Educating For The Glory of God
by Patrick Hurd
It wasn’t so long ago when the education choices available were public school or parochial private school. Today, the 21st century young couple encounters a barrage of alternatives each of which may employ one or more differing teaching methods. For example, there are public schools that specialize in technical or vocational training and may use the closed or open classroom concept. They may be magnet schools or charter schools. Private schools may be secular or religious, traditional or classical, general ed or special ed, etc… Home schools may employ traditional, classical, or “un-schooling” methods or some of each. All the above may utilize co-ops, tutorials, and some form of "distance" learning. If all that isn’t enough for new parents to ponder in wonderment, then comes the mix of curriculum choices to be sorted through. Is the child a visual learner or audible learner? Whose version of history should be believed? Which method of teaching math should be used? Printing first and then cursive or cursive from the beginning? How about italic cursive? Science – old earth or new earth? Reading – early or late? Speed? Well, at least everyone seems to agree on phonics. But that may well be where the voice of agreement disintegrates into the chatter of a diverse population attempting to sort through the whole mess with the desire to give their children the best education possible. Most parents probably could not give a reason for the method of schooling they first chose; it just seemed to make the most sense at the time. Unfortunately, the choices to be faced don’t stop with the first child or the first grade. More children come along, each growing and developing at differing paces. The choices, too, only grow in number and complexity. It is not my purpose here to debunk one choice or put a stamp of approval on another (though my bias should be obvious to any reader). Rather, my purpose is to assert that Christians should make all life choices, especially the education, culture, and method for their children on a basic presupposition summarized for us by Paul in a letter to the Corinthian church: "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Purposing to Glorify

I think that many times our first mental response to such an admonition is one like, “Well, of course. I’ll be sure to do that. Now can we get back to the practical aspects of getting the job done” as if the admonition is abstract and subjective and is of no earthly use to the task at hand. But I don’t think Paul was intending to be hyper-spiritual, high minded, or “high roadish” with the real issues of life. I think he was asserting that everyone has a motive and agenda that will dictate the actions they take and that Christians are to know that there is only one valid motive and agenda– to the glory of God. Accordingly, everything we do, including educating our children, is to originate from a motive of glorifying God. 

This commission of God serves us in at least two ways. First, the commission gives us a basis by which to define the propriety of methods we employ in fulfilling the duties of life. Not every education method or culture glorifies God. Second, it gives us a purpose that is bigger than ourselves, our immediate history, and is accompanied by the assurance of God’s blessing. It is the enduring hope of this purpose and of God's blessing that strengthens us to persevere to the very end. If our efforts are God centered rather than task centered ( i.e., education tasks) we are less vulnerable to being overcome by discouragement, distraction, and fatigue in the long run of the education race. But before we can truly appreciate the way God’s commission of our life to glorify Him in all things serves us in homeschooling, we should first understand just what it means to glorify something. 

It seems that the common modern notion of glory emphasizes some aspect of praise and/or worship. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In consideration of time and space, I propose this simple definition of glory: The outward manifestation of someone's or something's inward attributes, characteristics, and qualities. The outward manifestation of the very nature and essence of a person or object that distinguishes it from all other particulars in the universe. Accordingly, we can then agree with the Psalmist who declares, "And let the whole earth be filled [with] His glory." (Psalm 72:19) All of mankind has the distinct place in creation of being His image bearer. 

However, this is not a property of man that radiates from within, as some cults believe, but rather men are reflectors of His glory. Therefore, we can again agree with the Psalmist who writes, "But You, O LORD, [are] a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head." (Psalm 3:3) The fact that man was created to bear the image of God is not disputable, nor is it contingent upon man's consent or confession of such a role. And that brings us to the crux of the question, "How should we then live (love, work, play, educate, worship, govern, etc…)?" The Christian is to answer the question, "For the glory of God." That the non-Christian answers, "For the glory of myself" does not nullify his inescapable role as God's image bearer but, rather, affirms Paul's assessment of man's ability (and fallen desire) to deceive himself, suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and refuse to give thanks to God. (Romans 1:18-21) 

Purposeful Cultures and Methods

If all people are bearing the image of God and, particularly Christians, are to be reflecting His glory (i.e., His attributes, characteristics, and qualities), just what should such a thing look like? Paul mentions three qualities of God at Romans 1:20 that His people should be making manifest: His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and His Godhead. His invisible attributes are innumerable, but examples would include His love, compassion, long-suffering, grace, mercy, holiness, justness, righteousness, jealousy, zeal, loyalty, immutability, orderliness, perseverance, honesty, etc…. Examples of His eternal power include His omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and aseity. Examples of His Godhead include His sovereign rule over creation and His predetermination of all of history. 

