PCA Digest
Position Papers: 1973 - 1998

6th General Assembly, 1978, Appendix G, III, p. 209 and 6-75, III, 16-18, p. 88..

HIGHER EDUCATION

The subcommittee on Higher Education of the Assembly's Committee on Christian Education and Publications continued discussion with the Board of Covenant College as directed by the Fifth General Assembly. Particular attention is called to those matters referred to the Committee by the Fifth Assembly.
In response to the Assembly's directive to "draft a definite statement regarding the relationship of the church to non-theological education," the Committee approved the following statements:
Adopted as amended by the 6th GA.

Part Two: Christian Education and Federal Aid

Christians must face the issue of the place of federal aid and federal regulations in Christian education from a clearly Biblical perspective. Individual attitudes toward government are not sufficient basis for deciding this matter. Clear Biblical principles must be our guide. What then does the Bible say about this issue? First, we should see that the primary responsibility for the education of children is given to the parents. Examples of this parental responsibility are seen in Deuteronomy 4 and Deuteronomy 6; indeed throughout Scripture we see the accountability of parents for the training of children. While the Old Testament father might well have hired teachers or relied upon rabbis for teaching he could not personally do, still he was responsible for the training the child received. This parental responsibility for the education of children must not be shirked by the parents nor usurped by the state. While it sounds almost radical in our generation, the Christian parent must stand firmly for the principle of parental responsibility in education and the Christian must stand firmly against state encroachment and compromise of that God-given parental authority and responsibility. We must remember that state controlled public education is comparatively recent (since early 1800's) and parental authority over children's education has been an accepted principle until relatively recent time. Christian parents cannot ignore their God-ordained responsibility for the training of their children without reaping the consequences of such neglect.

Second, it should be noted that while the parents have primary responsibility for the training of children, it is also true that the church and state may have legitimate interest in and contributions toward helping the parents fulfill their responsibility. It should be noted that the priests and the levites were active in teaching the children of believers (e.g., Leviticus 10:11, "And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which Jehovah hath spoken unto them by Moses."; Deuteronomy 17:10-11, "And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall show thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall show thee, to the right hand, nor to the left."; II Chronicles 15:3, Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.") It is also to be noted that the judges and magistrates had an interest in teaching the people (e.g., Deuteronomy 17:10-11, above; Ezra 7:25-26, "And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.") This principle of the interest and contribution of church and state to education in no way abrogates or compromises the principle of parental authority but rather shows the valid help that may be given the parent without encroaching upon the parent's God-given responsibility.

If this indeed gives some Biblical perspective on this issue, how may it then be applied specifically to the place of federal aid and federal regulations in Christian schools? For one thing it should be seen that there may be some legitimate interest in the promotion of education by the state without violating Biblical principle. But it must be clearly maintained that such interest and help must not be allowed to undermine or compromise the Christian parent's responsibility before God for the training of children. In applying this more specifically, it would seem that federal loans and grants to schools for capital funds bring such regulations as could hamper or even compromise the distinctively Christian character of education in Christian schools. Christians must resist the offer of money that might later compromise the character of the Christian education they are seeking for their children in Christian schools. Recognizing that student aid, especially loans from a secular institution, may raise questions of individual conscience, the General Assembly urges each student in consultation with his parents to search out the Biblical principles which may apply to his specific situation. On the other hand it seems that in principle, federal grants and loans to the students administered through the school are a legitimate means of the state's promotion of education which at this time does not threaten to compromise the distinctive character of Christian schools. Even this however should be carefully monitored so that Christian schools not become so enthralled by this indirect aid as to later become unable to resist compromise should regulatory pressure be applied in this area. Furthermore, the Church must be aware of her responsibility in promoting the advancement of higher Christian Education through various forms of student aid.