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A Brief Introduction to Classical Christian Education

News--Classical Christian School

Within the word “educate” is a hidden story that takes us all the way back to the ancient Roman Empire, and then to the Greeks, and even further back to the ancient Hebrews. The word comes from two Latin words: ex and ducare. When put together, they mean “to lead out.”

The Greek philosopher Plato described education as the process of liberating mankind from a prison of darkness, staring at shadows and thinking they were real, to being led out into the sun to see all that was actually true, good, and beautiful. The Apostle Peter, quoting from the book of Deuteronomy, reminded the early Christians that they were “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that they may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” When the plot of education is lost, the stakes in education are high: lie vs. truth, ugliness vs. beauty, prison vs. freedom, darkness vs. light. As St. Philip’s plans a new classical Christian school, our prayer is that this story of education will best prepare, protect, and lead out the next generation to proclaim the excellencies of Him who calls.

Scripture is replete with instruction about why, how, and what we should teach the next generation. One of my favorite education metaphors comes from Psalm 1. The blessed man is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

 

In Isaiah 61:3-4, we read “that they [God’s people] may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.” We all desire our children to be mighty men and women who build up—and even rebuild—our families, city, state, and nation for the glory of God! So how does the story of classical Christian education help fulfill this vision?

Classical education began in Ancient Greece and was then adapted by the Romans. If you’ve ever heard people say  that the Greeks built civilization, it is because of their extraordinary educational culture. They recognized that the purpose of school was to build liberated thinking people—people who could recognize and understand all that is Good, Beautiful and True—who could then use that knowledge and wisdom in virtuous service to their fellow man. Education became a lifetime commitment. While we can go see the ruins of classical Greek and Roman buildings, their civilization is alive and well in the form of our governments (and even in many of our government buildings), in the principles of liberty and free speech we hold so dear, in our language, and most importantly in their literature that still shapes who we are today!

Classical Christian education started when the early Church Fathers recognized the potency for discipleship when classical education was brought into alignment with Christ. Christians believe that Christ is the source of all Goodness, all Beauty, and that He is Truth itself. To know Him, we must love Him with our heart, mind, and strength, and we must use that love for Him to enable us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Greeks had devised an educational culture that was unparalleled in cultivating the mind and the character of its students, and now Christians would utilize this education with Scripture as the guide for Truth. This combination worked beautifully! If you think of the “giants of the faith” or the mighty men and women of valor that you admire most who lived between the years of Christ’s resurrection until the early 1900s, many of them would have received some form of classical Christian education.

While the plot of education may have become muddled over the last hundred years, today there is a growing movement of classical Christian schools recovering the old story of education. Graduates of these schools are able not only to matriculate at the finest educational institutions in the world and become leaders in their professions, but more importantly, many are also virtuous men and women who are living lives that resemble “fruitful trees” and “oaks of righteousness.” They are joyfully proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called them out of darkness into light.

St. Philip’s is planning a classical Christian school where we hope to offer students this majestic story of education. More information about the specifics of what this school may look like will be forthcoming in future inSPIRE articles.

Please join us in praying for the planning efforts for the school and in supporting the Shine the Light Capital Campaign. The congregation is now $1.575 million away from reaching the first goal of the campaign—raising $16.4 million for restoration of the historic campus, including expansion of the Parish House. Once this first goal is met, all additional funds will support the school and the upfit of the church’s building at Cumberland and State Streets to house the school. If you have not done so already, please make a pledge or donation to the Shine the Light Campaign. Stay tuned for more information about the school, and please keep the planning efforts in your prayers.

Click the link below to watch a video about classical Christian education.

Pledge forms and online giving information are available here.

Classical Christian Education video