A Baptist editor says it is time for the Southern Baptist Convention to make a “positive, comprehensive statement” on Christian schools, but stopped short of endorsing a call for investigating homosexual influences in public schools.
Editorializing June 16 about a resolution proposed at next week’s SBC annual meeting, which if passed would urge churches to pull their children out of public schools that promote a homosexual “agenda” through diversity programs and gay clubs, Florida Baptist Witness Editor James Smith acknowledged, “There should be little debate that our schools have become an important avenue of the homosexual lobby to push its agenda on our children.”
Smith noted that is has been six years since the last two SBC education resolutions, and those statements, affirming both private Christian schools and teachers and administrators who serve as Christians in public education, “were not very thorough.”
The editor said Southern Baptists need a “broad-based statement that expresses the biblical understanding of education and is a catalyst to energize our denomination to action on this critical front of the Culture War.”
Smith said the SBC Resolutions Committee would not have to look far for help in “framing a positive, comprehensive statement on education.”
Smith commended Glenn Schultz, director of LifeWay Christian School Resources for the SBC publishing house, as one of Southern Baptists’ leading thinkers on “Kingdom Education,” defined as “the life-long, Bible-based, Christ-centered process of leading a child into a new identity with Christ and developing him/her according to the specific abilities given him/her by Christ so that the child will be empowered to live a life characterized by love, trust and obedience to Christ.”
Smith said another leader, Ed Gamble, executive director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, told him recently it’s long past time for the SBC to integrate Christian elementary and secondary education into its ministry program.
“Although Christian schools within SBC churches have grown tremendously in recent years, Gamble said too many Southern Baptists ‘continue to neglect the single most important evangelistic tool we have to reach our own children and those immediately around us for Christ and discipling them to be true warriors for the Kingdom.'”
Smith said all Southern Baptists should embrace “Kingdom Education” principles, which “have strong implications for public education.”
“Still, not all public schools are hostile to these values, and where some parents are unable to choose an alternative, the principles provide valuable guidance to parents seeking to inculcate biblical standards in contrast to the worldview promoted in those schools,” he said.
Smith said the SBC needs to say a word about education. “But we need a comprehensive statement about the biblical duty parents have to educate their children. And, let’s not stop at merely adopting another resolution; let’s stimulate the Kingdom Education movement already building in the SBC.”
Bruce Shortt, a Houston attorney who is co-sponsoring the SBC resolution on homosexual influences in public schools, said Southern Baptists need both a strong resolution and an education movement to follow through.
Shortt said he is concerned that language about starting “an education movement” will not have much effect without a budget and an aggressive plan to back it up.
“We need to use resolutions and other means to educate pastors and parents about what we should be doing and why,” he said, “while at the same time putting real resources and effort behind Kingdom Education.”
“If the SBC is going to do that, I say Amen!” he said. “But if we just have words without a large budget and a detailed plan, then talk about an ‘education movement’ is meaningless. Frankly, until people better understand the problem, it is unlikely that anything dramatic will be done.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.