A Christian Education is What?
Even a brief attempt to answer the question of the title should prove fruitful. As we make this attempt, we recognize certain facts. We live in a time when the opposition to serious thought is great. Superficiality, bred of a hasty civilization so busy manipulating gadgets that it has little time for culture, is a characteristic of our times. Television, smart phones, iPods, tablets, YouTube, the pabulum of tabloid newspapers, internet sites, and risqué magazines are not conducive to hard thinking. In an age in which the watchword is “internet generation,” there is decreasing appreciation of things that really stretch the mind. Trying to be the best in school or working hard and diligently in a homeschool is seen as not “cool,” but being tolerant of everyone else is praised as a virtue. Even the sloth or homosexual is politically correct and accepted.
It is perfectly plain that the Christian public has not escaped this trend. One of the symptoms of its conformity to the spirit of the age is its attitude toward education. Yes, Christians support Christian schools and homeschools, but they support them while showing comparatively little understanding of the value of sound, challenging learning. If we want our children to have a God-centered worldview, the foundations must be laid in early youth. The education must be different from that which you and I likely experienced. We all want better for our children. Unfortunately, there are not secrets to success that bypass hard work. Many hours of dedication are needed to accomplish excellence in every endeavor. We must expect an outstanding Christian education to “outwork” the competition. There are no dreams of “wake-up” miracles guaranteeing an exceptional education for our children. I hope you understand these truths about the education with Veritas Press Scholars and your child’s education.
Lacking appreciation for the broad strategy of Christian education, our Christian public is more taken with a school’s outward manifestations than with its main business. The Christian education business is, and always will be, nothing less than the development of sound learning for the glory of God. For young people, education is preparation for life service, which means doing God’s will. Preparation itself is work, and the student who, to the glory of God, does first-rate work in English or mathematics serves the Lord just as much as the student who engages in outside Christian activities. To speak bluntly, too many evangelicals manifest contentment with intellectual mediocrity.
Remember, we are preparing our children to go into the world to win the world. They are not to be slaughtered by or conformed to the world. How we prepare them for this task is the essence of what we are doing. We must train them with vigor; using subject knowledge as grist for the mill, this hardening their bodies and sharpening their minds, therefore equipping them for battle. We do not apologize. We do not surrender. We attack with knowledge, truth, and disciplined minds that can articulate eloquently a biblical worldview that will bring glory to God the Father.
If God be for us, then who can be against us! We want to create an environment in which students are learning to defend their faith and to answer challenges by engaging and sparring with each other in a protective environment. A sparring partner is to use the same tactics against you as you would see in a real fight. An experienced coach provides guidance as one learns different offenses and defenses for a battle. The best defense or offense is used to counter an aggressive opponent. We want to teach the students, as well as have them teach each other, the execution of a well-planned argument. It is in this environment that we are using the skills of the trivium at its best. Grammar includes the fundamentals (who, when, where) of any subject, even in a sport. For example, solid base, footwork, left jab, right cross, and duck. (Duck, that’s one I didn’t master too well. A broken nose was a reminder of that costly mistake.) Dialectic would include the recognition (what, why, how) of different attacks or defenses which have been used in history, and strengths and weaknesses of each. Rhetoric is them being able to apply the right attacks or defenses at the right time with gusto. We want our children to exit their education prepared to run the race to win.
It is true that, as Bible-believing Christians, we look for the coming of the Lord. But by the same token we know that He may delay His coming far beyond our time. We have then the obligation to occupy this station well for His glory until He comes. To do this we need leadership that is both consecrated and intellectual, leadership that is integrated both in mind and spirit with the truth of God in Scripture, in nature, in science, in literature, in art, and in all of life. This is a main function of our Christian education. Christian teaching and scholarship go together. They are indispensable. If the evangelical faith is to reach the present generation we must declare that secular knowledge and biblical truths are united.
Cassiodorus (remember Cassiodorus?), Cappella, and Augustine were the first ones to apply Aristotle’s seven liberal arts from secular knowledge to a Christian education. Augustine said, “It is like what the Israelites did when they left Egypt and took all their gold with.” We take what God has revealed to pagans and give due recognition to the One who created it. Cassiodorus does a great job of defining a biblical worldview: “But let us who sincerely long to enter heaven through intellectual exertions believe that God disposes all things in accordance with His will, and let us reject and condemn the vanities of the present life and carefully investigate the books of Divine Scripture in their normal order, so that by referring all things to the glory of the Creator we may profitably assign to that which men have seemed to seek vainly for the sake of mortal praise.” And therefore, as the blessed Augustine and other very learned church fathers said, secular writings should not be spurned. It is proper, however, as Scripture states, to meditate in the law day and night, for though a worthy knowledge of worldly matters is to some advantage, God’s word is the source of eternal life.
Let us stop being on the defensive. We should never drop our head and say under our breath that our children are homeschooled or attend Veritas Press Scholars Academy. Ours is a view of Scripture, ours is a view of theology, and ours is a view of life that is in the mainstream of Christian history. It demands not apology, but bold presentation. Our task is not only to outlive and out serve those who do not stand for God’s truth; it is also, by God’s grace to “out think” them!
