Philosophy of Christian Education
The goal of Christian education, as defined by John Milton, is “to repair the ruin of our first parents by regaining to know God aright and out of that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him.” Toward that end, the mission of Heritage Academy is to help parents send out educated servants of Jesus Christ by blending the best of home with the best of college-preparatory education.
The basis of Christian education is the Bible, God’s authoritative, inspired Word (I Cor. 2:13; II Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; II Peter 1:20-21).
Heritage Academy’s Christian philosophy of education pre-supposes God’s existence, recognizes God as creator of all that is, and acknowledges God as the source of all truth (John 14:6; Col. 2:3).
There is no dichotomy between secular and religious truth. All truth is God’s truth. Knowledge begins with the fear of God (Prov. 1:7). Because God is the source of all truth, the universe and the Christian’s study of it are coherent, and we may speak of the “universal scope” of God’s truth.
Education of children is the responsibility of their parents, not of the state (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 6:6-7; Eph. 6:4; II Tim. 3:15). It is parents who authorize and invite the Christian school to become partners in the biblical education of their children.
Christian education proceeds from a set of assumptions derived from the Scriptures, which addresses man’s fundamental questions about reality, knowledge and ethics. These biblical assumptions run counter to man-centered assumptions (Rom. 1:18-23; I Cor. 1:20; Col. 2:8):
Application and Integration
The primary challenge of Christian education may not be in securing agreement on its foundations but in applying those foundations to the educating of students. Only then is faith integrated with learning and every thought brought into captivity “to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5, KJV).
As Frank Gaebelein summarized:
It is one thing to take for ourselves the premise that all truth is God’s truth. It is another thing to build upon this premise an effective educational practice that shows the student the unity of truth and that brings alive in his heart and mind the grand concept of a Christ who ‘is the image of the invisible God,’by whom ‘al things were created,’ who ‘is before all things,’ and by whom ‘all things consist,’ or hold together.
Heritage Academy is committed to presenting the integrating faith principle (of man’s need for grace and the personal, universal story of God’s eternal, redemptive work) in such a way that all subjects are unified in a coherent whole. When students understand and embrace this unifying principle – when they, through the working of God’s grace in cooperation with Christian teachers and parents, begin to understand the universal scope of God’s truth, then the accomplishing of one of the primary aims of education is begun: Students learn to think, that is, to relate what is learned in one class to the information gained in another and to apply such learning to their life outside the classroom.
As it teaches students to come to grips with this integration, Heritage Academy embraces additional educational assumptions, based in Scripture, about the nature of the student, the nature of the teacher, and the content to be learned. Those assumptions result in definite implications for Heritage Academy’s home and classroom teachers.
When parents agree with, teach from, and construct family life in harmony with biblical principles; when classroom teachers adhere to them, using them as a framework for the communication of truth within their disciplines; and when students are lovingly, consistently and incrementally challenged to embrace the integrating principle from which the principles are derived, education is truly Christian. An educational partnership is forged with parents in their endeavor to carry out the biblical mandate to teach children to “[l]ove the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, NIV).
The Nature of the Student
All persons, including students, were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; James 3:9). Intrinsic to the image of God is the capacity for rationality, or reason, inherent in Christ as the Logos (John 1:1), who Himself is the expression of God’s person (Heb. 1:3). The teacher and student came from the same fallen race, and as image-bearers, the unregenerate sinner and the redeemed alike have true dignity. Students at Heritage Academy are taught, encouraged, and disciplined in accordance with that God-endowed dignity.
Man is born sinful, and, as a result of the fall, his reason is corrupted, he is “vain in his imaginations” and his heart is “darkened” (Rom. 1:21, KJV). But when Christ has redeemed a person, he becomes a new creation (II Cor. 5:17), aided by the Holy Spirit in the discernment of spiritual truth (I Cor. 2:14-16). He is given eternal life (Rom. 6:23) and experiences the true liberty that accompanies the life-giving presence of the Spirit of God (II Cor. 3:17). Students at Heritage Academy are consistently presented with the fact of man’s sinfulness and the hope-filled truth of the Gospel in all its redemptive power (John 3:16; Romans 1:16).
Scripture rejects the Socratic notion that the cause of evil is ignorance and the solution is education (Rom. 5:12; Titus 3:5). Regardless of the rightness and sincerity of their efforts, neither teachers nor parents bring about the redemption and sanctification of students. Educational partners plant and water, but God gives the increase (I Cor. 3:5-8). At Heritage Academy, all constituents are called to pray for the redemption and growth of students and the faithfulness of their families.
Students are multi-faceted. Although Heritage Academy is a discipleship ministry, intending to aid Christian families as they make disciples of their Christian students, some students come to the school in need of redemption; all need wisdom, physical training, moral development, emotional maturity, instruction in scholarship, and formation of godly habits (Phil. 1:6; Matt. 28:19-20; Prov. 9:10; II Tim. 2:15; Eph. 4:22-32; Phil. 1:9-10). The consistent presentation of God’s truth, universal in its scope, challenges students to apply the truth of Scripture to their development as whole persons.
