I took a telephone call a few years ago from a parent looking to enroll her child in our school. When I asked her to tell me a bit about her child, she indicated that he had been in and out of some rather serious trouble. Some of her expectations had me concerned, so I asked how she heard about our school. She indicated that some of her friends had looked online for a reform school and our name popped up. We agreed that our school was not going to meet her son’s needs. After our call, I wondered how many other people misunderstand what it means to be a school birthed out of the Reformed tradition.
To start, I offer an explanation provided by Bernard Zylstra in the preface to The Relation of the Bible to Learning (Runner, Paideia Press, 1982, ppg 30-31):
The distinctive trait of the reformed confessional vision consists in the all-inclusive way in which creation, sin, and redemption are understood. Everything that exists- in nature, culture, and society- is founded in creation, is affected by sin, and is in need of redemption.
Creation is the theater of God's Glory…. From the outset, God the Father established an all-embracing covenant with His creation- a covenant of divine love on one hand and creaturely praise on the other.... That covenant came into being when God spoke the words, "Let there be," and there was.... To be creature is to be an addressee of the sovereign Word of the Lord: "be my servant, sing forth my praise."
Sin is disservice, disobedience, dishonor. It is the antithesis to God's thesis. It is the refusal of mankind...to love, serve, and obey the Creator...And it (sin) destroys the peace in Man's relation with nature, of which mankind was created crown…
Redemption is the restoration of creation as the theater of God's Glory. ...The history of the cosmos, from paradise lost to paradise regained, climaxes in the Hallelujah chorus sung by every creature: “ To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev 5:13)
This description of creation, sin, and redemption has two very important directives for Christian Education. First, our school's curriculum and programs model the cohesiveness of creation and challenge the student with the redemptive power of the cross. Second, each student is an image bearer of the Creator, and discernment should be used to foster students obedient growth into the fullness of that image. This means that our school should be a place where we unwrap the gifts that God has given the students, a community that shares each other's joys and concerns, and a family that seeks to be in shalom (living as God intended). Over the coming weeks, I’ll unpack how we live out these two directives here at Shoreline Christian.