Monday, February 4, 2008

Thoughts on Christian Education (Part 4)

Let's consider the matter of "Worldview", specifically a "Biblical Worldview". I have offered a definition of worldview in the previous post, now I want to unpack the concept a bit.

In earlier posts I have alluded to the directive nature of Deuteronomny 6 and Ephesian 6 as they relate to mandating the discipleship of our children. Scripture is where we must begin. Explicit in the Deuteronomy passage is the time consuming, holistic nature of discipleship, please note the passage with my comments in red-

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel (note the communal nature of this mandate) : The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (total, holistic, devotion to our God-not just a compartment of our life) . 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart (particularly the Ten Commandments and the worldview rationale given with them) . 7 You shall teach them diligently (constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind) to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Developing a biblical worldview involves a high level of reinforcement throughout the day. It cannot be reserved for 60-120 minutes on a Sunday.)

In the New Testament, Paul is writing to the Ephesian Church when he gives this important mandate-

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise) (notice Paul's explicit reference to the Ten Commandments offering a tie to the OT discipleship mandates) , 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (While much shorter than the Deuteronomy passage it is nevertheless as holistic- "bring them up" denotes a way of raising that obviously includes regular reinforcement. "the discipline and instruction of the Lord" seals the deal as it relates to being a fully integrated process of teaching and discipling.)

To these important verses I would like to add another as we think about the matter of inculcating a biblical wordview in our children (younger kids) and youth (older kids).

2 Corinthians 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh (we are in the physical world) , we are not waging war according to the flesh (our mission is not based solely on "natural" knowledge. We depend on revelation from God- in this way, our ability to interpret the world and function is dependent on God's clear guidance). 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds (the power of God by the will of God as revealed by the Word of God). 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God (not that we do this in our own strength, but with God's Word and Spirit) , and take every thought captive to obey Christ ...(this is a key statement for understanding biblical worldview. Essentially, all knowledge must be considered in light of Christ! EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE to obey Christ. So, any "education" that leaves out Christ is deficient, to put it mildly. Learning must include connecting a given truth or fact with it's relationship to Christ)

Now, on to the matter of unpacking the concept of a biblical worldview. Let's start with Barna's definition of a worldview. Barna says a person must have the following six core beliefs to have a "biblical worldview"-

1. The Bible is God's Word

2. Jesus was/is sinless

3. The literal existence of Satan

4. The omnipotence and omniscience of God

5. Salvation by Grace alone

6. Personal responsibility to evangelize

I only site Barna here because these are the criterion he uses when surveying Christians to determine how many possess a biblical worldview. When you hear his popularly referenced statisticas, you'll know they are based on these six beliefs. I think these core beliefs are an adequate starting point but ultimately too incomplete to guage if a person actually has a biblical worldview. The first point- "The Bible is God's Word" is obviously crucial. I would like to list several subpoints under this point. There are plenty of people who would assent to the six core beliefs, however, just saying the Bible is God's Word doesn't make one know what it says and how it should effect their view of life. A biblical worldview must seek to answer many critical life questions biblically, here are a few:

1. Who is God?

2. What can we, as human beings, actually know?

3. Were did I come from and who am I?

4. What is my purpose?

5. How should I live?

6. What should I consider valuable?

7. What is man's chief problem?

8. How can man's chief problem be solved?

9. What is the meaning of history?

10. Where will I go when I die?

These are questions that have to be posed and answered biblically at every juncture of our learning experience in order to have a proper life perspective (biblical worldview). Any "educational" process that doesn't encourage or allow such questions-no matter what subject is being studied- is seriously impeding actual learing and skewing reality. Educational programs that do not include consideration of God's sovereignty (as specifically revealed in Scripture) over a given discipline actually works to skew reality for the learner.

More on worldview to come.


Frontier Forest said...

I am currently reading a great book by Jonathan Aitken. The biography of John Newton is entitled, “From Disgrace to Amazing Grace”. At his first public preaching service in St Mary Wollnoth on Sunday, December 1779, Newton preached on Ephesians 4:15, “speaking the truth in love”. Here Newton begins his new ministry calling with an outstanding explanation of what is meant by the word “truth”. “The Bible is the grand repository of the truths that it will be the business of and the pleasure of my life to set before you. It is the complete system of divine truth to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be taken with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us either to avoid the displeasure or court the favor of our fellow mortals must be an affront to the majesty of God and an act of treachery to men. My conscience bears me witness that I mean to speak only the truth among you.”

Qayaq said...

Let me start out by saying that I do not disagree with you on the point you are trying to make.

It seems like the context of the two passages is that these things would be done in the home by the parents. In the days spoken of, children would work with their parents all day, girls with their mothers, boys with their fathers. Nowadays, fathers go of to work usually mothers to and kids are farmed out to daycare. I guess in this context Christian school would be a good idea.

Most people who live in the US were educated in public schools and are still Christian as a result, just like plenty of people raised in Christian schools are not. A lot of theologians received their PHD's from secular colleges and are still good men of God. Schools like Oxford, Cambridge some not so well known. If one wants to teach someplace like Westminster (seminary) or Reformed seminary, a degree from one of these schools definitely helps.

I don't think the blanket statement can be made, Christian school good, secular school bad. It all depends on the person and many variables. Besides, most people can't afford private education. The people I know who had good private education did not get any better jobs or turn out any different than the ones who were relegated to public schools.

AJF said...


Both passages are addressed to the covenant community- "Hear o Israel..." and the Church at Ephesus. Certainly education is to be the responsibility of the family and assisted by the teaching and nurturing of the church. It is certainly an option to keep a child in the home for the most of the training process (home schooling) but it is also just as acceptable to utilize the ministry of a Christian school for part of your child's training. A parent never relinquishes their role to train, they oversee the process completely. Due to the shared biblical understanding, sending a child to a Chrisitian Day school is part of a communal effort to disciple and is therefore certainly biblical.

Education/training/discipleship is the task of the parents. Parents can use several tools to accomplish this. Home schooling and Christian Private schooling are both valid biblically.

Your example of theologians and others going to secular schools is a different matter. I'm addressing the training of children, not mature disciples of Christ going in to a "secular" university. Part of our goal in discipling our children is to prepare them to do exactly that- go in to secular environments and bring the light of Christ.

Rick Calohan said...

I know we are talking about the education of our youths, and I pray that when John Patrick and any of future children we shall be bless with will go to Westminster so help me God.

We have already seen our parent’s generation “The Baby Boomers” and our “Generation X” so fixated on themselves and their luxury toys all at the expense of two parents working sending your kids to day care, public schools has wrought.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism first question is:

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: Mans chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.

Put to a Public School Child who is un-churched it might as well be in Gaelic (No offense to me Irish brethren of which I am Scotch-Irish)

Ciod is crìoch àraidh don duine?

Is i is crìoch àraidh don duine, Dia a ghlòrachadh, agus a mhealtainn gu siorruidh.

That is what becomes of God, the Bible, Faith, Life, Social, Science, umn what’s the term? Ah yes WORLD VIEW becomes ESKEW.