoculate your children against the false teachings of secular education. But if you are able to choose a Christian school option for your children, see that as a way not to completely isolate them from the challenges of the world but to prepare them to face those challenges. Regardless of the school, the parents are responsible to train up their children to be educated Christians, ready to give an answer (I Peter 3:15) in a society that is quickly growing more and more hostile to Christians.

The Importance of Friendship

It may be easier to counter the negative influence of a teacher than to counter the negative influence of a non-Christian friend. People at any age can feel pressured from peers to compromise their values, but children are especially at risk as they form their identity as image-bearers of God. As 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns, friends with an opposite value system can be destructive.

If parents can find a Christian schooling option, it is much more likely that their children will form strong friendships with a godly peer (though not always). In a Christ-honoring environment, parents, pastors, and teachers should be working together to assist students to form lasting and true friendships, helping children and youth realize that their true friends should strengthen their biblical values and relationship with God (Proverbs 27:17). However, parents should be warned that regardless of how their children are educated, they need to closely monitor who their children bond with.

Parental Involvement

No matter which schooling option parents choose, they need to be involved to help prepare their children for whatever they will face in life. Just sending children to a school that teaches the same values as home and church will not be enough to prepare them to defend their faith. Parents still need to biblically address the tough issues with their children so that when they are exposed to a unbiblical worldview, they will know how to react. Those who disciple their children at home and can either homeschool them or send them to a quality Christian school with strong biblical integration and thoroughly Christian textbooks will have some obvious advantages.

Regardless, God’s Word makes it clear that education begins in the home and is ultimately the parents’ responsibility. All parents need to be intimately involved in training their children to build a truly biblical worldview.

Dr. Kristin Bird is the education specialist at Twelve Stones Christian Academy. She is a consultant for other Christian schools and teaches education classes online for several Bible colleges. She holds a PhD in curriculum and instructional leadership from Northcentral University in Arizona.

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November–December 2019

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