August 4, 2010

Regents Daily News:
August 4, 2010

The “Christian” in Classical Christian Education, Part 1

In a previous post I offered a few thoughts on what it means that education at Regents Academy is a “Classical” education. Now I offer a few thoughts on how Classical Christian education is “Christian” education.

To say that the education being offered at Regents is “Christian” is to say that the word Christian is more than a label. It is to say that this education is Christ-centered. Christ is at the center, both in terms of content and method. Content means pedagogy – the actual curriculum and how that curriculum is taught. And method involves how we go about doing education in an atmosphere of discipleship, in a uniquely Christian culture.

Christ-centered content and Christ-centered method.

First, Christ-centered content. My good friend Justin Hughes did us all a great service a couple of years back by discussing Christ-centered content for us. Here is what he wrote.

As we essay to pass on to our posterity the knowledge and skills they need not just to survive but to carry on the great task of culture-building that we have inherited from our progenitors, isn’t it true that we are simply communicating the truth about the world?  Aren’t we just telling them what we know about what has happened and what happens in the world?  Consider a course in science.  The purpose is for students to learn how one part of the created order maintains existence and interacts with other parts of nature.  In art we teach them the effect of placing one value alongside another or when one color is added to its complement.  Everything students learn can be summed up in this:  something that occurred, is occurring, or will occur in the world.

Christians have special knowledge about this world.  We know the One who created all the things that make up this world, who ordered all of their interactions, and who sustains their existence by the power of His Word.  “For by [the Son] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).  If there is anything that exists, whether visible or invisible, He created it.  In this passage Paul drives home his point by pronouncing that even thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers are the work of God’s creative hand.  His point is that if these abstractions like dominions and powers are God’s creation, then certainly all the tangible world belongs to him by virtue of creation as well.  In order to truly know the world in which we live, we must know the One by whom it was created—Jesus Christ.

Paul goes on to pray for the Colossians that they may attain understanding “of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:2).  Of course wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ if He is the Creator of all things.  Who knows better a work of art than the artist Himself?  The form of the creation originated in the mind of God and the substance of creation proceeded from the Word of God.  So to know creation, we must see it as an expression of its prime Cause.  We would be foolish to suppose that an autonomous search for wisdom apart from Him would be anything short of futile.  This humble posture must be our starting place in education.  We must acknowledge that if we know anything, and if we are able to pass any knowledge on to our students, not only did the thing that we know originate in God, but our very ability to conceptualize is from God.  To deny God in education would be to deny ourselves not only the substance of what we know and teach but also to deny ourselves and our students the actual ability to know.

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