Who Says… You Should Study The Classics?

Part of the series Who says…
Written by Beth Wiens, published on 2015-03-23.

Over the next two weeks, my guest blogger will challenge our natural tendency to follow men rather than God.

Building on a foundation that God is, that He created the universe and that He ultimately is responsible for our children’s being, should provide ample substance upon which to build our faith. This lengthy series will identify the secular thinking that has eroded that faith.

Bible Reference: Colossians 2:8

As Christian home educating parents, it seems natural that our highest objective would be to train our children in a biblical worldview. However, we can easily get side-tracked from this goal in our enthusiasm to ensure our children are excelling academically. For many, the temptation is great to measure the quality of our children’s education by man’s standards, and this takes us off course.

I think this concern about measuring up is one reason the study of classical works by pagan, Greek philosophers has become so popular among home educators. Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and others, are esteemed by many as great intellectuals within classical literature. When we encounter leaders in the home education community who are recommending the study of these philosophers, it is easy to feel intimidated or to fear our children are not getting a quality education if they don’t follow suit. However, if our objective truly is for our children to develop a strong biblical worldview, should we really be turning to pagan philosophers to gain an understanding of God and the meaning of life? These men relied on their own wisdom and human reasoning to interpret reality and the world around them. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that their conclusions regarding key issues such as the nature of man, justice, government, virtue and family life, do not line up with Scripture. Proverbs 9:10 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” To seek wisdom and understanding from men is an exercise in futility, as it will lead us into error.

When our children are immersed in unbiblical classical literature as a course of studies, there is a substantial risk that they may come to esteem the vain philosophies of men over the truth of God, especially if our children see these men and their writings revered by others as a credible source of truth. There is a temptation toward academic elitism, which affirms the wisdom of man as the final authority instead of God’s Word. When our confidence is in man, it becomes easy to syncretize false ideas with the Bible. Truth mixed with lie is not truth, and it easily deceives. I’ve seen the results, and I find this fascination with pagan classical literature disturbing. Just because a man has gained popularity and influence in our culture, does not mean his works reflect the truth. Filling our children’s minds with vain philosophies is not only an unworthy pursuit, but will undermine their biblical worldview. As parents, we need to carefully evaluate what resources we place before our children and teach them how to choose excellent literature that will build their faith and character.

So does that mean we should keep our children ignorant of worldly philosophies? Not at all! It is beneficial for our children to understand the basic premises of different worldviews when taught within a biblical context. Such study helps them identify many false ideas they will be confronted with throughout life, teaching them discernment and how to defend their faith. We need to equip our children with answers so they can challenge unbiblical thinking in our culture and stand strong. To do this, our focus should be on grounding our children in the truth of God’s Word in order to give them a faithful standard by which to measure everything else. If we want our children to gain wisdom and excellence in their studies, we need to send them to Scripture, not Plato’s Republic!

“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.” ~ I Timothy 6:20,21

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