Larry R. Stephenson
Dr. Stephenson is the Superintendent of Veritas Press Scholars Academy and has worked in classical Christian education as the Superintendent of Cary Christian School and Grammar School Principal of Logos School. He and his wife, Kelly, have three daughters and a son. Their son and youngest daughter are students at VPSA.
Next month is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I asked Ned Bustard, our graphic artist, to create some projects you can use with your children surrounding the history of this tragic event. We hope you find these helpful. Click here to access them.
Free Book with March Order
In keeping with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, we have a special guest author discussion coming up in April, so you’ll want to read this title in advance of that event. Look for details about the discussion in Announcements below. With orders of $50 or more in the month of March you may ask to receive a free copy of Robert Plant’s Titanic: The Ship of Dreams. Simply ask for the “Titanic Book Special.” If you place your order on our web site, you may click here or enter item #902209 on the Express Order page and click Add to Order. (One per family.)
Q. Most of the materials I am planning to use come with a teacher guide. What would be the benefit of using scripted lesson plans? That seems like more than I need.
A. Thanks for a great question! Teacher guides are often just that, a guide. Typically, they contain answers to questions/problems/exercises and they tell you the writer’s suggested method of using the material. Our scripted lesson plans go a step further and do the annual planning for you. When you pick up the lesson plans, it tells you not only what lesson you will cover on a particular day, but also exactly how to do the lesson. In many cases, it will give you words to say to pique your child’s curiosity and then tell you exactly what to cover, what to review, what to have your child complete outside of the time spent directly with you. Customers who purchase the plans praise both the time saved and the initial flexibility in choosing the level for each subject so they are truly customized. Take a look here to learn more.
Q. I am considering having my oldest child begin taking math courses online. However, we have been using Saxon for math and I see that you don’t use Saxon books after Pre-Algebra. I really don’t want my son to change. Have you ever considered having Saxon classes for higher levels of math?
A. Thanks for asking. We have heard from many customers the same concern, so you will be happy to know that we’ve added courses just for you. Starting this fall, we will also offer Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II which use Saxon as the text. Click on the titles to learn more, and tell your friends. We still prefer Jacobs Algebra and Geometry and Foerster Algebra II, but the Saxon courses are sure to be popular, as well.
Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online Course Registration for 2012-13
Registration for online courses in Veritas Press Scholars Academy (VPSA) for Fall 2012 (and Summer, too) has been going on since the beginning of February. Our explosive growth in our live teacher-led courses has been both exciting and a little hectic. You'll see some new offerings alongside the standards you've come to expect. If you haven’t looked into these, don’t hesitate—they fill up fast. Registration details and the list of course offerings are posted here.
Titanic Book Author Discussion Event
On Thursday, April 5 at 8:00 pm ET, Veritas Press will hold a special event and you’re invited. April 14, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Though the story is well known from movies such as The Unsinkable Molly Brown and a bit more recently, Titanic, there is more to the story that is rarely told. Robert Plant has written a book which recounts the final hours of a Christian hero who was on board. We’re offering the book, Titanic: The Ship of Dreams, as our free offer in a section above. Watch your e-mail for details of how to attend this very special discussion with Robert Plant in one of our online classrooms.
Veritas Press In-A-Week Courses
Don't miss our “In-A-Week” adult education courses which are planned for this summer. These intensive classes are geared to teachers or parents. We are offering Latin and several levels of Omnibus classes—all taught online by outstanding teachers with considerable expertise in the material. What better way to prepare yourself to teach these courses or just learn the material for your own edification? Please be encouraged to join us for these great opportunities.
For more information and to register, visit www.veritaspress.com.
Omnibus II In-A-Week June 11-15 Graham Dennis
Latin In-A-Week June 18-22 Joanna Hensley
Omnibus III In-A-Week June 18-22 Graham Dennis
Omnibus I In-A-Week June 25-29 Bruce Etter
Opening of a New Position at Veritas Press
We are looking to hire a Vice President of Marketing and Development to work from our home office in Lancaster, Pa. In addition to being a mature Christian, the ideal candidate will have considerable experience in contemporary forms of marketing (especially social media), be an effective fundraiser, possess a love for classical Christian education, and be knowledgeable about Veritas Press. Résumés should be submitted to email@example.com.
Teaching and Consultant Openings with Veritas Press Scholars Academy
Receiving résumés for Online Teachers and Diploma Consultants!—We have needs for experienced teachers for the 2012 academic year. Teachers can work from home, the beach, or anywhere high-speed internet is available. Send teacher résumé to Bruce Etter.
Interesting Facts about Veritas Press
Our question for February was, “Course registration for online classes opened on February 1st at 12:01 AM EST. How many registrations occurred during the first hour of registration?" Submitting the closest answer was Serena Shedore of El Paso, TX, who guessed 275. The correct answer was 295.
Our question for March is, “As of December 31, 2011, what 3 states had the most enrollees in our Diploma Program?” Tiebreaker: rank your 3 choices, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
The first person to e-mail the correct or closest answer by March 15, 2012, 5:00 PM (ET) to firstname.lastname@example.org will receive a $25 gift certificate.
Visit us on the web at VeritasPress.com or call us at 1-800-922-5082.
Browse the Veritas Press virtual catalog online!