Friday, 6 October 2017

Re-Building Christendom--No Time to Lose

The Three-Fold Cord

The State's control over education in New Zealand has been with us since the 1880's.  At the time state funding and control was first put forward few realized that it was a very early manifestation of a doctrine that would come to dominate the country--and well nigh bring us to ruin.  Some have called this ideology"Socialism Without Doctrines".  

Migrants to New Zealand (mainly from the UK) in the late nineteenth century and on into the twentieth came from a civilization that had a long pedigree.  It also had well established institutions, such as hospitals and schools.  Migrants naturally wanted to see these things established in New Zealand--and the quickest way was to fund them out of the public purse.  So New Zealand became a socialist country by practice, rather than by dogma.

Churches were largely complicit in this development.  They were comfortable with supporting state schools, rather than establishing their own parochial schools.  After all, the state had the money (extracted through taxation) and churches did not.  It took a century for this model to fail badly. It has turned out that socialism in the education sector--with or without doctrines--would be no more successful than it has proved to be producing not fit-for-purpose, useless widgets.

One of the reasons Christian churches risk being drowned in a secularist high tide is that in New Zealand the Christian faith--amongst those genuinely converted--is focused upon evangelising others and all going to heaven when we die.  Christians in this country are generally untaught, ignorant, and ineffectual.  They don't know the basics.  Why?  Because Christians have no schools they can access.
When Christians do become concerned about what their children will be taught in State schools, often there is no Christian school to be seen in their area.  They end up home schooling.  This is oftentimes a great solution, provided at least one of the parents is able to commit the time and willing to expend their blood, sweat, and--yes--tears.  It's hard work.  But one good aspect is this: excellent educational resources for Christian schools and home schools are multiplying by the day.

In the United States we are told that a remarkable grass-roots reformation is taking place.  To establish and preserve Christian culture (that is, Christendom) families, churches, and schools are banding together into a three-fold cord that is not easily broken.  Because churches and Christian families have become unmoored from the Christian faith and are being tossed to and fro by the roiling currents of atheistic secularism, it is turning out that newly established Christian schools are helping both families and churches recover their Christian roots.
The spiritual results of this kind of integration are tangible.  A classical Christian school headmaster in the Southwest told me that these schools are often surprised to discover themselves leading Christian families and churches back to [Christian] tradition.  "Though we are the only one of those three not ordained by the Bible to form our children, this is how it's turning out in lots of places," he said. . . . 
At the same time, it's important to recognize the ways that classical Christian schools can boost a healthy ecumenism in the face of a common enemy.  While there are benefits to establishing a school under a particular tradition, there is also wisdom in taking a broad-tent approach, as long as the school remains under one of the ancient creeds.  "The good news is that these kinds of schools have the real opportunity to heal the old divisions, because the old divisions are dead," says (one classical Christian school principal.)  [Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy For Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (New York: Sentinel, 2017), p. 162.]
We expect that this will be the way forward for Christendom in New Zealand as well.  We are in great need of establishing and maintaining the three-fold cord which cannot easily be broken: Christian families, Christian schools, and Christian churches--all working together.  And we do have some particular opportunities.  In particular--the acceptance and recognition of the Cambridge International curriculum and its accompanying exams.  This highly regarded, internationally recognised qualification system has been readily adapted by independent Christian schools. 

Successful students graduating under the Cambridge curriculum and exams have matriculation rights into hundreds and hundreds of colleges and universities around the world.  NZ students graduating from state schools have far less recognition and far, far fewer open doors into tertiary study.

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