The Christian Education Difference
The concept of a “Christian education” is often misunderstood. The term “Christian education” is too often heard to mean “anti-intellectual,” “anti-science”, or “ideological”. Many believe that a Christian education is an attempt to avoid hard topics or controversial issues, and rather than doing the hard work of education, we instead simply slap an out-of-context Bible verse onto an issue and move on. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, when done properly, a Christian education is everything that a standard education would be . . . plus more. A Christian education does not take things out of the curriculum, but instead adds an additional valuable piece to the educational experience.
A good education encourages students to learn to think through the filter of many different disciplines, to learn to see a problem through many different lenses. When, for example, a new issue arises, we ask “what does history teach us about this topic? Have we been here before?” We ask, “has such an issue been examined in some way by the great literary giants of our world?” Or we ask, “can this problem be solved using the logical and mathematical critical thinking skills I have learned?” We can ask, “can this problem be understood through the lens of the social sciences, and is there a psychological or sociological reason that we respond the way we do?” We can ask the hard questions of philosophy, whether a topic is orderly, true, or consistent.
Yet in most educational models, the questions cannot extend to include questions of faith and our religious practices. But in a Christian education, we can ask one more question that our contemporaries cannot ask: “what does our faith say about this issue?”
A good education teaches us that most problems in our world are complex, and we often find different answers to our questions based on the particular lens we are using at a given time. Yet in most educational settings, we are forbidden to use one of our deeply valuable lenses—the lens of our faith. When that lens is brought to bear, we do not ignore all of the wonderful insights we might gain from biology, or psychology, or history, or literature, or the arts; rather, we add to it.
In the end, a Christian education teaches us that all truth is God’s truth, and that we need not be afraid of truth that comes from any of the various disciplines we might study because truth, if it is truth, will always hold up under scrutiny. So in a Christian education, we can embrace the best that science has to offer; we can drink deeply at the great fount of literature our world has produced; we can embrace the arts. And once we finish all of that, we can also go one step further, examining our learning through the lens of our faith, thus revealing even more of the picture of truth and beauty in our world.
So what is the Christian education difference?
It is an education that is more than what is afforded in different settings. A Christian education does not limit our study of science or history or math or music, because God’s truth can be and is revealed through any of those great fields of study; rather, a Christian education embraces all of those fields and goes further to ask yet another set of questions: how does this truth fit into a world that is created and ordered by God? How does what I am learning in these other fields fit into God’s redemptive story of history? How might I take what I am learning and help make this world a little more like the Kingdom of God that Jesus envisions? How can the knowledge gained in any of these great areas of study help me to love those around me more effectively? These are the sort of added-value questions that make a Christian education different and superior.