A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
12th September 2004
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Today we celebrate Education Sunday in the shadow of international terrorism. The Beslan atrocity has shocked the world. Education was never meant to be like this.
Education is one of great benefits of God to mankind. We have the privilege of sharing learning with each other. Parents with children, teachers with students, adults with each other and children with adults - we can all learn from each other and with each other.
From the earliest days of European settlement in Australia, Christians have been active in public education. Christians created the first public schools of the colony. Since the late nineteenth century universal education had become the goal of every government. All children should have the opportunity of a publicly accessible education.
Yet responsibility for the education of children remains primarily that of the parents. Theirs is the decision of where the child should receive public education. More importantly, they teach their children how to live in this world. Christian parents have the added responsibility of teaching their children how to live in the world to come.
Important as education is for both this world and the world to come, it is the sovereign work of God’s Spirit in the lives of our children that transforms them into citizens of God’s Kingdom. Thus the most important part of Christian parenting is prayer.
Frequently our society expresses unrealistic expectations of the power of education. This overloads the curriculum of public education, for it seeks to find the solution to every social problem in the classroom. It is felt that if somehow we better educated our children (or more commonly other peoples’ children) that they would not act in an anti-social manner.
However this is a failure in the diagnosis of the human condition. There is a foolishness bound up in the heart of the youth. There is a need for information in order to make informed adult decisions and choices. There is a maturation of thinking processes that is necessary to complete before responsible decisions can be made. But the problems of our society are not those of lack of education. The problems stem from the perversion of the human will.
The problems of our society come from human sinfulness. And that is not a matter of lack of information - nor of lack of thinking processes. Very clever and very informed sinners are still sinners. Educated sinners! Sinfulness is a matter of the heart’s intention. It is found in us all. It is given different expression by clever and educated people. But it is the same disease.
No form of public education can eradicate this problem. No form of Christian education can inoculate a child against this problem. It is the work of God in the heart using the words of the gospel that transforms the person. That is why education is so important but insufficient. And it is why prayer is the most important part of parenting and educating.