Many classical schools are springing up throughout the nation and around the world, and while they offer the benefits of a classical education, most but not all of them are distinctively Christian. Some of these non-Christian classical schools, in fact, exalt the best that pagan Western culture has to offer. By contrast, a truly Christian classical education surrounds students with the Word of God all day long, and cultivates a positive Christian culture that is truly Christ-centered even as students learn to do battle with the paganism of Western civilization.
Classical Christian education teaches students to apply the tools of learning so that they think and live fruitful Christian lives by serving Christ as Lord in every area of life, including how they do in Latin, Logic, Rhetoric, Great Books, Math, Science, and all the rest.
The aim of classical Christian education is not only to teach students how to consistently think and express themselves, but how to do so in a distinctively Christian way—that is, how to think and express themselves in light of God’s Word and in submission to Christ as Lord of all. Classical Christian education seeks to have students to apply God’s Word to every area of their lives and in every endeavor in life. A classical education also recognizes the rich cultural tradition God has given us through Western Civilization. A mastery of tools of learning from a Christian worldview will best equip students to engage our culture as fruitful ambassadors for Christ.
Traditional Christian education has typically attempted to “balance” secular subjects with the Bible. The fare cooked up and offered to Christian children at some of these schools really ends up being a secular meal covered with a bit of Christian flavoring—the condiment approach to Christian education. A cup of secular educational method added to six cups of secular textbooks and all mixed up with popular pagan psychology is a pagan recipe, no matter how “good” the Bible class or weekly chapel service may be at a particular school. This is the fare served up at the traditional Christian school, and it is a half-baked recipe for disaster. A plate of slop is still a plate of slop no matter how much ketchup you pour on it. A truly Christian education requires more than a bunch of ketchup to mask the stench of paganism. Distinctively Christian schools must get rid of the slop and serve up distinctively Christian fare.
As John Milton wrote long ago, “The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith, makes up the highest perfection.” A classical Christian education seeks to repair the ruins and to train children in true, biblical virtue. It is an education based squarely on the Word of God that seeks to submit to Christ as Lord of every area of life every minute of every day, inside the classroom and on the playground. As one professor and pastor noted fifty years ago, “A truly Christian education is possible only when Christian education underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life—those are great central convictions that underlie the Christian school.”