***This is the third in a series of three posts, where I will cover item #3 below***
I believe there are three basic and essential components or building blocks to achieving quality in a sound Christian school:
1. Using the Bible in all aspects of education including evaluation, curriculum, policies, and administration.
2. A true biblical Christian requirement of all school employees.
3. What will be described as “the whole counsel of God.”
The Whole Counsel of God
The third essential quality after requiring employees to be true biblical Christians, and using the Bible as the foundation for policies and teaching, is how God’s Word is treated and esteemed. This third important quality of sound Christian schools is to not purposefully denigrate the Word of God. That may sound a bit inane in a Christian school, but I have seen unintentional misuse of the Bible, which causes great harm. This has been done in various ways, such as neglecting portions of the Bible that are thought to be offensive to some, adding to God’s Word to make a or support a decision, and I have seen passages taken out of their context to say something the Bible did not say.
Do not disparage (to degrade or depreciate by indirect means), belittle (reduce or dismiss the importance of), or defame (attack the reputation or character by slanderous remarks) God’s Word. Maintain and teach the lofty stature and relevance of the whole of God’s Word. One requisite is found in numerous places in Scripture such as Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Jeremiah 26:2, and Revelation 22: 18-19, is that we are not to add to, nor take away from God’s Word. Christian schools can do just that when they either expand on certain passages or themes beyond what is there, or to change what is there, or neglect certain passages because of fear of controversy or backlash from parents or society.
Two brief examples of degrading the Bible in a Christian school I know are:
- -A Junior High School science teacher decided to just quit teaching anything on the age of the earth because it was too controversial, and he was tired of arguing with parents who say “real science says the age of the earth is over 4 billion years old”.
- -A Christian school passed a policy that no one is to mention the word “hell” because it is considered profanity, and also, God would not condemn a creation He loves to such an awful place.
Christian schools should be more conscious of not offending God and His Word than they are of offending people. Dr. Joel Beeke, President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary said in an on-line video that you cannot excise certain passages of Scripture, such as the (numerous) Bible references to Hell, because it might be offensive or harsh, or you will deny the whole counsel of God.[i]
The “whole counsel of God” is a concept deserving attention and adherence by Christian schools, not just for Pastors or Elders in a church. Christian schools should take the basic elements of the whole counsel of God and weave them into the curriculum of their school purposefully, and with the goal of weaving the “whole counsel of God” into the training (nurture and admonition of the Lord) of their students. Then, as a result, the “whole counsel of God” should be a part of every day life of a properly trained student from your Christian School. “Whole” is the key word, meaning not missing any parts. An analogy would be a house that has all the components of the building except it has no plumbing at all. It is still a house, but without water or functioning toilets, it is lacking a valuable component, and is of little use or value. So use every available opportunity to teach all aspects of God’s Word to students so they are valuable and of great use to God.
What are the basic tenements of the “whole counsel of God”? The best and most concise explanation I have found is the brief commentary on the passage from Acts 20:27 by John MacArthur in the MacArthur’s Study Bible where he says “The entire plan and purpose of God for man’s salvation in all its fullness: divine truths of creation, election, redemption, justification, adoption, conversion, sanctification, holy living, and glorification. Paul strongly condemned those who adulterate the truth of Scripture (2 Cor. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:3, 4; cf. Rev. 22:18, 19).”[ii]
In that Acts 20 passage, Paul was about to leave his three-year ministry to the Ephesians’ Church and move on, but before he left, he made his concerns known where he said in verse 20 “…I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly…”, and from verse 27: “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Then, he explains in verses 28 through 32 why it is so very important to teach the “whole counsel of God”, and even though this is written to elders in the church, please read this with a Christian school in mind, because the same warnings and predictions of Paul for this church apply to a Christian school and students: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Act 20:28-32)
If you do not teach the whole counsel of God, then you are warping students by giving them an incorrect and possibly idolatrous view of God. Ephesians 4:14 says “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,” so it is very important to provide a solid foundation from the Word of God, so your students will not be susceptible or gullible to worldly doctrines that will come along.
It is really a daunting endeavor to teach the whole counsel of God, I know, but that is why it is so important. It is also daunting to explain in this blog what that means, or what it looks like in your classrooms. But at risk of straying too far off the topic at hand, I will offer suggestions anyway:
- Teach about creation, sin and the fall of man, that all people are sinners, God’s penalty of sin, God’s plan of redemption of sin, the reason Jesus came and died, teach about how to be saved, what is a true biblical Christian, what examples of fruit Jesus requires of Christians, teach about hope, fear, love, the character Joseph had, the faith Abraham had, the hope and focus on Christ Paul had, and what caused Judas to betray Jesus.
- Teach how Satan fell, and teach about pride as the root of most all sin.
- Teach about the amazing grace of God, teach about the Holy Spirit, teach how to find passages in the Bible that pertain to any topic, teach how to discern between good and evil, teach that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against unseen powers, teach how to put on the whole armor of God and what each item of that armor is, teach the greatest commandments which is to love God and to love others (and examples of how to do that), teach to be a servant of Jesus, to obey Him, and to trust Him, teach responsibility and how to have a moral compass.
- Teach that God made molecules, light particles, and why people differ from animals, teach the problems with Darwin’s theories compared to God’s truth, teach about the mathematics found in the Bible, teach the literary structure of Proverbs, and the musical and lyrical structure of the Psalms.
- Teach the sciences found in the book of Job, teach the governmental structure of Romans 13, teach the significance to Christianity of the book Pilgrim’s Progress, or the works of CS Lewis, and teach the fulfilled (and yet to be fulfilled) prophecies in the Bible.
- Teach the students’ purpose in life is to serve and glorify God, not vice versa, and so the subjects they learn in school are tools they need to accomplish that purpose.
- Teach students to have a hatred for sin, and to have a love for God’s Word, and that answers to most of life’s issues are found there.
I encourage you to add to that list by leaving a comment below. Also, if you are involved in Christian education, I encourage you to ensure the whole counsel of God is taught.
Lets flip the coin for a minute and mention some examples of what could happen if basic tenements of God’s Word are missed:
- If you teach students that God is love, but do not teach about the fall of man, sin, and the effects of sin, then when a student looses a loved one, for example, they may turn from God because of their lack of knowledge about the effects of sin.
- When you do not teach that Jesus said in this world we will have troubles but to not fear because He has overcome the world, or that trials are tests and teaching tools allowed by God to help those He loves, then a student may not handle troubles or trials well and be overcome by fear or worry.
- If you do not teach what the Bible says about topics such as evolution and what the world says about it, your students will not be able to confidently defend their position on those topics.
- If you do not teach and encourage students to serve and glorify God, they will become materialistic, selfish, and self centered, having an improper view of God.
- If you do not teach the grace and forgiveness of God when a sinner repents, then when a student sins, they may think all is lost, and have no hope.
The whole counsel of God is one of the three most important qualities of a sound Christian school. It is a large and daunting task to ensure its accomplishment in your school, but since I believe it is a requirement of God in your schooling, He will give you the means and tools, the strength and wisdom, and the resources and abilities, to accomplish this quality in your school and students.
A sound Christian school will encompass and teach ALL elements of “the whole counsel of God”, and will not denigrate, add to, or take way any part His Word.
[ii] The MacArthur study Bible, John MacArthur Author and General Editor, New King James Version, Copyright 1997 Word Publishing.