TOWARD A THEOLOGY OF EDUCATION                                 by                      Lisa Anderson-Umana                ...
Copyright © 2012 by Lisa Anderson-UmanaAll rights reserved
CONTENTSList of Illustrations ...............................................................................................
iv  5.      BOX D: MEANS OF EDUCATION ................................................................                    ...
v                                                 ILLUSTRATIONSFigure                                                     ...
vi                                                       TABLESTable                                                      ...
INTRODUCTION               After having spent some 30-years in cross-cultural educational ministry inLatin America, the ti...
2               My theology informs how I teach, the manner in which I address thestudents and how they address me, the me...
3have written extensively about Christian beliefs and doctrines. Even so, no perfectlyarticulated theology exists. No doub...
4                  Let me briefly describe the context of my practice. There are three maincomponents: (1) Latin America; ...
5600 in-depth courses which have formed 6000 camp counselors and program directors, allvolunteer leaders mostly from local...
6                          Figure 2: Frankena (1965) model of a philosophy of education                  Arranging the box...
7               The boxes will organize my theology of education. Box A will answer thequestion of what is our ultimate pu...
8hypocrisy but our Biblically informed worldview makes clear that we are fallen, in need offorgiveness and restoration (Co...
9philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather                            1th...
BOX A: HUMAN’S ULTIMATE PURPOSE                            To glorify God and enjoy him forever               What is the ...
11               God’s glory has its Christian competitors. It is easy to become confusedabout ultimate purpose and with g...
12(Titus 1:1-3). History is a good source for discerning and visualizing God’s ultimatepurpose for humanity.              ...
13                          For the purpose of explaining the illustration in Figure 3: A linear timeline        of histor...
14                                  Education as a redemptive activity                In short for Box A, connecting with ...
BOX B: THE NATURE OF REALITY               Box B in philosophical terms is metaphysical in that it explains reality,answer...
16                                                             1                                            Nature of God ...
17               God is triune. “Within the one essence of the Godhead we have todistinguish three ‘persons’ who are neith...
18all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight in what the Hebrew prophets call Shalom. Inthe Bible, Shalom means uni...
19for our own selfish good. We are to develop and improve it, since God said it was good, buthe did not declare it as comp...
20believe we must learn to live with that ambiguity. We, like the Triune God who created usare made for community. We are ...
21there is a shift from the (1) the “premodern” theistic notion that human beings are dignifiedby being created in the ima...
22               also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the               eyes of both of th...
23moral failure, weakness, caused by low self-esteem, or due to being a victim of some socialill.                   Sin is...
24may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). When he lies, he speaks his nativelanguage, for he is a liar and t...
25Table 2: Sin resulted in four broken relationships (Downs 2012)With God                 We are no longer free in God’s p...
26                                      Nature of redemption                  The nature of redemption builds on the creat...
27                Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has                gone, the new i...
2882, 83). Mark 16:15 clarifies that redemption is not just for the individual, but for the entirecommunity, it’s not just...
29take place at one given moment or in the case of those raised in a Christian home may comegradually culminating with the...
30yet to come, like in WWII. We live in the times between the invasion and victory. We areassured of victory, but still ne...
31       1.      The bestowal of natural gifts, such as rain and sunshine, upon creatures in               general.       ...
32and new earth will be like if we contemplate the very best that this life has to offer and thenmultiply it umpteen times...
33that it is intelligible, orderly and meaningful. By using our senses we can comprehend thissubjectively, not flawlessly,...
34               understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.               Rom 1:18-20         ...
35Table 4: Summary of General and Special Revelation (Downs 2011, 2012)     Categories                         General rev...
36revelation. Moreover, there is a hiddenness to our knowing of truth, much like the way wesee a round sphere, like the mo...
37a second way my knowing is “kick-started” are “trigger events.” When an unforeseencircumstance occurs, like my mother’s ...
38I am not 100% certain (Brookfield 1987). I have had to learn to identify and challenge myown assumptions, beliefs, value...
39               So, in summary, I know because of the authority of the source itself, becauseof my own personal experienc...
