It was my privilege to serve for 25 years as president of the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools (TACS) and eight years prior as vice-president.
I served for 42 years as the founder and president of Fairview Christian Academy. This triple-accredited, including the coveted SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accreditation, academy has provided hundreds of young people with a quality academic education in a family-friendly Christian environment for four decades-plus.
I am often asked the question: Is a Christian school overprotecting our youth from the real world? Christian schools are often compared to “greenhouses” — places that protect seedlings and young plants from undesirable weather conditions. A greenhouse controls the environment for plants until they are strong and mature enough to be transplanted.
The greenhouse analogy is a great way to think about education. As parents, we protect our children as much as possible from undesirable teachings and unfavorable people.
We want them to be strong in the Christian faith when they leave home for college or the workforce or to start a family. The training children receive in the home, church and Christian school during their formative K5-12 school years will prepare them to stand strong in the Christian faith.
Christian schools and strong Bible-believing churches are great allies in helping families achieve this goal.
What is wrong with Christian parents protecting their children from the world’s philosophies? Christian parents want their children to give Christ preeminence in every phase of their lives. So why would an education that shelters children from undesirable influences and teachings not be a part of their protection plan?
Perhaps it is the children in the non-Christian schools who are being overprotected from the real world — a world that honors Christ. Paul Harvey, American journalist and newscaster, described the sheltering of school students from Christ and the Bible:
“Years ago, it was argued that students maturing in a sheltered environment would be like hothouse plants, unprepared for the cold outside world. Now, more and more Americans are realizing that it is in fact the state school student who is overprotected. He is ‘sheltered’ from religious instruction and exposed to all forms of non-Christian philosophy and behavior.”
Christ should have first place in all things.
The word “all” includes education.
A school’s philosophy and the philosophy of its administrators, teachers and students will influence our children to either be more like Christ or to be more like the world.
Religious neutrality is impossible!
The Bible warns Christian families and churches of the danger of embracing Christless philosophies, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ” (emphasis added) (Colossians 2:8).
This warning is loud and clear.
We cannot embrace and live two opposing philosophies of life at the same time.
The Bible says, “No man can serve two masters …” (Matthew 6:24).
The spiritual purpose of a Christian school is to challenge and inspire students to conform their minds to Jesus Christ.
We are to “Let this mind be in you (us), which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
Sadly, Jesus Christ has been expelled from most school classrooms, textbooks and extracurricular activities.
Nowhere in Scripture does the Bible promote the idea of being neutral in our faith.
The Bible never speaks favorably of education without Christ, but it does warn us about being spoiled by the world’s vain deceits and philosophies.
The Bible never speaks favorable of education that rejects Christ, creation, prayer and the Bible.
It is often said that parents who support Christian education are narrow-minded and overprotective of their children.
Actually, sheltering children from potential harm should be a major concern for all Christian parents.
Protection, however, is more than guarding children from physical dangers; it also includes protecting children from erroneous teachings. To ignore the non-Christian influences in the development of our children’s value system and educational training is either spiritual apathy or willful neglect. It stands to reason that what our children see and hear — whether at home, church, school or with their friends — will affect what they think.
Children need protection during their schooling years, just as plants need protection when they are young.
If protecting our children from unchristian influences, humanism, abusive language, sex education, false religious teachings, drugs and rebellious attitudes is overprotection, then let all Christian parents stand guilty as charged.
The price paid when we willfully ignore the dangers of unscriptural indoctrination of our children during those formative early years will definitely come home to haunt generations to follow.
The establishment of a Christian dynasty begins with the cautious and consisatent training of our children emphasizing a Biblical worldview. Progressive, anti-Christian world views and purposeful neutrality concerning Biblical precepts and principles leave the student afloat in a sea of change for a lifetime with no truth-based moorings.
Every person is a tri-part being physical, intellectual and spiritual.
Any system that eliminates proper Bible-based training seriously impairs development in every area.
The chief goal for every parent should be to implement instruction in their children’s lives to know and do the will of our omnipotent, benevolent Creator God.
In a few days, the Fairview Christian Academy will open its doors for its 43rd year of operation. The 36,000-square-foot, ultra-modern, secure facility will again provide quality academic education in a spiritual, family-friendly environment. It is the answer for parents desiring an active role in perpetuating their faith in their children.
Morality, decency and Christian character are infused and integrated in all curriculum regardless of subject matter.
Much has changed since I went to that little country schoolhouse in our West Tennessee farm community, but the basic issues of time and eternity have not changed. Our children are our greatest stewardship and our only earthly possessions we can take to Heaven with us.
The issue is crucial, time is fleeting and the decision is clear.
I covet the experience of a Christian education for every child.
It is important to protect our children.
Dr. Jack Scallions serves as pastor emeritus of Fairview Baptist Church in Athens.