Mr. Bruce VanSolkema is a member of the Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church and a former member of the Board of Heritage Christian School, Hudsonville, MI.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou riseth up.
The basis for covenant Christian education is the triune God, Father; Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed to us in the Bible, the Word of God. The Trinity is the deepest reason why God is a covenant God and lives a covenant life within Himself, a life of friendship and fellowship. God by His covenant of grace takes us into that fellowship and friendship and establishes that covenant with us through His Son, Jesus Christ. We, therefore, by God’s grace, as members of that covenant, must fulfill certain demands of that covenant, namely, faith and obedience in our Savior, Jesus Christ.
We are to do this in every sphere of life in the place in which God has put us. We are to establish Christian homes in which husband and wife reflect that glorious covenant relationship between Christ and His church (
); we are to bring forth the children of God’s covenant and teach them the ways of Jehovah (
); we are to train our children in covenant schools in which the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom; we are to live holily and righteously in every part of life to the praise of the God of our salvation (God’s Everlasting Covenant of Grace, by Prof. Herman Hanko, p. 196).
The answer is simply that all those who are in the covenant share a part in the responsibility and privilege of the support of covenant Christian education. We call this “corporate” covenantal responsibilities. Corporate means “shared by all the members of a unified group.” This means that in all spheres of life, namely the home, church, and school, there is a responsibility, as the third question in the Baptism Form asks, “whether you promise and intend to see these children,, when come to years of discretion (whereof you are either parent or witness) instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help or cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of your power?”
1. By the home. Fathers and mothers have the primary duty to teach their children. In Psalm 78:5-7 we read: “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” Parents are to see to it that their children are taught and instructed in the doctrines contained in the Old and New Testaments and in the Articles of the Christian faith which are the true and complete doctrine of salvation in Jesus Christ our Savior. They are to see to it that they are taught in the Christian schools where “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). They should also make every effort possible to afford this education by not making luxuries of life become necessities to which they cling. Unmarried young people, those couples who do not have children, and all older people and grandparents share in this responsibility to support this cause by their prayers and by their gifts. This also means that we should desire to become members of the area school societies and to participate in those society meetings. We should also remember that the calling to fulfill these demands continues as long as we live, for the covenant continues from generation to generation until Christ returns.
2. By the church. The church institute has an important part in “Covenant Christian Education” for she must be faithful in instructing her members about our covenant and triune God and in the demands that He places with those in that covenant of grace. The minister as the mouthpiece and servant of Jesus Christ must show the congregation the pathway to faith and obedience in Christ as they fulfill those demands. Article 21 of the Church Order states that “the Consistories shall see to it that there are good Christian Schools in which the parents have their children instructed according to the demands of the covenant.” This means that our Consistories must promote the organization and proper maintenance of good Christian day schools by believing parents, and must urge the members of our churches to use these schools for the education of their God-entrusted children.
3. By the school. The parent-run school has the privilege to participate actually and physically in the educational process in the instruction of the covenant children. We must realize that these schools are an extension of the home and, therefore, ought to be controlled and run by covenant parents. These schools must hire competent teachers who are totally devoted to instructing covenant children in the fear of the LORD in every area of the curriculum taught in the school. The school board must make Christian education affordable to all those who desire it for their children, so that some are not forced to look at home schooling as an option. This means that certain sacrifices have to be made by all of us in order to accomplish this. Let us remember that money, by itself, does not make quality education, but stewardship of that money and commitment does.
Do you want to have “covenant” Christian education for our children today and tomorrow? Are we robbing God when we do not support the cause of Christian education required in the demands of the covenant? Let us all meditate on Malachi 3:10, where God commands us, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”