Lights in Darkness

Lights in Darkness

How do we raise our children as Christians in a world where we see so many things that are contrary to God’s design?  Our children are growing up in a world where young people are commonly wrestling with issues such as gender identity even to the point of gender reassignment.  What about college?  Many Christian parents are concerned about the number of Christian children who lose their faith in college.  How do we prepare our kids to stand strong in a world that has so many dangers?  Those are often the types of questions that are on the minds of Christian parents.  Our answer at Fortis is to raise up Christian thinkers and communicators through a classical Christian University Model school.

There are different visions that drive Christian education.  When I was in high school, there were certain “Christian schools” where the students were notorious for licentiousness.  One student explained that they were trying to show they were just as worldly at those who did not go to a Christian school.  A parent who used to go to Fortis, but left to pursue her career, told me that she lost her faith at a “Christian” high school, but met the Lord in college when she got connected with a Christian campus group. She told me that Fortis has caused her children to love the Lord.  We wish we could guarantee that for every student who enrolls at Fortis.  The point is that mission and vision is critical to the Christian culture of a school.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are some who believe the world is a very evil place and want to protect their children from it.  They are looking for a Christian bubble to protect their kids.  Closely connected to this model is the idea that we should indoctrinate our children.  This is done by telling them what to believe and seeing if they can regurgitate it back to us.  The problem with these models is that they will not prepare children to for life after they leave our home.

At Fortis, we seek to train our students to think for themselves from a Christian perspective.  We want to give them an education in faith and virtue that will make them strong when they face challenges in life.  One of the ways this is done is by having the courage to face the ideas and dogmas they will experience in the world in an environment where we can analyze it from a Christian perspective.  The beauty of a classical education is that it develops both discernment and Christian virtue. The idea is that students would see the beauty of Christ, of His creation, and of His government.  Having that vision causes them to recognize those things that are contrary to Christ and at the same time creates the confidence and security that is necessary to exhibit Christian virtue.  When confronted with those who are committed to evil ideologies or actions, those with such a vision are not afraid and are able to be a light in a dark world.  They can see goodness, truth and beauty wherever it is to be found, and are even able to see it a fallen world and among sinful human beings. Through their education they have developed the character and skill where they are able to fulfill their calling and cause God’s will to be done, in a greater measure, on earth as it is in heaven.  Most importantly, our prayer is that they walk in the light of God’s presence, for in His presence they will find fullness of joy.  The end of such an education is true satisfaction in life.

Beatific Sight and Education

Beatific Sight and Education

It is interesting to ponder the memories and knowledge that we have integrated into our worldview and retain in our permanent memory.  I still remember many things from classes taught more than two decades ago by Dr. Shuta.  He constantly challenged us with new information that woke our imagination and required us to think.  In his systematic theology class we had a discussion on beatific vision, which the redeemed will enjoy in heaven.  It is “a term denoting the blessed state of the glorified saints in heaven, where they behold the glory of the Lord and enjoy perfect and sinless communion with Him.”[1] C. Stephen Evans writes concerning beatific vision that “many religious philosophers have taken the Beatific Vision to be the supreme good that all humans seek, whether they know it or not.”[2]

True education seeks to develop knowledge that is dynamic, that grows, develops and makes connections to all other truth.  As I was thinking about beatific vision, I thought of the words of the Apostle John who wrote,  “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2, NKJV). Here the ultimate purpose of humanity is as seeing Christ as He truly is.  There is also a principle here that to the level that Christ is revealed to us that we become like Him. Generally speaking, the current Christian worldview restricts this knowing to a personal experience of God’s grace, and in better circles, to the revelation of Christ through special revelation (the scriptures).  Classical Christian education seeks to restore the tradition that built Western Civilization, which includes the conviction that Christ is also revealed through general revelation.  In other words, Christ is revealed in nature as Creator and in history as Lord. It is a tradition that sees divine purpose, meaning and design in all of life.  Whenever someone begins to experience Christ revealed through general revelation, education becomes an exciting exploration of the character and nature of God.  As scripture says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, NKJV).

I was fascinated when I learned that certain monks referred to themselves as white martyrs, hoping someday to exchange their white martyrdom for red martyrdom.  They saw themselves as living witnesses who were willing to lay down their lives for the testimony of Christ.  At the Society for Classical learning conference this summer, I learned that they also had a term called “green martyrdom”.  What happened is that Irish monks preserved classical learning because they found Christ revealed through it by general revelation.  They discovered that the development of the intellect and of skills such as logic and rhetoric develops the image of God in man.  Eventually they realized that this great education must be shared with the world, so they went throughout Europe founding monasteries that included schools which educated Europe in the seven liberal arts.  This was called the green martyrdom because they were growing the revelation of Christ in the earth as Europe received an education that revealed Christ to them through both special and general revelation. They planted the garden of God in the barren desert of human depravity and ignorance.

One of the goals of Fortis Academy is for our children to see Christ through both general and special revelation, and as they do, to become more like Jesus.  Another goal is for our students to become green martyrs who reconnect with the great tradition passed down to us through Western Civilization.

[1] Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms (Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002), 66.

[2] C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 16.

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