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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you today, shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk about them when you are sitting in your home, and when you are walking by the wayside, and when you lie down, and when you get up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be like frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your home, and on your city gates!” — Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
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What is Christian Education? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”(1) In the light of the Word of God – for “in Thy light shall we see light”(2) – we will here, in this paper, endeavor to discover the Divine Will on the subject of Christian Education.
In this paper, we shall briefly deal with: firstly, the definition of Christian Education – what it is; secondly, the goal of Christian Education – what it aims to do; thirdly, the subjects of Christian Education – who should be taught; fourthly, the teachers of Christian Education – who should do the teaching; and fifthly, the methods of Christian Education – how we should teach.
1. Firstly then, let us take a comprehensive look at the definition of Christian Education.
The word “education” is initially derived from the Latin educare, meaning “to educate” or “to train”. This Latin word in its turn is probably still more remotely derived from two other Latin words, e and duco. Taken together, these words mean: “I lead out of.”
“Education”, therefore, means a “leading out” – leading something out of a person. It is, for this reason, the process of encouraging the development of God-given inherent gifts and the knowledge — which the Lord has given to each person, and especially to each child.
However, the word “education” is also often used today with an expanded meaning to cover the opposite process as well. For today, by “education” we not only mean what we draw out of someone. We also mean what we put into someone — which latter process should really be called “inducation” or induction, or indoctrination.
Nevertheless here we will use the word education in the broad sense to cover both that which we take out of someone which God had previously put into them — as well as that which we implant from God’s world into someone (something which was not in them before). So the word education, when taken thus, covers “inducation” as well — namely that teaching process of encouraging the development of knowledge and virtues in a human being, by incorporating them into his personality from the outside-inwards.
Both of these aspects — education and “inducation” — were employed before the fall. Yet they were both rather more instinctive processes then, than they are now. That is to say, before the fall both education and “inducation” came more as a matter of course to Adam than they do to us now; and they were both more directly employed then, than they are now. For God was the direct and sole Educator before the fall, or at least while only the first human being existed. Whereas after the fall, God now also educates indirectly -by means of a human teacher.
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Man, before the fall, was still the image of God, and possessed perfect righteousness, holiness, dominion and knowledge.(3) However, this perfect righteousness, holiness, dominion and knowledge of man was subject to growth. For Adam was not destined to remain static. He was destined to acquire more and more knowledge and to grow in grace, even though he had never sinned. Yet Adam was nevertheless intact before the fall. And so, because of this intactness, it was easier for him to learn and to acquire knowledge then — than it is for us now.