Why Do Christian Students Sometimes Resent Christian Education?

Christian education finds itself at a crucial and unsettling juncture. Although it has sought to lay a thoroughly biblical foundation and to impart truth at every hand, many students are cold, even resentful, to its teaching.

In an age when young people define truth by their own subjective perceptions, perhaps we should ask ourselves some questions: Are we teaching them the whole truth? Could we, who cherish it, actually be dumbing down our presentation of the truth? Amid calls of "Don’t give them doctrine, make it practical!" and an obsession with "principles to live by," have we lost sight of the basics and perhaps even obscured the person of the gospel, Jesus Christ?

When the way our students behave seems to indicate that they do not understand true Christianity, we often respond with more and more behavior-focused instruction. Instead of teaching what Christ has perfectly accomplished for us, do we overemphasize personal do’s and don’ts? Paul testifies his understanding of the command to pre-sent "Christ crucified" in I Corinthians 1:23. Perhaps one reason the gospel has lost its wonder and richness for young people may be our presentation of the wonderful central figure His is sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly, superseded by lesser goals.

In I Corinthians 1:23 Paul also states that there were those who found his preaching of Christ patently unacceptable. The impact of Paul’s ministry on both his own generation and every generation since cannot be understated. It is astounding. But though Paul faithfully sought to preach Christ crucified, his message was not, and has not been, welcomed by every person who has ever heard it.

We all lament our own lack of power, our want of humble piety, and the great limitations of our flesh that make us inadequate to the task. We learn to put less and less confidence in ourselves. But we are confident that God is never frustrated. His promise in Isaiah 55:11 is that His Word shall not return unto Him void but shall accomplish that which He pleases and prospers in the thing whereto He sends it.

As we seek to reach those who seem hardened to our message, we can remember our Lord’s example of teaching on the road to Emmaus. In Luke 24:27 we read, "He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Though a stumbling block and a rock of offense, the teaching and preaching Christ crucified, we are assured, is our example for Christian education in every generation.

 by Brian Forrester. Updated October 21, 2015.

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