Monday, July 20, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 2 (12)


What is the goal of education?

Dabney tells us, “Every line of true knowledge must find its completeness as it converges on God, just as every beam of daylight leads the eye to the sun. If religion is excluded from our study, every process of thought will be arrested before it reaches its proper goal. The structure of thought must remain a truncated cone, with its proper apex lacking.”(1)

Douglas Wilson, author of Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, and founder of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, concludes this way:
The Christian educator’s job is not to require the students to spend all their time gazing at the sun. Rather, we want them to examine everything else in the light the sun provides. It would be utmost folly to try to blacken the sun in order to study the world around us ‘objectively.’ Because all truth comes from God, the universe is coherent. Without God, particulars have no relationship to other particulars. Each subject has no relationship to any other subject. Christian educators must reject this understanding of the universe as a multiverse; the world is more than an infinite array of absurd ‘facts.’ The fragmentation of knowledge must therefore be avoided. History bears a relation to English, and biology a relation to philosophy; they all unite in the queen of the sciences, theology.(2)
The Lord will not let the gates of hell prevail against the church. Recovering the lost tools of learning within a biblical worldview will go a long way to fortifying our families to join Him for battle.

Jeff Reed, a lecturer at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, defined the ideal for Christian education during doctoral discussions at Gordon-Conwell as, “Serious, ordered learning, taking place in the context of the local church community, under the shepherding of the parents, designed to establish their children in the faith and to launch them into their lifework and the lifelong learning process.”(3) He cites four roles that children must be taught to fulfill.
  1. Individual with duties – I am a child of God, unique, valuable, and forgiven
  2. Family member with responsibilities – I am a valuable member of a family with distinct roles and responsibilities according to God’s design.
  3. Church member with relationships – I am a vital member of a local church, with unique gifts and ministries, to be lived out under Christ’s administration.
  4. World member with leadership – invest my life in doing good.
J. C. Ryle instructs parents and Christian leaders to, “Train well for this life, and train well for the life to come; train well for earth, and train well for heaven; train them for God, for Christ, and for eternity.”(4) The biblical goal of education is therefore shaped by the idea of theology as habitus, an integration of all of learning for the glory of God.

The result we are looking for can be summarized in a word: catechesis. The word comes from the Greek meaning to resound or echo, to celebrate or initiate, to repeat another’s words and deeds.

Catechesis is the process by which persons are initiated into the Christian community and its faith, revelation, and vocation; the process by which persons throughout their lifetimes are continually converted and nurtured, transformed and formed, by and in its living tradition. It is every activity used by the church to celebrate and imitate the words or actions of God.(5)

(1) Robert L. Dabney, Secularised Education, 6, (accessed 12 January 2009).
(2) Douglas Wilson, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), 63.
(3) Jeff Reed, “Global Church-based Theological Education,” (Boston: Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, 10 March 2006
(4) J.C. Ryle, The Duties of Parents: Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go (Harrisburg, PA: Triangle Press, 1996), 38.
(5) John H. Westerhoff III and O.C. Edwards, eds, A Faithful Church: Issues in the History of Catechesis (Wilton, CT: Morehouse-Barlow, 1981), 2.

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved

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