Thus, Christian education that glorifies God does more than simply study God and the Bible to gain a better knowledge and understanding. Christian education teaches Christians, His image bearers, how to reflect His glory onto the issues of society and bring life and light to the world. To educate our children to the glory of God means to not only teach our children that God is holy and just, and that, as His image bearers, we are to be holy and just in all our ways and dealings in society, but to also teach what Godly justice (as one example) is, what distinguishes Godly justice from manly justice, to identify injustices, and how to lobby whatever means we have to bring Godly justice to bear on injustice.  

One educating to the glory of God doesn't have to look very hard for real life applications with which to wrestle. Timothy McVeigh: Does God's glory say anything about our current penal system and the death penalty? Sandpoint, Idaho: Does God's glory say anything to the sacredness of the family and, if one institution breaks down, is it appropriate for another institution to step in? If so, which one? Property Rights: Does God's glory say anything to the state reducing its citizens to renters by laying claim to land and taxing its use? But before we go too far with these issues and reach sophomoric solutions that fall short of the glory of God, remember there are two more ingredients to take into consideration: His eternal power and Godhead.  

While we may be able to make manifest a bit of God's glory by modeling His invisible attributes in our daily living, it is not even remotely the case with regards to His eternal power and Godhead. But that doesn't minimize the importance and influence of these two ingredients of God's character in the way we believe and, thus, live. For example, one equates God's omniscience with His predetermination of history while another, on the other hand, with His ability to "look down the corridor of time." One views God as actively sovereign while another views God as passively sovereign. One regards God’s will as preceptive while another permissive. Each persuasion and combination of persuasions produce differing conclusions about the Christian answers to the issues of life and the action of His people that best manifest His glory.

How we as parents and educators portray to our children God’s eternal power and Godhead plays a vital role in the development of their own vision and understanding of life purpose.   A young man embarking upon entering society will come to different conclusions about himself and his role in society depending on how he has been trained to understand the nature and character of God and how that training has been applied in real life situations. If his standing at the gate of adulthood in 21st century United States is simply a lucky draw of chance and fate (rather than being born at another time and place of history), that is one thing. His ideas about himself and his future expectations will be formed accordingly.  

But if his standing at the gate of adulthood in 21stcentury United States is the result of a predetermined act of a sovereign God who is ruling and reigning over His creation, then that produces a whole different perspective about himself and his future expectations. I trust that you sense the complexity of the problem. Glorifying God is much more than paying homage to him on Sundays or at the dinner table. It is making manifest His invisible attributes, eternal power, and Godhead by bringing His character to bear on the issues of life to a world of spectators who have no other compass by which to judge right from wrong, life from death. 

Thus the absolute necessity of education based upon a Christian worldview. It gives no glory to God to teach our children that 2+2=4 - period; that Titus invaded Jerusalem in 70AD - period; or that fire requires fuel, oxygen, and heat - period.   But be assured that someone or something WILL receive the glory for the fact of 2+2=4. This is exactly the point of trouble for those who continue to patronize the public schools. The issue is not, at the source, what the pubic schools teach or not teach as it is the agenda of the public school system that determines why and with what presuppositions a topic is taught or not taught. Be assured the agenda is to glorify someone or something; it can never be neutral. 

But even if neutrality is the stated goal, glorifying neutrality is no substitute for glorifying God and thus the education it gives its constituents is still defective. Therefore, the question is not just, "Are the things I'm involved in consistent with God's character?" but also, "Am I doing those things in a method that is consistent with God's character?"  The husband might be content that he's not involved in adultery since adultery is certainly something inconsistent with the character of God. But the husband who desires to glorify God doesn’t satisfy himself there. Is he loving his wife as Christ loves the Church? Is he leading his family as a prophet, priest, and king? Is he being faithful and loyal to his family and providing for their needs? 

This standard of measure obviously not only applies to husbandry and education, but also music, art, entertainment, economics, politics, worship and any other form of activity or discipline we might be involved with. The fact is that God does care how things are done which means that if some things are approved (such as loving your wife) then other things must necessarily be disapproved (such as ignoring your wife). If it is right for children to be taught the fear of God (Deut 4:10) then it is certainly wrong to not teach them the fear of God or to direct their fear towards anything other than God. 

