Book Review: Perspectives on Your Child's Education (editor Timothy Paul Jones)
Editor: Timothy Paul Jones
Publisher: B&H Academic
Reading Level: Leisure
* Note: Some individuals might find this review incredibly slanted. This is a review of the book as I see it through my Biblical worldview. I did not go into this review lacking convictions. Though many elements of the book were thought provoking, any potential changes to my opinion were in application only and not fundamental conviction concerning the perspicuity of the Scripture’s teaching. *
“In contemporary culture, we have grown accustomed to releasing responsibility for our offspring to professionals, handing off children’s education to schools and their Christian formation to churches.” (Jones, 6)
Ever since the enlightenment the value of education has been on the rise. This is not to say that education was deemed unimportant before the enlightenment, but after it they were seen as the foundation to a proper society and a better world. In many ways this mindset has been apart of the church from its foundation (John 8:32; 17:3). In Perspectives on Your Child’s Education (henceforth Perspectives), four Christian authors depict the best possible way to educate the children of the church, and world, for the betterment of the gospel and God’s kingdom. Troy Temple argues for Christian parents to consider public schools. Tyler Fischer argues for open admission Christian schools. Mark Eckel argues for closed admission Christian schools. And closing out the volume, Michael Wilder argues for homeschooling. Each essay is given its own chapter with the subsequent chapter being compiled of responses by the remaining co-authors.
Though all four authors push for more parental initiative in their child’s education, it is Temple’s essay in favor of public schooling that is most unique in Perspectives. While Temple has an outstanding section on parental responsibility (10-17), his use of Scripture (e.g. Great Commission, being salt & light) are poorly applied to school age children when 1) these children may not in fact be converted and 2) the applications of these passages to children is a hermeneutical stretch. All three remaining authors respond forcefully that all education is theological (chapter 2). In their response chapter, Fischer, Eckel and Wilder demonstrate through Scripture the Christian’s responsibility to a Biblical worldview. In response to his co-authors, Temple falls back on the concept that his view is simply “confirmed in our hearts” (30) by God. This type of charismatic theology is demonstrated in the remaining chapters to simply be unreasonable and more likely a confirmation of the spirit of the age.
In the remaining six chapters Fischer, Eckel, and Wilder provide options that take seriously that “all education is theological” (e.g. 39, 77, 100). In Fischer’s chapter on open admission Christian school (chapter 3), he defines how such a school functions (31-38) and is best at fulfilling the gospel mission (48-51). In one of the few disappoints of his additions to Perspectives, Fischer spends significant portions of his essay criticizing the other views (38-48). Though some valuable ideas are brought up, this behavior stands is sharp contrast to the shared agreement the three gentlemen present in their responses to one another (e.g. 53, 58, 82-84, 115-118).
Mark Eckel’s essay on closed admission Christian schools is by far the most complete presentation of Biblical reasons for parents to insist on Christian education (chapter 5). Though this is a view shared with Fischer and Wilder, Eckel shows with exceptional precision that “the why and the how” of education are inseparable (68). Eckel argues for a Biblical truth that permeates the entirety of education and successfully shows both the folly of Temple’s perspective and the huge common basis of the final three authors. That stated, the distinctions between Fischer and Eckel’s views are evident and Fischer does present compelling reasons for open admission over against the closed admission proposition.
Almost unfairly, Wilder’s concluding essay on homeschooling (chapter 7) comes off underwhelming after all of the essay responses and Biblical presentations of Fischer and Eckel. Nevertheless, Wilder does present some unique views on responsibility and how education pertains to discipleship (99-101). Wilder does also provide some valuable responses to anticipated objections (108-112).
In conclusion, Perspectives is an uneven book. From one point of view there are only two perspectives, Christian and non-Christian education. Within the Christian education position the different administrations are all persuasive. Many readers will know from practical experience that each of these options is not always available. But each of these Godly men demonstrated that a Godly and Biblical worldview could be accomplished through these administrations. Perspectives is a valuable volume that brings to light the need for Christian education and challenging ideas for the future education of the church.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”