40community) to agree to. If we can get them to use our language, then—like the “strongpoets” Moses, Jesus, Plato, Freud—o...
41postmodernity, it well to remember Calvin’s insight that the “illumination of the HolySpirit replaces the inner light of...
42head of the church, made provision for the communication of the good news to manydifferent cultures in the succeeding ce...
BOX C: AIMS OF EDUCATION               What are the specific aims of education? For many, education aims to dumpcontent on...
44            efforts to see Christ formed in the believers, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the            pain...
45                                   Nature of development               What might that development look like through the...
46through the very structures he designed. For example: Disequilibrating experiences ortrigger events, allowed or engineer...
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana
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This paper articulates the educatoinal implications of my theology, beginning first by clarifying what a number of my beliefs are and then enumerating how that informs my curriculum model, my methodology, my view of the teacher, student, and content.

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Towards a theology of education final project lisa anderson umana

  1. 1. TOWARD A THEOLOGY OF EDUCATION by Lisa Anderson-Umana B.S., Penn State University, 1982 M.A., Wheaton College Graduate School, 1993 FINAL PROJECT Submitted to the faculty in partial fulfillment of the requirementsES 9700 Theological Foundations of Christian Education, Perry Downs for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Educational Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Deerfield, Illinois January 2012
  2. 2. Copyright © 2012 by Lisa Anderson-UmanaAll rights reserved
  3. 3. CONTENTSList of Illustrations ........................................................................................................ vList of Tables ............................................................................................................... viChapter 1. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................ 1 Assumptions in writing my theology of education ............................... 2 Organization of my theology of education ........................................... 5 2. BOX A: HUMAN’S ULTIMATE PURPOSE ................................................. 10 To glorify God and enjoy him forever .................................................. 10 Education as a redemptive activity ....................................................... 14 3. BOX B: NATURE OF REALITY .................................................................... 15 Nature of God ....................................................................................... 16 Nature of Creation................................................................................. 17 Nature of persons .................................................................................. 19 Nature of sin .......................................................................................... 21 Nature of redemption ............................................................................ 26 Epistemology: How do we know? ........................................................ 32 Role of the Holy Spirit in education .................................................... 40 Nature of the church as an institution and as a community ................. 41 4. BOX C: AIMS OF EDUCATION ................................................................... 43 Aim: Development towards Christilikeness ....................................... 43 Nature of development ......................................................................... 45 iii
  4. 4. iv 5. BOX D: MEANS OF EDUCATION ................................................................ 47 Internal factors in educating.................................................................. 47 External factors in educating ................................................................ 48 Priesthood of all believers ..................................................................... 48 Curriculum broadly understood ............................................................ 49 Explicit dimension-Content .................................................................. 50 Implicit dimension of curriculum ......................................................... 51 Null dimension ...................................................................................... 52 The Teacher-Incarnated dimension....................................................... 53 Student—whom is taught? .................................................................... 55 Methodology—How is it taught?.......................................................... 57 Institutional structure ............................................................................ 61 6. BOX E: PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATION ........................ 63 7. CONCLUSION ................................................................................................. 67REFERENCE LIST ...................................................................................................... 68
  5. 5. v ILLUSTRATIONSFigure Page 1. My role as director of leadership development for CCI/LA ............................ 4 2. Frankena (1965) model of a philosophy of education ...................................... 6 3. Frankena (1965) boxes arranged in concentric circles ..................................... 6 4. A linear timeline of history ............................................................................... 12 5. Education as a redemptive activity (Downs 2011) ........................................... 14 6. Six dimensions of curriculum ........................................................................... 50 7. Three rail fence (originally Ted Ward and Sam Roven 1972).......................... 59
