One of the most common questions we receive from parents and community members is whether we require state certification for our teachers. The answer is, no–and for good reason.
The reason we think this way is because we are used to the state certifying everything from electricians and plumbers to therapists and doctors. That is because we have come to accept two faulty assumptions: First, we accept that the State is the final authority on all these matters, and has the right to determine who can and cannot perform various forms of work. Second, we have come to associate state certification with a minimum standard of excellence in any particular field of work–so that an ‘uncertification’ equates to certified quackery. We must challenge these assumptions in turn.
Certified According to What Authority?
Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Mark 12:17
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
God has all authority in heaven and on Earth. But he has designed the social order in such a way that there are various spheres within society, each having its own purpose or role in that social order. Among them are the spheres of the Family, the Church, and the State. Along with having a divinely created purpose and function, each of these spheres also has a certain degree of divinely delegated authority to enable it to carry out its intended purpose. I say a ‘certain degree’ because the authority given to each sphere is limited, not absolute. Thus, the family’s authority is limited to its sphere, the Church’s authority is limited to its sphere, and the State’s authority is limited to its sphere.
The command and responsibility to educate children was given to families, not the state. What right, therefore, does the state have to tell you who is qualified to teach our children? If the education of children belongs to the jurisdiction of the family, then it is the family who determines who is qualified to teach their children–not the state.
But when any one sphere forgets that its authority is delegated from God and assumes it is inherent in itself, it has, in fact, assumed the role of God. And when that happens, it assumes that it, and not God, has the right to delegate authority to the other spheres.
That is precisely what has happened to the modern State. Having deposed the sovereign omnipotent God, they have ascended to his throne to wield his scepter over every other sphere in the social order. It has taken for itself the prerogative of the family when it claims ultimate authority and responsibility for the education of children, including the determination of who is qualified to teach them.
To help illustrate this, imagine if a family visited your church for the first time and asked, “Does your church have State certified pastors? Are they approved by the State to preach to you and administer the sacraments? Has the State determined that their doctrinal beliefs meet their standards?” Such questions would reveal a very unbiblical understanding of the relationship between the church and the state. Sadly, the state usurpation of authority many families would not tolerate in their churches, they gladly grant in their families through the education of their children.
Certified According to What Standard?
Not only have we accepted the State’s authority in every area of society, we have also come to accept its certification as a mark of excellence and quality. But as the illustration above makes clear, state certification in some areas would be intolerable. Would you really trust the State to certify your pastor’s qualification for ministry? God forbid! Not only does the State lack any authority to make such a certification, but a secular state has no moral ability to determine what his qualifications should be. That is because the secular State does not exist to serve God, it only exists to serve itself. Therefore, state certification does not mean that something meets
God’s standards, it only means it meets the State’s standards.
All government institutions, including public schools, are an extension of the state. They operate under the authority of the state, and work to fulfill the purposes of the state. A state certification is an assurance that an individual has accepted and is equipped to carry out the objectives of the state. This means that a state teacher certification ensures that an individual has accepted the state’s goals and objectives for your child and is equipped to carry out those objectives in your child.
This ought to provoke the question, “What are the State’s goals and objectives for my child?” The answer to this question would require more space than is permitted here, but suffice it to say, their goals and objectives are not the same as God’s. And they’re not consistent with the goals and objectives of our school.
The state operates from within the progressive educational philosophy, which is fundamentally different from a classical Christian philosophy of education. Not only does this mean the standards of the two philosophies are different, but the training required to implement them are also different. A state certified teacher trained in progressive education would have to be reoriented to a classical Christian pedagogy.
To clarify, the difference between progressive education and classical Christian education are not merely a matter of degree (one standard is higher than the other) it is a difference of king (completely different goals and objectives).