As caring parents, we want our children to have the best educational experience possible. And the best experience available, say Christian educators, is one that will nurture our sons and daughters both intellectually and spiritually. With this in mind, we asked six leaders in Christian education to discuss the distinctive qualities and benefits of a Christ-centered learning environment.
What is distinct about a Christian education?
Dr. Parrott: We aren't here to simply offer a campus environment that reflects a Christ-honoring lifestyle. As important as that is, our main purpose is to teach every discipline from a foundation of faith and truth. We want students to understand how God's truth fits into every aspect of life.
Rev. Bridges: A Christian college builds its academic programs around the belief that the Bible is the only inspired and infallible written Word of God and should be the absolute standard of truth for every person. For this reason, classes are taught from a biblical perspective. A certain number of Bible courses may also be required for each degree as well.
Dr. Martin: We want to provide education at the highest level, and do so in a Christian environment. We strive to incorporate Christian principles in both curricular and co-curricular activities. A Christian education emphasizes building the whole personphysical, rational, social and spiritual.
Mr. Johnson: Unlike a standard secular education, academic freedom is not completely open-ended in Christian education. Christian education places academic freedom within the bounds of biblical revelation and the lordship of Christ.
Dr. Teague: There are so many "voices" in secular culture. Each of these voices wants to grab your attention and feed you a message. A Christian education seeks to help students discern God's voice amid all these secular voices. We want to help students hear God clearly amid all the clamor around them.
Why is a Christian education valuable?
Dr. Beebe: Our professors have committed their lives to teaching and shaping minds as well as character. One of the main differences between a Christian-based education and a secular education, as I experienced it personally, was the motivation for the faculty. In secular institutions, the primary focus often seems to be one of self-interest. In general that is not what I find at a Christian school.
Dr. Teague: The decade between 16 and 26 is a critical one. In this time span, your child will make decisions that will shape their next 50 years. This includes career options, courtship, friendships and the convictions that will guide them through life. Having mature Christian teachers and mentors to strengthen and encourage them during those years is critical.
Some parents worry that a Christian education won't prepare their child for the real world. What would you like to say to these concerned parents?
Dr. Martin: Actually, the opposite is true. A Christian education prepares students to meet the challenges of a complex world. Being broadly educated under highly trained mentors who teach students to reason, analyze and think deeply gives our graduates an important advantage in a changing world. All of our majors have opportunities for internships and other experiences that take them into the broader society.
Rev. Bridges: Today's secular culture is not built upon absolute truths, but we believe it's paramount to teach the biblical truths that will enable a person to make godly and wise decisions throughout their lifetime. Personally, I want to provide my two sons every opportunity within my power to help them receive wise counsel, and sound teaching. I also want to see them develop godly relationships during their formative college years.
Mr. Johnson: A Christian education is the best kind of education to prepare students for the real world. The ability to think critically and biblically about all topics is increasingly needed as our culture becomes more secular and more pluralistic.