Faith Integration Modules / Learning Objects
Module 2: What is the goal of Christian teaching and learning?
Video Clip Introduction (Download RealPlayer)
Some Christian educators summarize the goal of education to be,
“The restoration of the image of God in man
the harmonious development of the physical, mental, social, spiritual, and emotional faculties”.
What is envisaged, in essence, is:
- the recognition of a need for healing, re-centering and restoration of wholeness in answer to the brokenness, disconnectedness and soul-sickness experienced by all humanity as a consequence of the Fall;
- a process that focuses on the whole person and the interdependent relationship between all facets of human personality;
- the outcome and evidence of the process will be a reflection of God-likeness, rather than human greatness and achievement.
While it is helpful to identify and describe various facets of human personality, it is important to see such personality as an organic whole of those parts. It is helpful and appropriate to see such a person as being a soul.
With this in mind, it is appropriate to see teaching and learning as an intentional part of a redemptive process to build comprehensive wholeness, and thus reverse the alienation initiated by Lucifer, and evident in the Fall.
We may recognize this as a process that seeks to bring order out of chaos. Thus, Christian education, as a process, mirrors God’s creative action.
Such considerations invite a further important question:
What is the significance of the term Christ-centered education?
- Creation was a divine act that brought order (cosmos) out of chaos.
- The creation of the human soul was the crowning act of Creation.
- The restoration of the soul is an act of re-creation and thus, redemption, because the capacity to give and maintain life is outside humanity, and only resides in the Creator.
- The Bible repeatedly identifies Christ’s central role in that action.
(John 1; Colossians 1; Hebrews 1:1-3)
Colossians 1:17 “In [Christ] all things consist”.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases this portion of Colossians graphically, acknowledging
both Christ’s creative and re-creative role:
‘...[E]verything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe ...get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies.’ (The Message)
Thus, in all aspects of the education process, a Christ-sensitive orientation and focus is significant and vital.
whatever we do that is
conducive to wholeness and meaning, in
a biblically sensitive and responsive context,
(NOTE: Reference to a Christocentric focus in education may cause some conceptual difficulty for some who teach apparently neutral subjects, for example Mathematics and Technology. Later modules address how this might appear in in authentic Christian education..)
What is the place of the teacher in this process?
Christian teachers may be viewed as participants cooperating with God in this process. George Knight (1980) appropriately argues, Christian education is true ministry and each teacher an ‘agent of salvation’. It is ‘a ministry of reconciliation’ in every respect. It is also ‘religion’ in essence (Latin religere = to bind together again).
Paul, captures the spirit of this process in Ephesians 4:11-16:
[Christ] …gave some to be …teachers, to prepare(i) God’s people for works of service(ii), so that the body of Christ(iii) may be built up(iv) until we all reach unity(v) in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature(vi), attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ(vii) ….From him the whole body….grows and builds itself up in love(viii).
i. The Greek - katartismos – has connotations of ‘restoring a broken limb of the body or a dislocated joint’ or ‘restoring harmony between alienated parties.
ii. The purpose is ‘service’ rather than personal greatness or material gain.
iii. The focus is on ‘community’ and relationship rather than ‘individualism’.
iv. Implies ‘restoration’.
v. ‘Unity’ represents ‘wholeness’ and ‘integrity’.
vi. Implies ‘a process’.
vii. ‘The measure of fullness of Christ’ is ‘the image of God in humanity.’
viii. The motivation and catalyst is agape (selfless love).
This process envisages a multi-faceted, incarnational role that may be represented by various metaphors, relationships and functions that are sensitive to intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs of the individual student and the community they comprise.
- Earthen vessels (2 Cor 4:7)
Someone has captured the implications and challenge of the
Christian teacher’s role by saying,
“A river cannot rise higher than its source.”
- How do we cooperate with God in the restoration process?
- What is the significance of the suggested metaphors for the role of the Christian teacher? What other metaphors come to mind to describe the Christian teacher’s role?
- What is the significance of the term incarnational in describing the Christian teacher’s role?
- What is your reaction to the concluding statement about the Christian teacher’s role, “A river cannot rise higher than its source”?
- In what ways has God ‘restored’ your life? (Be prepared to tell your personal journey.)
Knight, G. Philosophy and Education: An Introduction in Christian Perspective, Berriens Springs, Michigan: Andrews University Press, 1980, pp. 186, 187.
Knight, G (1985) Chapter 4, Myths in Adventism, Washington, DC: Review and Herald.
Palmer, P. J. (1998) The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.
White, E. G. (1903) Education, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press. (Chapter 1)
Willard, D (1998) ‘Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation and the Restoration of the Soul’ in The Journal of Psychology and Theology, Spring.
©2002 Don C. Roy, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
These materials are provided freely for non-profit educational use. "Freely you have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8.
Graphics ©Southern Asia-Pacific Division and may not be used without permission. Graphics used originally in the Rebirth Christ-Centered Values Education materials. Contact Stephen Guptill for information.
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Last updated April 23, 2006