The Biblical Theory of Christian Education

But after the fall, man changed and thereby became a totally depraved sinner. Consequently, it is precisely after the fall that education receives its full emphasis.  So God’s indirect education of man after the fall through the conscious and laborious efforts of one’s fellow man, is in very  sharp contrast to the direct educational work of God the Supreme Teacher before the fall when man learned things with great facility.

And yet, even though education is a universal requirement of all fallen men, and even though all human beings and hence all children must be trained in the way in which they should go so, that when they are old they will not depart therefrom(4) — it must nevertheless be kept in mind that each man and hence each child is a special creation of God.   For everyone has special gifts which must be educated or drawn out.

Each man’s and each child’s special gifts of God should therefore not be crushed under a stereotyped “educational juggernaut” which aims at the uniformification of all education. Think for example of the special gifts of artistic ability of Bezaleel and Aholiab,(5) which artistic gifts the other Israelites did not possess.  Yet these gifts had to be drawn out of them, only after which they were able to serve God’s covenant people with their talents.

So then, education and “inducation” are related processes of respectively drawing things out of people and implanting things into people, and they are both addressed to the whole person, not to only part of the person concerned.   More specifically, in the education of the young,  they are addressed to the whole child to be educated.   Indeed, it is the education of the child with which we are more specifically concerned in this paper.

Now this total approach to educate the whole person we derive from the Lord Christ’s Great Commandment.   That enjoins us: “You shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your soul; and you shalt love your neighbour as yourself.”(6)    This also  commands that we must love God and our fellow man “with all your strength”(7) — whereas we are elsewhere further commanded to love God “with all your might.”(8)

Education involves every aspect of our being.   That, of course, includes our bodies too. For “don’t you know your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit?…    Glorify therefore the Lord your God also in your body!”(9)

So we see that true education (and true “inducation”) means that we must: vertically love God with all our heart; horizontally love man [i.e. both our neighbour and our self as God’s image] with all our heart; and totally love both God and man with all our heart and

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all our mind and all our soul and all our strength and all our might and a;; our body – with all our being.  To teach someone to love with his soul, demands religious education.   To teach a person to love with his mind, demands an intellectual education (of which classic Methodism with its pietistic emphasis on the conversion of the soul alone knows nothing).   To love God with all our body, requires physical education.   And to love with all our might and with all our strength, demands a total education — mens sana in corpore sano, a sane mind in a sane body; to which we may well add:  cum anima sana, with a sound soul.

Christian Education, then, is this same process of education and “inducation” when pursued in accordance with the incarnated and the inscripturated Word of God.   As opposed to ordinary education (which, apart from the influence of God’s common grace, is really not education at all, but is in fact rather seduction unto the devil) — Christian Education may be defined as that humanitarian discipline which educts or extracts and develops those individual gifts given by God to each person; and which inducts or inculcates and develops those special graces, general virtues and general items of knowledge to be communicated from God to every person, in accordance with Jesus Christ as the incarnate Word of God and in consonance with Scripture as the written Word of God.

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