When people think of a Christian school, most think of a school that includes prayer, chapel, and required Bible courses. But a Christian school should be far more than that, as every subject should be taught in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, it is not always easy to see from the outside just how this plays out in the classroom. So let me take the subject of history and show why the teacher’s worldview matters. Here are six reasons why history must be taught from a Christian worldview:
(1) History is linear. History has a beginning and an end. It’s going somewhere. For the Christian, history begins with God’s creation of the world and ends with the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the new heavens and earth. Along the way, God has been redeeming a people for Himself, as seen in Old Testament Israel and now in the church. Unbelievers have no place for creation in history (though they certainly do have a view of how the world began), and this has radical implications for what kind of world we live in. But unbelievers also have no place for the return of Christ. For them, there is no future hope of restoration and peace. And so even if unbelievers hold to some form of linear history (which many of them do not), they have no idea where history is going. In other words, they miss the big picture.
(2) History is directed and orchestrated by God. The study of history is more than a collection of names and dates. History is a story, and it is a story that must be interpreted. The Christian interprets history as being directed by God’s sovereign decrees. The Bible shows that God rules over even the kings of the nations, seen in God’s rule over Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (in the book of Daniel) and Cyrus of Persia (in the book of Ezra). So we must affirm that all events in history are within the providential care of God and that He is orchestrating them together to bring about His purposes. The unbeliever cannot bring events together in a cohesive story and can thus only (consistently) conclude that we live in a random, disorderly world.
(3) History requires moral judgments. Events must be evaluated. Individuals must be assessed for virtue and vice, and wars must be deemed as just or unjust. For one, history is boring without moral assessment. History is made alive when we debate the decisions of generals or the actions of tyrannical kings. But we must also learn from history. Nations and their citizens should learn from previous wars and policies, and they should act accordingly in situations of similar circumstance. History also provides us with characters to condemn or esteem. The obvious example of the former is Adolf Hitler. How can we condemn his actions (or any murder) without a proper view of man being made in God’s image? There are also less obvious examples. How should we evaluate the ancient Greeks and Romans? Some of their practices seem exemplary, such as their praise of courage and valor. But other practices should be condemned, such as infanticide (the practice of murdering undesired children). History requires moral judgments, and proper judgments require a biblical perspective.
(4) Ancient history requires interaction with Israel. It is impossible to study ancient history without studying Old Testament Israel. Hence, even secular history books make significant mention of Israel. The Jews fought the Hittites, were enslaved by the Egyptians, were destroyed by the Assyrians, were thrown in captivity by the Babylonians, were released by the Persians, and were made subject to the Romans. This is not to mention that the Old Testament is the most comprehensive and well-preserved document of the Ancient Near East. But of course, the secularist will claim that Israel based their laws off Hammurabi’s code instead of being delivered directly by God, as one major college textbook claims. There is no neutral treatment of ancient history, and there are massive worldview implications for whether one views ancient Israel as the chosen people of God or just another nation in the ancient world.
(5) The history of Western civilization requires interaction with the church. It is impossible to study Western civilization without studying the church. Ever since the Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion in 312 A.D., Western history has in a sense been church history. The New Testament has been so influential in Europe and America that to be ignorant of its teachings actually makes one ignorant of Western history. But Jesus and the Apostles were not the only influential Christian thinkers. So were Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin. An unbeliever can certainly teach medieval history or post-Reformation European history, but this will not be from an unbiased perspective. Western history involves debates over the person of Christ, the legitimacy of the papacy, the relation of the church to the state, the authority of the Bible, and the instrument of justification. Occasionally an unbelieving teacher may present these issues in a fair-minded way. But it is far more common in our secular culture for an unbelieving teacher to teach an anti-Christian perspective—or to completely avoid discussion of these important events. Sadly, many high schools (and colleges) today are barely covering Western civilization, probably because it would require significant attention to church history.
(6) Jesus is Lord of history. Ultimately, history must be taught from a Christian worldview because Jesus is the Lord of history. This is evident even in our calendar. Our seven day week is patterned off God’s creation in Genesis 1, and our system of dates is based off the coming of Christ as the central event of history. B.C. is short for “before Christ” and A.D. is short for anno domini (Latin, “year of the Lord”). It is no surprise that secularists are seeking to overthrow Jesus as the foundation of Western civilization. Not only are many of them ignoring the vast period known as Christendom (312–1600s A.D.), but they are also rebelling against the calendar by using B.C.E. and C.E. (“Before the Common Era” and “Common Era”) instead of B.C. and A.D. Of course, they have not completely rid themselves of Christianity’s “stain,” as they still use the dates established by the church. Students still have to ask, “Teacher, just what marks this as the Common Era?"
These are some of the reasons why history must be taught from a Christian worldview. It’s not that unbelievers cannot teach history. In fact, they do teach history, and some of them do it quite well. But history is always taught from a particular worldview, and we must therefore evaluate the claims of those who teach us history. Children are not in a place intellectually to evaluate such claims. So if we are to bring up our children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4), we want them to be taught history from God’s perspective. Once they have matured intellectually and developed a Christian worldview, then they can read and study under unbelieving teachers. Until then, they are soldiers in training.