In chapter 6 of The Case for Classical Christian Education, Douglas Wilson takes up a theme that seems missing in many treatments of the philosophy of education: “the Centrality of Worship.”
Several years ago I read a book that purported to be a statement of the Christian worldview. But there was something about this book that separated it from others I had read. The author asserted there was a glaring blind spot in most Christian books about worldview — they glossed over the Trinity, or they at least treated the Trinity as a tertiary truth. The author’s point was that the Trinity is the most essential truth about God and therefore about reality, yet this essential truth got only sideways treatment in many books about worldview. He was attempting to orient his whole statement of the Christian worldview around the Trinity. It was something of a paradigm-changer for me.
Wilson’s treatment on the centrality of worship in education is a paradigm-changer also.
Is not a human essentially a worshiping creature? Are we not created for worship, so that we are bent either toward idolatry or, by God’s grace, toward worship of the true God? We cannot ignore this truth when we begin talking about education, as if education is a tightly sealed, airtight compartment that concerns rational, intellectual, or vocational matters only. Children are worshipers, not just empty containers into whom we pour multiplication tables, principles of grammar, Latin vocabulary, and history facts. Their education leads them toward worship.
In other words, “worship is central to life; therefore, it is central to education for that life.” Wilson makes several salient points.
- Worship is incarnational. “We have to learn how to worship. And then, having worshiped, we are sent out into the world to study it, subdue it, replenish it. But education and learning follow worship and proceed from it.” In other words, “sitting in neat rows in a classroom, doing push-ups with the brain” is not enough — students must learn how to worship in a local church in order to be complete, and in order for their education to cohere into a complete life.
- Worship is centered on Christ. “Jesus Christ is the arche, the One in whom all things hold together (Col 1:18). But Christ is not a mere word we use; Jesus Christ is the Son of God, seated at the right hand of the Father. There is no Christian worldview where He is not present.” And He has promised to be present among the people who worship Him and Him alone. Education in His presence, worshiping Him as Lord, is the only true education. Therefore, “education that does not begin and end in heaven is not true education.”
- Finally, “a classical Christian school will not succeed in its mission unless it has the strong support of a worshiping community.” And let me say at this point how thankful I am for the support Regents Academy receives from the churches of the Nacogdoches community. Our school cannot succeed if it is not linked up with local churches who recognize a common goal of exalting and worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ and who are partnering with parents to train up children in the way they should go.
- One final quote: “The major reason why worship is central concerns the children. Worship is the point of integration for all Christian living, including the living that goes on at the school. When children who are members of the race homo adorans worship God rightly, everything comes together in their lives. When they do not, everything is out of joint.”