  6. 6. vi TABLESTable Page 1. May key for a linear timeline of history (Downs 2011) .................................. 13 2. Sin resulted in four broken relationships (Downs 2012) .................................. 25 3. Use of the prefix re-in synonyms for redemption ............................................. 28 4. Summary of General and Special revelation (Downs 2011, 2012) ................. 35 5. Aims from a Christian perspective contrasted with mis-directed aims (Plueddemann 2007) ........................................................................................ 44
  7. 7. INTRODUCTION After having spent some 30-years in cross-cultural educational ministry inLatin America, the time has come to pause and clarify my bearings through the exercise ofwriting down my theology of education. The challenge has been not to explain what Ialready do in education and then try and justify it theologically, which no doubt would belike unto the challenge preachers face in not using the Bible to proof-text their ownthoughts. This is not to say that I have not given sustained thought about why and how Ieducate. During my Master’s degree in Educational Ministries at Wheaton, I took a numberof classes with Jim Plueddemann. Plueddemann (1986) calls for a similar process toexamine and renew your beliefs about Christian Education beginning with the analysis ofyour presuppositions and values about education. He recognizes how difficult this is giventhe fact that most educators are swamped by everyday problems, not to mention that ourpresuppositions are usually below our conscious radar. To help, Plueddemann describes anumber of dominant metaphors in education to help you identify your beliefs and then heguides you to analyze each metaphor both in light of Scripture and in light of social scienceresearch. When I first went through that process, I discovered how I had unconsciouslyadopted a number of unbiblical metaphors because I was following how I had been taughtbut had never stopped to examine its philosophical underpinnings. In much the samemanner, this project has prompted me along a similar path. 1
  8. 8. 2 My theology informs how I teach, the manner in which I address thestudents and how they address me, the methods I choose, and the way I live in general.There must be congruency between what I believe theologically and my craft as aneducator. The occasion of writing a substantial paper on the subject has caused me to pauselong and hard to read, study, listen to others, and organize my thoughts on paper. Thisprocess of writing has pressed me to think intentionally about what I believe theologicallyand its implications for education. With this paper I am cultivating the habit of theologicalreflection. “Theology is the way we construct reality since all things and all events havetheir existence in relation to God. A distinctly Christian worldview demands that all areasof life be understood through a theoretical framework” (Downs 2011, 102). Therefore, as aneducator, all my educational theory and practice should be reflected on theologically. In thisprocess I have discovered a number of assumptions which I hold to be true. Assumptions in writing my theology of education Assumption #1: The title “Toward a theology of education” depicts mybelief that forming one’s theology is a life-long process. This process should be done withhumble confidence rather than proud certainty since now “we see things imperfectly as in acloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now ispartial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knowsme completely” (I Cor 13:12 NLT). Even though our knowledge will never be complete“this side of heaven,” as human beings we are intrinsically motivated to search for meaning,to figure things out. Down through the ages, many highly qualified scholars and laypeople
  9. 9. 3have written extensively about Christian beliefs and doctrines. Even so, no perfectlyarticulated theology exists. No doubt, over time, study, experience, and input from others Iwill have to retrofit my theology of education, furnishing it with new or modified beliefsand practices that were not part of my understanding at this time. I will strive to keep anopen mind toward positive elements in other theologies. Assumption #2: I understand this theology of education to be part of myoverarching philosophy or worldview. I understand philosophy to be an academic termencompassing the classic categories of metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology (ethics andaesthetics) (Knight 1989). When I speak of worldview I am using the definition created byJames Sire (2004a), “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart,that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions, that may betrue, partially true or false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously) about the basicconstitution of reality, and that provides that foundation on which we live and move andhave our being.” Sire recognizes that a worldview is not just expressed as set ofpresuppositions, but also can be expressed in a story or meta-narrative. He also identifiesthat your worldview is not just cognitive but it is how your heart is oriented and committed.We all have a worldview, true or untrue, whether we can articulate it or not. My theologyand worldview should spring from Scripture, the final authority for the Christian. Assumption #3: This paper articulates my aspirations but not necessarily myachievements in education. Even though my theology is incomplete and in formation, I amcommitted to act in accordance with my current understanding and strive to orient my heartin that direction.
