Node-Christian-Education1-large1Education: there are so many forms of it today–public, home school, Christian, private, adult, special, informal, primary, secondary, higher learning, and the list goes on. With so many choices, how do you know the best option for yourself, your children, and your family? I am not one that thinks there is a one-size-fits-all mold for education. However, I do believe as a follower of Jesus Christ, that any education we undergo ourselves or in which we place our children should be Christian. I am not arguing that every set of believing parents must put their children in a Christian school or they are sinning. No! What I want to continue sharing today in a series of posts concerning Christian education. This series is not about why you should send your children to a Christian school. Far from it! Instead I hope to help you frame your thinking about what “Christian education” really is and is not. Last week we discussed the methods of Christian education. This week,  I want to discuss the various philosophies of Christian education.

Various Philosophies and Christian Education

                Various philosophies exist on education and how it should be performed. From the Realist to the Idealist, philosophies on education are not hard to find; however, Christian educators must be discerning as to which philosophies to utilize in their own teaching. There are good, truthful things to be learned from philosophers, but there are also dangers to avoid when seeking to adopt new methods, content, or ways of thought to a truly Christian education. There are at least five philosophies that present positive insight into the educational process—Idealism, Realism, Educational Humanism, Essentialism, and Behaviorism.

These five philosophies do not originate from Christian backgrounds, but do present important insight into education. For instance, Idealism states that truth is perfect and eternal, which is consistent with the Christian belief that God is perfect and the eternal truth. (Jn. 14:6; Deut. 32:4; Titus 1:2; Heb. 1:3) [1]  Realism purports that the inductive method of study should be stressed which God’s Word testifies to as well (Rom. 1:18-20; Ps. 19:1)[2]. Educational Humanism maintains that education is built on trust and security. This corresponds to God’s design for education to occur primarily in the home (Deut. 6:5-9; Ps. 78; Prov. 3:5-6).[3] Essentialism also adds to education the idea that hard work is necessary to learning, discipline is needed and beneficial, and authorities must be respected.[4] Finally, Behaviorism states that the laws of nature should be studied.[5] Several good principles can be drawn from these five secular philosophies.

The positive principles pulled from the secular philosophies not only line up with Scripture, but are derived from Scripture. The authors and developers of each philosophy have only discovered what God has intended and planned before time began. He is the author of the universe and of all things (Col. 1:16; Gen. 1); therefore, anything that man may discover is ultimately an insight from the Lord. Each of the philosophies need to be seen and evaluated in light of the Scriptures. When evaluating, a Christian educator must always keep in mind the goal and purpose of Christian education. The educator could easily become pragmatic in perspective and begin to utilize a behaviorism philosophy of trying to change people’s actions instead of their hearts and lives. Therefore, prayer and constant reflection on God’s Word is foundational and crucial when considering how to integrate other philosophies into Christian education.

Christian education flows in every way out of God’s Word as mature believers model and mentor younger believers to spiritual maturity. Understanding what the content of Christian education is vital to having an education that is truly Christian. In case you missed part 1 of the series: Christian Education: Definition and Goals, or part 2: Christian Education: the Teacher, or part 3: Christian Education: the Student, or part 4: Christian Education: the Content, or part 5: Christian Education: the Methods, check them out here. Stop by next week where the topic will be Christian Education: Evaluation.

[1] George R. Knight, Philosophy & Education: an Introduction in Christian Perspective, 4th Edition. (Barren Springs: Andrews University Press, 2006), 44-48

[2] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2003), 939, 456

[3] Ibid., 151, 488, 528,

[4] George R. Knight, Philosophy & Education: an Introduction in Christian Perspective, 4th Edition. (Barren Springs: Andrews University Press, 2006), 121-124

[5] Ibid., 133-134