Every year around this time, I have the privilege of soliciting student feedback in secondary classrooms. Recently the juniors and seniors provided great feedback about their theology class. One of the things they appreciate is the emphasis on the Bible. Even though the class itself is focused on historical church doctrines, much of the class time is spent in the Bible, as all Christian doctrine must begin with God’s Word. While it wasn’t a surprise to hear the feedback (one of our primary goals in Bible class is to read, explore, and spend time in God’s Word), I was encouraged that the students themselves view this as positive.
Sadly, in Christian schools, and even in some classical, Christian schools, this isn’t always the case. Three interesting data points help frame this observation:
- In speaking with an administrator from a local Christian school two years ago, we discussed how our schools approach the topic of homosexuality. His concern was how to handle manifestations of the issue in the school (e.g. student-related issues, classroom discussions, etc.). When I asked what the school position was on the topic of homosexuality vis-à-vis the Bible, he responded that they don’t take a position for or against homosexuality. Even in their Bible classes, they allowed various viewpoints on this topic with no official school position. I must admit I was a bit stunned. Of course, the truth is that they do take a position, and that position would necessarily guide school decisions.
- At a recent accreditation visit to a faithful classical, Christian school in the ACCS, the accreditation team noticed a gap in the Bible program. The school had chosen to integrate the Bible into various subjects, but they only offered Bible every other year in middle and high school; even then, it was often combined with another subject such as rhetoric. While integration is commendable, the accreditation team noted the systematic teaching of the Bible and the study of God’s Word was somewhat lacking in this curricular approach.
- Just a few weeks ago I received an email from a Providence graduate. He wrote, in part, “I realized that for all five of the Bible minor courses at [my school], each of them is covered to an equal or greater extent at Providence—at least in time if not in depth as well… I have learned a lot from these classes and from our professors. But as I was considering how little time [my school] spends on this content compared to Providence, I was moved to gratitude for the Bible classes at Providence. This realization is not that [my school] is doing anything wrong necessarily, but that Providence provided a significant gift in its faithful and systematic teaching of the Bible. Thank you for what you and the staff at Providence do to provide this for students.”
The last data point was such an encouragement to our Bible teachers and to me in affirming our commitment to providing a robust education centered on God’s Word. I recall a story I heard from another graduate nearly fifteen years ago. In her Bible class at her Christian university, she was using terminology gleaned from the Providence Bible classes, and she had fellow students ask her where she learned all those fancy words! She too expressed thanks for the Providence education (and her parents and church as well) for preparing her with a robust background in the Scriptures.
Since its inception, Providence has prioritized the teaching of the Bible as our “authoritative rule for faith and practice” as is stated in our mission statement. Few things are more important than teaching the inspiration of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) and the supremacy of Christ (Colossians 1:15). As parents, we will sadly fail our children, but God’s Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11) and we can trust that while the grass withers and the flowers fade, the Word of our God shall stand forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).