  10. 10. 4 Let me briefly describe the context of my practice. There are three maincomponents: (1) Latin America; (2) Christian Camping; (3) Leadership development andtraining. I have lived in Latin America for almost 3 decades and while I reside in Honduras,I travel and teach throughout Mexico, Central and South America. From the very beginningand to this day, my area of service has been Christian Camping. The first five years I servedat a specific campsite outside of Mexico City, after which I began to work with ChristianCamping International, Latin America (CCI/LA), initially as director of training and now asdirector of leadership development. My role can be visualized through the use of a pyramid(Figure 1).Figure 1: My role as director of leadership development for CCI/LA The arrow in Figure 1 points to my current focus which is to develop amulti-cultural team of professors who will teach IFIs—Institute for Forming Instructors.Until now, just myself and one other North American missionary have been responsible forteaching these seventeen-day long intensive training events. Over the last 20 years we haveheld 10 of them which have formed 200 instructors in 11 countries, who in turn have taught
  11. 11. 5600 in-depth courses which have formed 6000 camp counselors and program directors, allvolunteer leaders mostly from local churches. They, in turn, have organized camps whichhave impacted for Christ the lives of some 1.2 million children and young people. Organization of my theology of education I have chosen to use a philosophical framework that I am familiar with andis now an integral part of my mental framework. The categories were created by WilliamFrankena in 1965 for the express purpose of comparing educational philosophies. Theoriginal intent of the author was to prompt educators to move from a solid philosophicalunderstanding to methodology and practice. Likewise, the thrust of this paper is to promptreflection on my theology so as to inform and guide my educational methodology andpractice. The use of this grid both includes and excludes what I do and what I do notbelieve and allows me to visualize the connection between each of its quadrants. There arefive boxes, as outlined in the Figure 1: Frankena (1965) model of a philosophy ofeducation.
  12. 12. 6 Figure 2: Frankena (1965) model of a philosophy of education Arranging the boxes in concentric circles depicts more clearly that withoutthe Core, Box A, the whole system collapses (Plueddemann, 1992).Figure 3 Frankena (1965) boxes arranged in concentric circles
  13. 13. 7 The boxes will organize my theology of education. Box A will answer thequestion of what is our ultimate purpose on earth, why were human beings created. Box Bwill review numerous points related to the nature of reality, like the nature of God,Creation, persons, the Fall, Redemption, the Church, and epistemology as they relate toeducation. Box C outlines the specific aims of education, informed directly from theultimate purpose. Box D explains the practical implications of my theology as it relates tothe educational concerns of content, curriculum, student, teacher, methodology, andinstitutional structure focused on accomplishing the ultimate purpose and specific aims ofeducation. Box D is informed as well by the nature of reality. Box E would be the practicaloutworking of our theology, what someone could observe if he or she watched us teach. The advantage of visualizing my theology in this framework is to facilitatetesting it from a philosophical point of view. It can be tested by four questions (Downs2012): (1) Consistency (logic): Does the knowledge in one box contradict otherknowledge?, (2) Coherency: Does the content in all the boxes make sense as a whole,relating well to my worldview?, (3) Comprehension: Does this knowledge displayed in theboxes relate to all of the world as we know it, encompassing all experience?, (4)Congruent: Does it match with reality, with what really is? In other words, is it liveable,providing meaning and satisfaction to life? For instance if I say that God has made humanbeings in his image and has conferred on us dignity and value, (Box B), it would beincongruent for me to use a method of teaching that humiliates and ridicules students (BoxD). But, knowing that human beings are fallen, we do not always live according to what weknow to be true. Christians are forgiven but not yet perfected people. This does not excuse
  14. 14. 8hypocrisy but our Biblically informed worldview makes clear that we are fallen, in need offorgiveness and restoration (Coleman 2007). One could conceive of the need for our BoxesD and E to grow closer and closer in alignment with what we believe in Boxes A, B and C. The arrows in the Frankena model demonstrate how each of the quadrants isinterrelated and contiguous upon the other. Our ultimate purpose (Box A) is related to howwe view the nature of reality (Box B). Box D shows the means we use to reach our ultimatepurpose and specific educational aims (Boxes A and C) and are contingent as well on ourview of the nature of what is right and wrong (Box B). At the same time, there will be apractical outworking of our entire theology in the context in which we live and teach (BoxE). One caveat is in order regarding developing a theology of education as withany discussion on philosophy or worldview. Coleman describes it well with the followingscenario: The danger of worldview talk is that it remains just that: talk, talk, talk. Some Christian thinkers have noted this danger. In his own inimitable style, Søren Kierkegaard imagined this scenario. When Christians die and go to heaven they will be confronted by two doors. One will have this sign on it, ‘Heaven.’ The other will have, ‘Lecture on Heaven.’ He thought most Christians would go the lecture! Put another way, the trouble is that worldview thinking can be like sharpening a knife but never cutting anything. Coleman 2007, 23 My hope is that this analysis will sharpen my knife in order to better partnerwith God in the work he has called me to south of the Rio Grande. My prayer for all whoread this paper: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowingwith thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive
  15. 15. 9philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather 1than on Christ” (Col. 2:6-8) .Through the reading of this theology of education I hope tohave clarify the basic principles of Christ and contrast a Christian worldview with some ofthe hollow and deceptive principles of worldly philosophies so that you may be rooted andbuilt up in him, strengthened in the Christian faith and overflowing with thankfulness. 1 Scripture quotations, unless otherwise stated, are cited fromthe HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV). Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011.
