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The Three-legged Stool

September 27, 2019
By Ron Van Der Pol

A Timeless Analogy of the Relationship Between the Church, Home, and School

Christian schooling has a rich heritage in Reformational communities going back to the 17th century. In 1619, Church fathers in the Netherlands got together to discuss church doctrine at the Synod of Dort. This meeting accomplished many things, especially the emphasis of the sovereignty of God. It is said that a model for how to “catechize”, or to give systematic religious instruction of the Christian doctrines in three sectors of life - the church, home, and school also came from this historic meeting.

Enter the analogy of the three-legged stool. A three-legged stool is solid. It forms a triangle in which the legs are equally spaced, giving it stability. In fact, a three-legged stool is more stable than one with four legs. Geometrically speaking, the reason actually lies in the fact that it only takes three points to define a plane. Any point that is added to that plane will make it harder and harder for the plane to be stable. So if a stool with four legs was on an uneven floor it would be more prone to wobble. It is this three-legged stool that becomes a perfect analogy for biblical instruction. Our Reformed forefathers figured out the importance of Christian education being taught in three areas of a young person’s life - the church, the home, and the school. Because of this, early Christian day schooling developed in the Netherlands, and later Dutch immigrants came to the United States and Canada and founded Reformed churches and yes, Christian schools. 

Geometrically speaking, the reason actually lies in the fact that it only takes three points to define a plane.


I have been blessed to have been a part of this rich heritage of biblical instruction. I was given a Christian education from grades 1-12 at Sunnyside Christian School in Sunnyside, Washington. The school started a kindergarten the year after I started at the school. I was taught early about the importance of the relationship of the church, home, and school when it comes to Christian education. I heard the importance of being taught from a Reformed biblical worldview at SCS. I heard it at my church, Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church, and I heard it in my home growing up. 

The stool legs seem to be uneven in today’s world. There is a wobble in the stool. Where the church or the home might not emphasize an equal importance of a systematic instruction of God’s word for its children, the Christian school takes on more of the weight, trying to compensate. I pray that Calvin Christian School provides our families help with instruction of their children. That is why we partner with you, the home, to bring a biblically-based education while your children are entrusted to us each day. Our mission statement clearly states how important this relationship is…
The mission of Calvin Christian School, in cooperation with the home and church, is to teach the whole child from a biblical worldview, founded in the Reformation, providing children from Christian families with an excellent education for a life of Christ-centered service.

To God be the Glory!

Ron Van Der Pol  
Art Instructor, JH Life, & Visual Communications