Having been raised going to public schools which bought into the notion that America was built off of greed and corruption, schools that promoted the idea that every American should feel guilty because of our heritage, I received an amazing reeducation when I had the privilege of traveling around the world. It was then that I began to notice that there is something very special and different about America, much of which lies almost forgotten beneath several generations of historical revisionism that has retold the story of who we are and where we came from. Without having experienced other cultures, it was easy to believe the narrative about my past because I was keenly aware that something was really out of order with our culture, even though it was hard to put a finger on it. I could see broken homes, destroyed lives, greed and corruption throughout American life and a host of other indicators all of which seemed to affirm the devaluation of American culture. Such anti-American education breeds a messianic longing in the hearts of its pupils, but offers them a false savior of pluralistic toleration and a false view of liberty that true freedom is to do as one wills.
Yet the stirrings of another metanarrative concerning our true heritage always kept calling from the pages of history as I learned of great heroes of faith who transformed culture through their radical commitment to Jesus Christ and their unwavering allegiance to His word. Heroes like Luther, Calvin, Knox, Whitefield, Wesley and Edwards all testified that there is a true Savior and Redeemer who offers hope not only for the life to come but for real people today. Then, as I began to study the First Great Awakening in America which gave birth to the founding of our nation, it was like scales fell off of my eyes as I saw how wonderful and glorious is the reign of King Jesus for all people of all nations throughout all time. There in the writings of our fathers I found a form of true religion which was beautiful and had the power to change the world, proven by the fact that it gave birth to our great nation. All one has to do is read their writings and you will catch a vision of how all-encompassing their faith was, and that it created a depth of character that is almost foreign to much of modern Christianity. Immediately I knew that the answer for America lies with raising up generations like our founding fathers. This dream gave new life to passages of scripture such as:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5–6, NKJV)
That began a lifelong passion to see the cultural transformation of nations through the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ as individuals are changed into Christ’s image through the power of His Spirit. That sounds like a good dream, but without a mechanism through which it can be accomplished it will always only be a dream and never a reality. One of the primary vehicles of such a transformation, as seen through the Reformation and the First Great Awakening is the church. Not just one church or denomination, but a fundamental mainstream faith and form of religion which crosses and unites different denominations. The whole church which was used to bring cultural transformation in both of those great events had certain common values that united them even when, like the Luther and Calvin, they were radically divided over certain doctrines. Yet, both Luther and Calvin were committed to the importance translating scripture into the vernacular and to the value of ordering all of life according to a right understanding of God’s word. Yet the Church, as we understand it today, is not enough to bring cultural transformation. All transformation is a process which needs to be successfully carried on by succeeding generations. Therefore, another common value of all great cultural transformations is a radical commitment to education because education imparts a cultural inheritance to succeeding generations and enlists them to carry on the work of their father’s to bring all of creation back under the reign of King Jesus. It was only when I found Fortis Academy that I found such a vehicle of cultural transformation in the form of classical Christian education.
Classical Christian education is very different from modern education, even modern Christian education, because it is founded in pedagogical methodologies that have not only been proven through the test of time, but also by the fact that they gave birth to the great nations of the West. Based on the fundamental proposition that man is created in the image of God rather than the product of a cosmic accident, it has as its purpose to teach people to think and develop a love and commitment to those things that are virtuous, true and beautiful. Those who believe we are nothing more than a human machine (the foundation of progressive education) believe that people simply need to receive the right programming to be educated. One can easily see the difference that these two fundamental presuppositions will have in the way children are educated. Almost all of us today were educated progressively, and our very vision of how children are taught and how a classroom is run is based on the idea of human programming, but such an education does not produce mature, virtuous citizens who are a blessing to the world and to their fellow man.
The other aspect of a classical Christian education is that it integrates a biblical worldview into every discipline of life. Much modern Christian education teaches academic disciplines just as they are taught in public schools and then tack on some Bible or religious classes to the curriculum. A classical Christian education is rooted in the great tradition of the West carried on through the church that sees God as the Creator and Sovereign of all. Everything we study teaches us about Him and the world He created. As we use the faculty of reason which He gave us, we come to know Him and His ways. Such education naturally develops a love for God, the world and for our fellow man.
From the moment I discovered a classical Christian education through Fortis Academy, it was like a second awakening. I saw in our humble school, and the movement it is a part of internationally, a vehicle which offers hope for our children and for the world we will give them to inherit.
-Bill Brannan, MDiv