Does Doug Wilson make the case for Christian Ed.?

Wilson, Douglas. Why Christian Kids Need a Christian Education. Athanasius Press.

Disclaimer: Christian education stands or falls on its own merits. Although I think Wilson failed miserably, I think there are good resources for Christian education. Circe institute and the like.

If your goal is simply to write a basic worldview book, say so. Most of this book is generic worldview stuff, and even though it is by Doug Wilson, it isn’t technically wrong (well, it is but for different reasons). Because of Christian worldview or something, Christian kids need a Christian education. On one level, that’s fine. In terms of making a case for a distinctively Christian education, Wilson is less than persuasive.

I understand that this is a pamphlet and was meant to be read in under an hour. I also realize that Wilson has written larger treatises for a Christian education. Nonetheless, we must still examine whether he makes his case. In a way he does make the case for a Christian education, but he makes himself look silly in the process.

My initial review was openly hostile and I attacked Wilson for failing to prove his case for a classical education. To be fair, that wasn’t his thesis, so I have modified some things.

Of his general definition of education I have no problem with. Education is a passing down from one generation to another. The rest of the first half of the book is worldview talk. Take it or leave it for what it is. I do think he sometimes confuses “neutral” (which is bad) with “common” (which is good).

Around page 39 he starts to torpedo his own project. Wilson is committed to “biblical absolutism,” which sounds great. After mocking old earth Christians, he then walks into a trap he set for himself. The larger context is God’s two books, Bible and Nature. The Bible should interpret nature. That sounds great. Wilson then raises the question (which he fails to answer), “What about geocentrism, since the bible clearly speaks of a stationary earth?” He says the clear should interpret the unclear. That’s great, but it tells me nothing on who gets to determine what is clear and what isn’t.

In fact, the more I reread page 41 I couldn’t see any reason to suppose that Wilson isn’t a geocentrist. It’s rare that you get to watch an author shoot himself in the foot.

The next chapter on covenant nurture could read as a defense of homeschooling, which is odd since Wilson isn’t really a fan of homeschooling. Around page 56 he hints at a defense of classical education: you have to have a classical education because other models are sectarian. That’s rich, coming from Moscow. Classical education, by contrast, offers a robust Trinitarian education. I’m not sure why he thinks classical alone gives that. When we homeschooled my daughter I can assure you it was Trinitarian.

He says Christian education is too important to be relegated to the edge of town (56). I’m not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China. He ends with a great quote from Eric Hoffer that is so rich in irony that I will just leave it as it is: “First you have a movement, then a business, then a racket.” Indeed.


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