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Are Your Students Ready
for Defensive Warfare?

Develop a strategic educational plan for arming our students with the weapons they need when confronted with the secular, humanistic philosophy that is so freely ladled out by the world and the universities today.It’s easy to bemoan the statistics showing how many Christian young men and women are forsaking their Christian roots once they enter college. But as Lutheran educators, what are we doing to combat the satanic assault on our students once they leave our Lutheran schools? How are we faithfully preparing them for the warfare that the enemy plans to engage our students?

I’m afraid that too often we have to admit we simply wring our hands and say, “I don’t honestly know what more I can do than pray for them.” But there is more that we can do. We can develop a strategic educational plan for arming our students with the weapons they need when confronted with the secular, humanistic philosophy that is so freely ladled out by the world and the universities today.
 
Gustave moreau St george and the dragonThe Apostle Peter has some extremely wise words on the subject for us as Lutheran teachers when he wrote in 1 Peter 3:15–16, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

The Greek word for “defense” is apologia. It means to state your case in a definitive way. That’s why I believe that we need to be teaching apologetics to our students prior to their graduation. Ravi Zacharias, a noted apologist, says that the first step in preparing our students to make their defense is that they absolutely, positively need to know “a reason for the hope that is in you.” He states that too many of our young people are ushered off to college, and they are not firmly grounded in their Christian convictions from the Word of God. For that reason, they are easy prey when Satan employs his deceptive tactics to root out and destroy their faith. They don’t know what they truly believe and why they believe it.

It’s easy to buy into the old adage “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” We strive heartily to fulfill the first part—to be forewarned. We repeatedly tell the students they need to be aware because Satan is a prowling lion looking for every way possible to devour them. But what are we doing about the second half of that adage. Are we giving our utmost to make them forearmed?

We want to make sure that when our students graduate they have been given the opportunity to “put on the whole armor” of God so that they may be able to stand against the assaults of the Evil One. The motto of our Lutheran schools in Sioux Falls is “World Ready, Faith Secure.” For that reason, Lutheran High School of Sioux Falls has an upper level course in apologetics for the students who are entrusted to their education. We want to make sure that when our students graduate they have been given the opportunity to “put on the whole armor” of God so that they may be able to stand against the assaults of the Evil One.
 
As much as we would like, we can’t just assume either that when some of our students register at so-called Christian universities that their faith won’t be challenged. Some of our students have graduated and enrolled at institutions they believed would give them a solid, Christian education only to discover that some of the faculty are teaching theistic evolution as a fact. When one student wanted to visit with a faculty member regarding this false teaching (having thoroughly prepared his case from his apologetic’s course), the professor refused to meet with the student.

Raphael St George and the DragonJohann Burkhard Freystein (1671–1718) wrote some wise words in his hymn “Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray”:

Watch against the devil’s snares
Lest asleep he find you;
For indeed no pains he spares
To deceive and blind you.
Satan’s prey
Oft are they
Who secure are sleeping
And no watch are keeping.

Watch! Let not the wicked world
With its lies defeat you
Lest with bold deceptions hurled
It betray and cheat you.
Watch and see
Lest there be
Faithless friends to charm you,
Who but seek to harm you.

LSB 663, verses 2 and 3

That’s why apologetics in the Lutheran high schools is so vital. We are not just teaching subject matter. We are given the sacred trust of preparing our students in heart and mind to be able to defend what it is that Holy Scripture in all of its truth and purity says about creation,redemption, and sanctification. We are called to do this to the very best of our God-given abilities as those who must give an account to the Chief Shepherd when He appears on the Last Day.
 
We are given the sacred trust of preparing our students in heart and mind to be able to defend what it is that Holy Scripture in all of its truth and purity says about creation, redemption, and sanctification.What we do as Lutheran high schools reaches far beyond that public walk to receive that coveted diploma. We are charged with the awesome task and responsibility of preparing our students for every second of their earthly lives, so that through faith in the one and only true Savior, Jesus Christ, they believe and receive “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4–5).

So, evaluate your theology curriculum. Don’t be defensive about it as though it can’t possibly need improvement. See where the loopholes are that need to be reinforced. Help your students wage the war with the best defensive weapons God can and will provide. Then having done our utmost, with the Apostle Jude we can confidently say to our graduates: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24–25).

Howard Shane is part-time theology instructor at Lutheran High School, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Quoted Scripture: ESV®