Purposing to Persevere

It is exactly at this point that the Christian educator, who is not just teaching the facts but teaching the foundations behind the facts, gains the confidence of his work and its effectiveness. Educating with the purpose of equipping our children to glorify God is accompanied by the assurance of God and His promises for the season of harvest, especially during those long seasons when no fruit is evidencing itself. Educating for any other purpose provides no future assurance of anything other than what we can muster up from within ourselves. For the confidence of our work doesn't lie in how much knowledge our kids acquire during their years of schooling, though that should be deemed important. But the real priority is how much did they learn about God through the education they received. 

From this point we can see that God cannot be known apart from knowledge and that knowledge cannot be true apart from God. Indeed, the fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge, [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:17) Knowledge for the sake of knowledge causes pride. Knowledge validated by the character of God for its application, on the other hand, produces Godly problem-solving. Therefore the accumulation of knowledge is not for self-gratification, selfish purposes, or simply something someone does when they're too young to earn a living or get married. 

There is a purpose underlying the study and this purpose transcends the people involved in the process. It has a high purpose that only God can give to it and, consequently, we gain joy and enthusiasm for the task before us by the hope of God's sure blessing on the whole project. This is an important point to seize, especially for the veteran homeschooler. The homeschool community witnesses a large number of “dropouts” in the later years of their children mainly due to a loss of joy that gradually creeps in on the parents. The originating source of this loss of joy may be elusive to identify but I don’t believe it happens suddenly. Rather, I believe it to be a progressive deterioration over several years resulting from several pressures upon the family that cause the parents to lose track of their original focus and reasons for homeschooling. 

Of several possible causes, two are the prime suspects: The growing difficulty of the curriculum as the children get older and the growing pressure on the parents by older children trained in indulgences. As for the former, there’s not much you can do to prevent it; schooling just gets harder as you enter those high school years. But you can begin to prepare yourself before you get there by, say for example, exploring tutorial options, co-op options, or even perhaps educating yourself ahead of time.   As for the later, there is a whole bunch you can do to prevent such pressure from over running your homeschool. The sin nature of children exhibits itself through self-centeredness, selfishness, willfulness, and discontentment. Indulgences begin as small and innocent favors parents enjoy giving their children. Parents who are trained by their children to give in through manipulation (guilt) or punishment (temper tantrums) soon discover the favors to become less and less enjoyable and more and more demanding. Left unchecked, the home becomes a child-centered home driven by the whims of the children and not conducive for home education. 

The home is to be a safe haven of growth and development for our children. It is the place where sanctification begins its process of equipping the will with the Word of God in order to subdue a heart that may be born again but is still, nevertheless, subject to fleshly desires. There is, therefore, a period of 15 to 20 years when the duty of the parents is to guard and defend the heart of their children from competing forces that seek the loyalty of their children. To do so allows the process of sanctification to get a solid start in the child’s life and the search for God’s specific calling to go uninhibited. Failure to guard and defend the heart of our children is to surrender them as POWs to our anti-Christian culture and to surrender their education. 

Conclusion 


Parents choose homeschooling for a variety of reason.  It seems that the number of convictions for homeschooling and the depth of those convictions play a large role in the steadfastness of the parents to homeschool.  Imagine someone who chose to homeschool only because they liked the idea of having their kids available for hugging at any given moment.  That doesn't sound like a formula for endurance. But that doesn't mean that sounder convictions couldn't or shouldn't enter the picture and grow in number and depth.  In fact, most of us probably started down the path of homeschooling based on simple and few convictions.  

The challenge before every one of us, especially as our children grow in number and age, is to grow in conviction to what we are doing.  Growth in the number of convictions as well as the depth of those convictions will produce a vision for the future that we can then pass on to our children. 

As Christian homeschoolers, we have the distinct privilege of being instrumental in the integration of knowledge and Godly character in our children on a day in - day out basis. It doesn't happen in the secular home school, it doesn't happen in the secular government school, and I sometimes wonder about the "Christian" private school. But there is no reason for it not to happen in your home school. Thorough integration of knowledge and God's glory results in a bunch of little image bearers reflecting His glory everywhere they go and through everything they do. 

You start putting together the fruit of home schooling families across our nation and in a generation or two the reflected light just might start getting a little bright. Now that's a hope to look forward to in the education of our children - to the glory of God. 

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:3

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Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas
PHurdWford@AOL.com

EST. 01/01/01