(Photo: The Christian Post/Tyler O'Neil)
A controversial high-profile Christian educator denounced the homeschooling trend of believers withdrawing from the public, and encouraged them instead to pursue excellence and engage the culture in all levels of education.
"When I read that there's been a 3,000 percent increase in homeschooling in America, it tells me that we're stepping out of our educational system," Carlos Campo, an education and leadership consultant, told The Christian Post in an interview this week. Calling for a renewed emphasis on excellence in Christian education, Campo also encourages believers to engage the public schools.
"Frankly, Christian scholarship really has to take the next step up, because at the evangelical schools in this country, scholarship has not been a priority for many years," Campo argued. He cited historian Mark Noll's book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, a treatise addressing the alleged decline of rigorous thought in evangelical circles.
"There's been a divide between the church and study," Campo explained. He even quoted Noll, saying, "'Christian scholars' has been an oxymoron in the past, as people focus on the things of God as though the things of study are the things of the world."
But Campo, who resigned as president of Regent University in September, said he no longer sees this rejection of the mind in Christian schools.
"There is a higher level of Christian scholarship happening across the board," he said, noting faith-based centers at the University of Virginia and Michigan State University, as well as the success of leading philosopher Alvin Plantinga, John A. O'Brien professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
"I think all of those are signs that a remnant is rising up," the former president of Regent said.
Attacking a widespread unbelief in the majority of American colleges, he compared Christian students in America to the prophet Daniel studying pagan literature in Babylon.
"Daniel's education, I'm guessing, was not haphazard – it was very intentional," Campo explained. He argued that parents need to provide a solid biblical foundation for their kids and then have confidence that God will preserve them in the worldly affairs of public education.
Campo also encouraged believers to enroll students in public schools where they will face and address the world.
"I think that Christians have to stop scaring one another saying 'if you send your child to this school, they'll lose their faith.' I just don't believe that the God we serve deals with us in that fashion," Campo proclaimed.
Once parents give their children a firm foundation, mom and dad need not fear that God will abandon the next generation, he asserted.
"These teachers would have no job without your children, and as you pull them out of public school and into homeschool or other choices, in a way you're stepping out of the system," Campo explained, rejecting this separation as a false solution.
"As Christians, we are about cultural engagement," Campo declared. "God has given us an opportunity to engage the culture in every regard." He argued that instead of pulling their children out of public school and into homeschooling, Christian parents should be more engaged and active in their local school districts.
On the related issue of the Common Core – nearly nationwide educational standards agreed to in President Obama's program Race to the Top – the former president of Regent would offer no comment. He recalled some fellow Christians denouncing it as "perhaps the most insidious affront that Christians have faced in the last 30 years," and others saying it isn't a threat at all.
Whether or not Common Core is a threat, however, Christians should address it in the public square, Campo said. "If the Common Core departs significantly from first principles, then Americans need to rise up against it and say, 'not in our community!'"
When asked about his resignation from Regent, Campo restated his previous explanation that founder Pat Robertson just wanted a more active role in the university's administration. "His intent is to make sure that, as long as he's alive, he has a very critical role in governing that institution," Campo told CP. "I think that's absolutely his right and I applaud that right."