Introduction to Founded Upon a Rock
Numerous books displayed on bookstore shelves outline various education techniques, styles, methods and pedagogy. Some portray the field of education from a pagan standpoint (many simply call it “humanism”), while others show views from different religions and cultures, including a “Christian” worldview. Many of these books contain some good principles, but none seem to present Baptist views from a truly Baptist perspective.
Our Baptist churches, schools, and colleges need books covering many doctrinal issues, solidly stating the doctrines which set us apart as Baptists. There is a great need for Baptist books on educational methodology, teaching styles and techniques, but the purpose of this book is to lay out the underlying philosophy of education. We must first understand the “why” of education before we can tackle the “how” and “what” of education. By understanding the “why”, we lay the solid foundation necessary before the building can be erected, and this building must be founded upon a rock.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)
This book approaches the philosophy of education by starting with the importance of it. If we do not understand the importance of something, we will not be able to put it into its proper place. We must first have a vision for education and realize the condemnation placed on having a lack of knowledge. The first two chapters deal with these Biblical principles, showing how they apply to every area of our lives, especially as we look at education.
The third and fourth chapters deal with the different philosophies and teachings regarding education. Chapter 3 primarily discusses the public school system, some philosophies regarding it, and the true reason public education is absolutely not the choice for us as Baptists. Chapter 4 exposes some of the philosophies behind the Christian and home school movements throughout the past forty or fifty years. Bill Gothard, R. J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Gary DeMar, Donald Howard, and others have laid much of the groundwork and established many of the principles and practices in the Christian school movement; their philosophies and practices are strongly rooted in Reformed (Augustinian/Calvinistic) doctrine. The casual observer will miss their subtle ways and be led astray, so we must be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8).
Part Two examines both the current foundation (Chapter 5) and the foundation that should be laid and built upon (Chapter 6). Chapter 7 then explains in further detail the Biblical teachings about authority, comparing and contrasting the three main institutions ordained by God – the home, the church, and civil government.
The third part sets forth five foundational principles: (1) the authority of the Bible, (2) the preeminence of Christ, (3) the leading of the Spirit, (4) the practicality to the student, and (5) the responsibility of the teacher. The basic Bible teachings of each of these is defined and then properly applied to education.
The fourth part looks at specific subject areas and the importance of setting balanced goals regarding each of those areas. By far, spiritual goals are the most important of all the goals, and they require the most prayer and attention. The focus must be on teaching students about salvation, winning each one to Christ, teaching the Bible thoroughly and accurately, finding and doing the will of God, and training in godly character.
The academics and electives are divided and prioritized in chapters 14 and 15. The primary academic studies are English (which would include reading, writing and grammar, spelling, research skills, and speech communication), History and Geography, Mathematics, and Science. These probably demand the most time and attention of the school day. The other academic subjects and courses of study fall below these in their importance.
Social and civic goals are discussed in chapter 16. These must be kept in their proper place, not like the public schools which place socialization as their primary goal. The public schools also twist the social aspect of education to place people in particular positions within society. Our goal, Biblically, would be to teach and train the students how to correctly interact with others.
The last part of the book, chapter 17, is a concise outline of the philosophy of Baptist Christian Education. Due to the detailed explanations and proofs throughout this book, this philosophy is a list of ten principles that are simply stated with only a brief explanation.
One’s theological system of interpreting the whole of Scripture will define the methods by which they follow in carrying out what they believe to be the will of God. It truly does matter what a person believes, because what someone believes will determine their actions. These actions, although pleasing or not pleasing to God, also have an effect on those around us.
J. S. Davenport, Appendix B