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Does A Classical School Really Need A Statement Of Faith?

You can learn quite a lot about classical Christian education by dropping in on a dozen randomly chosen CCE websites, meandering through the “About Us” section, and noting what is common to all.

While I have written before on why it is problematic (and simply untrue) for classical schools to claim they “do not teach students what to think, but how to think,” a recent gander at a number of CCE websites unfolded another oddity about the claim: every school which claimed it did not teach students what to think, but how, nonetheless had a statement of faith.

A statement of faith is quite simply a list of whats to believe, not a list of hows. A statement of faith is a catalog of highly particular claims that have been arrived at on the far end of hermeneutics and tradition. A statement of faith— any statement of faith, Protestant or Catholic or Deist— exists to say, “Regardless of the methods you use to read the Bible, you need to arrive at these certain conclusions if you want your child to come to this school.” A statement of faith is not a list of methods, not a list of strategies, but a list of dogmas, and dogmas are not “how we believe,” but “what we believe.” Any school worth their salt will aim to graduate men and women who believe the statement of faith, not merely sophisticated thinkers equipped with elaborate hows by which to justify their capitulation to the world. If a school cared only for how students think, they would not need a statement of faith. If a school maintains that certain positions are not up for debate (marriage, gender, the truth of Scripture, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ), that school is also willing to set hows aside.

Granted, it sounds quite generous to say, “We don’t teach students what to think, but how,” but it’s simply not true of any academic institution (although it sounds more like a slogan the ACLU would embrace). It is unobtrusive and lenient to the point of luxuriant softness. Jesus Christ isn’t a method, though, and so a good school must teach form and content, educate body and soul, mind and heart, and not shy from the fact the historic creeds and dogmas of the church are not up for debate.

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