Students are not equally endowed with intellectual aptitude or artistic skill. God is glorified when every student is educated up to his or her capacities. The role of the Christian school is not to ensure equality of outcome, but to require students to be industrious with the talents God has given them (Matt. 25:14-30; Prov. 31:17; John 17:4). Students will have a natural aversion to hard work, but because they are made in God’s image and are endowed by Him with dignity, the school must require them to be diligent (Prov. 18:9; Col. 3:23). Students are motivated with a balance of positive encouragement and discipline.
The Nature of the Teacher
In its effort to achieve the integration of faith with learning, and to show students the unity of truth under God, Heritage Academy is committed to authenticity in teaching. This authenticity is two-fold, and a failure in either aspect undermines genuine biblical education with a hypocrisy students are quick to detect. Teachers must be mature believers in Jesus Christ, and they must be qualified to teach.
Only an authentic, knowledgeable, disciple of Jesus Christ can lead students toward Christ as the embodiment of Truth and the one whose infinite character is the reference point for the integration of faith and learning (Luke 6:39-40). Teachers in the Heritage Academy community, at home and in the classroom, are to be authentic believers in Jesus Christ; filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18); demonstrating biblical maturity (Heb. 5:12-14); examples to the believers (I Tim. 4:12-13); constantly on guard against the introduction of false doctrine into their teaching (II Tim. 3:16-17); lovers of wisdom (I Cor. 2:7; 3:19); and moment-by-moment demonstrators of biblical love (I Cor. 13).
An extension of the above assumption is the requirement that classroom teachers be qualified as teachers to teach their subject matter to their students. This qualification is three-fold: first, a fully qualified classroom teacher must be sufficiently trained in his academic specialty (Luke 6:39-40).
Second, a qualified classroom teacher must have a demonstrated aptitude for teaching, as well as the desire and ability to relate to students the universal scope of God’s truth, soberly considering the scriptural warning that teachers are held by God to a higher standard (Rom. 12:4-8; James 3:1).
Finally, a qualified classroom teacher will openly love his subject. It is “hypocrisy to require students to learn what obviously bores the teacher.” A teacher who loves his subject will be sensitive to awakening the interest and delight of his students and set an academic example for them, cultivating his own interest by continually learning about his subject matter.
The Content to be Learned
When school personnel and families agree about and act on a biblical education’s foundational principles, the school’s curriculum will reflect those biblical assumptions, both in content and in teaching method.
Course content at Heritage Academy reflects and, often, directly presents God’s special revelation to man (scriptural truth about the ultimate questions of life). This special revelation includes God as the creator of all things, Christ as sustainer and redeemer of all things, and the Holy Spirit as revealer of all things.
Naturally, course content at Heritage Academy will contain much instruction in general revelation (“the truth about human beings in relation to God, themselves, others, and God’s creation”). This instruction in general revelation is characterized by three distinctive features.
First, course content is consistent with the biblical truth that God created the world in seven, literal days. As a being created in the image of God, man, therefore, has purpose; God’s Word is recognized as inspired, infallible, authoritative, and inerrant in all matters, including science; and God’s Word is taken literally.
Second, high standards of scholarship and the development in students of a rigorous personal work ethic characterize the curriculum (Mark 12:30; Eph. 5:16; I Thess. 4:11-12; II Tim. 2:15; I John 1:6).
Third, the curriculum provides the Heritage Academy student with a liberal arts education, versus a vocational one, preparing him for success in college and a lifetime of thoughtful service to God. Gordon H. Clark explains the benefits of a liberal arts education:
Instead of turning man into a machine, it aims to prevent him from becoming one. The liberal arts
tend to make the student independent of pills and television. . . . The student does not learn to do, he
learns to understand. If successful, he becomes a rational man, instead of an over-age dependent
child in need of amusement.
Heritage Academy emphasizes the fixed, final and eternal nature of truth embodied in Christ, a solid foundation for the liberal arts curriculum (John 1:14; 14:6).
Properly understood, [Christian Education] is a preparation for those students who have not yet received the grace of God, and it is godly instruction for those who have.
Written by Heritage Board member
John Milton, Areopagitica and Of Education (Northbrook, IL: AHM Publishing, 1951), p. 59.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, The Pattern of God’s Truth: The Problems of Integration in Christian Education (Colorado Springs, CO:
Purposeful Design Publications, 1994), in A Passion for Learning: A History of Christian Thought on Education, D. Bruce Lockerbie,
ed., (Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications, 2007), p. 329.
 Chris Schlect, Scriptural Worldview Thinking, in Repairing the Ruins: The Classical and Christian Challenge to Christian Education,
Douglas Wilson, ed. (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1996), p. 50-51.
 Schlect, 52-55.
 D. Bruce Lockerbie, A Passion for Learning: A History of Christian Thought on Education (Colorado Springs, CO: purposeful Design
Publications, 2007), p. 388-89.
 Schlect, 56-57.
 Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1986), p. 110.
 Douglas Wilson, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Wheaton,
IL: Crossway Books, 1991), p. 63.
 Wilson, 74.
 Wilson, 79.
 Timothy C. Evearitt, Ed.D., Leading a Christian School: A Book for Administrators and Board Members (Lookout
Mountain, GA: The Center for the Advancement of Christian Education, 1996), p. 39.
 Henry M. Morris, Education for the Real World (San Diego, CA: Creation Life Publishers, 1977), p. 24.
 Evearitt, 39.
 Clark, 168.
 Clark, 169-170.
 Wilson, 76.