A Coalition of Christian Education Bodies
CCfE consists of a number of agencies seeking to bring a Christian contribution to education. Other individuals and agencies are welcome to join like-minded people on this venture.
Welcome to our temporary web page
We are currently in the process of creating a permanent website for CCfE, which will include useful resources and information about further events.
Near the end of November, the Christian Coalition for Education (CCFE) hosted its annual conference: ‘Identity, Sexuality and the Gospel: A better story for our schools’.
The aim of the conference was to provide a collegial forum for Christians involved in education (Heads, Teachers, TAs, Governors, parents and others) to develop a view of education which is authentically Christian and to be equipped to face the social and political challenges in the UK today, especially as they affect views on identity, sexuality, marriage and the family.
The conference was well attended and was hosted by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, the chairman of CCFE and a vast proponent retaining a Christian influence and ethos in education.
Don’t withdraw, don’t compromise, don’t be afraid
Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe’s Church where the conference was held, gave the day’s first address, an exposition of Daniel 1. Comparing the situation of the faithful church today to that of Daniel and his friends in exile in Babylon, Roberts suggested that Christians should not withdraw from society and refuse to be a continued influence of salt and light amid the corruption and darkness. It’s helpful to study the culture we live in, and be a help and transforming influence where we can, as Daniel was, and as Jeremiah later urged the exiles.
But then, nor should believers compromise, perhaps for the sake of advantage or avoiding discomfort and unpopularity or even persecution. And meanwhile, we should continue to trust in God, not being afraid, as he is in control.
A better story for our schools
The keynote address was given by Stanton Jones, Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College, Illinois, and author of a number of books and articles on sexuality issues. Beginning with the goals and aims of education, citing Deuteronomy 6 and C.S. Lewis’s essay “Learning in Wartime,” Professor Jones proceeded to discuss the first sexual revolution of Christianity which was highly counter-cultural in Greco-Roman culture. He explained that this is now followed by second (counter) revolution from the 1960’s which is based on a mechanistic view of the universe and sees sexuality as fundamental to identity.
Professor Jones drew on many of the ideas from Glynn Harrison’s book “A Better Story: Sex & Human Flourishing”, (London IVP 2017). He spoke of how the sexual revolution has resulted in people not having more sex, not being happier in their intimate relationships or happier overall, and that children of the sexual revolution are not performing as well showing that the promises made by the revolution have manifestly failed on its own terms.
Jones went on to discuss the Christian approach to sexuality and relationships as “The Better Story”, which is grounded in a Biblical worldview, realistic, provides a solid rationale for the Christian sexual ethic, and is inspiring. He outlined these ideas and concluded that sex education that is Christian is about the formation of character.
The delegates also attended one of three seminars:
1. Same-sex marriage and other challenges – Professor Stanton Jones
Professor Jones provided very helpful notes on several books about sexual ethics and theology, discussing their key arguments and key quotations, theological method, and problems with the arguments espoused. The books discussed were:
Jay Emerson Johnson, Divine Communion: A Eucharistic Theology of Sexual Intimacy (New York, Seabury Books, 2013)
James V. Brownson, Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex-Relationships (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013)
William Loader, “Homosexuality and the Bible,” in Preston Sprinkle (Ed.), Two Views of Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 17-48).
Karen R. Keen, Scripture, Ethics and the Possibility of Same-Sex Relationships (Eerdmann: 2018)
This analysis of the arguments involved included a table showing how the vice list in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 parallels the ten commandments so that the criticism of sexual immorality and homosexuality is parallel with the commandment not to commit adultery.
In addition, Professor Jones distributed a sheet with the lyrics and screenshots of Ariana Grande’s song, “God is a Woman” (the YouTube video has over 160 million views) who has a large following of young girls. Professor Jones showed how her imagery is very deliberately sexual and pagan and religious, citing this as a key example of how society in general is becoming much more accepting of pagan ideas.
2. Religious Education and Collective Worship – Guy Hordern & Ron Skelton
The delegates were impressed to hear of the incredible work being done at Broadway Academy, and how Christian principles are encouraged across the whole of school life where pupils are from a predominantly Asian background. The Head and deputy inspired those present with their personal stories and the wisdom in how they use the law as it stands to allow for a very strong culture of education about faith from a universal, theistic and faith-specific angle.
Audio file - forthcoming
3. The Principles of Newspeak: The Hijacking of British Values and the Equality Agenda – Roger Kiska
Evidence was presented, showing that British schoolchildren are falling behind their international counterparts, in terms of, for example, mastering basic language and maths skills. Despite this, many schools seem determined to spend more time and energy instilling politically correct concepts of ‘equality and diversity’, while shaming and punishing parents who raise objections. This, Roger Kiska explained, amounts to a new form of “proselytism” and even “ideological colonialism” in education, especially in areas with large ethnic minority populations. Meanwhile, teachers with conservative views are forced to increasingly “self-censor”, not give their own opinions to pupils due to fear of backlash, and are, at times, having to teach material with which they profoundly disagree, such as books which promote same sex parenting or gender transition.
Kiska gave the recent example of a Primary school in South London which ran a gay pride event for all pupils, and then bullied parents who expressed concerns this was indoctrination rather than education. He also cited the well-publicised cases of parents and teachers who were unable to sufficiently affirm and celebrate transgender ideology.
In summary, Kiska concluded that given such a context, it is vital that parents and teachers know their rights and obtain legal assistance if necessary, as the current law still gives protections to parents against indoctrination of their children.
You belong, and you matter
As Christians we can often be heard saying ‘no’ in the public square, but this conference was a powerful reminder that we have a better story to tell our culture, and we should be confident in doing so. This better story must be grounded in the Gospel and a biblical worldview. It must be both realistic and inspiring while providing a solid rational for Christian sexual ethics which can then lead to appropriate sex education that is Christian and based on the formation of character. Young people need a sense of relatedness and significance. They need to understand their beliefs and worldview, and know the values that are important; faith, hope, and love. Only then will they have the full foundations to learn and accept right teaching of skills for their vocations, and accept the support of schools, communities and friends to flourish in the way that God has created them to be. Jones did not belittle sexuality; on the contrary he commented that our sexuality, which is part of who we are made to be, is much more than we can imagine. God’s design for us to manifest his image properly in both marriage and singleness is much more magnificent than what the world can offer. It is this story that must be shared with our children today.
A character education curriculum project that uses The Chronicles of Narnia novels, by C. S. Lewis, in the school curricula. Professor Mark Pike, who is the Project investigator, explained at the conference how the novels exemplify universal virtues, such as courage, humility and gratitude, that children should be taught.
A website for teachers who want their classrooms to be places with a Christian ethos, whatever the subject or age group being taught. It explores what teaching and learning might look like when rooted in Christian faith, hope and love.
A resource created by the Christian Institute for churches and Christian employees.
The Christian Coalition for Education is made up of the following members:
If you would like to be part of CCfE, please contact us.