  16. 16. BOX A: HUMAN’S ULTIMATE PURPOSE To glorify God and enjoy him forever What is the ultimate purpose of life? Centuries ago, in the WestminsterCatechism, a child was taught to respond to the question what is the chief end of man? withthis answer: To glorify God and enjoy him forever. My husband and I have this veryresponse inscribed on our dining room wall in large letters, placed there to remind ourfamily and all who enter our home what we believe is our raison dêtre. Is 43:7 speaks ofwhy God created us: “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory,whom I formed and made.” John 10:10 speaks of the deep fulfillment that comes fromliving life in relationship with God: “I have come that they may have life and have itabundantly.” This ultimate purpose contrasts with the humanist purpose which could besummarized like this: The chief end of every human being is to become self-actualized andto create a perfect or ideal human society. “To glorify God is a claim of exclusive loyalty; it demands that you place noother gods before him. It asserts that there is a God who will have our devotion. It refuteshumanist autonomy (idol making) and tolerance of other gods (idol worship). The holinessof God is a proper concern of education. The awesome, overwhelming, terror-evokingreality of God is not instrumental. It is an end in itself. Thus the proper goal of humanexistence is indeed ‘to glorify God and enjoy him forever.’ The holiness of God redefinesour life and our purposes” (Brueggemann 1982, 36). 10
  17. 17. 11 God’s glory has its Christian competitors. It is easy to become confusedabout ultimate purpose and with good intentions place Bible knowledge, good churchprograms or social justice activities in Box A. Having children memorize Bible verses canbe a means to godliness, as can be reaching out to the poor in materials goods, but inthemselves they do not automatically contribute to the glory of God. If we place anythingother than God’s glory as our ultimate purpose, they become idols. It is easy to confusemeans with ends. Plueddemann (2007) notes that the issue of motivation plays a role in ourultimate purpose, we can do the right things, but with the wrong motivation. Only Goddiscerns our heart condition, and he is concerned not only with what we do, but also withour motives. People look on outward behavior, but God is more interested in the heart andasks that whatever we do, we do it for his glory (1 Cor 10:31). God’s ultimate purpose for humanity is revealed to us as we look back overhistory from the beginning of time as recorded in the Bible. It is worth noting that themeaning of history from the Christian theistic worldview is that history is compared to aroad or pathway; a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’spurposes for humanity. Titus 1:1-3 alludes to the fact that God’s purposes start before timebegan and continue to be fulfilled at his appointed times. “Paul, a servant of God and anapostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of Gods elect and the knowledge of the truth that leadsto godliness— a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, whodoes not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he broughthis word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior”
  18. 18. 12(Titus 1:1-3). History is a good source for discerning and visualizing God’s ultimatepurpose for humanity. History is linear meaning that the actions of people—as confusing and chaotic and ungodly as they appear—are part of a meaningful sequence that has a beginning, a middle and an end. History is not reversible, not repeatable, and not cyclical; history is not meaningless. History is going somewhere, directed toward a known end. The God who knows the end from the beginning is aware of and sovereign over the actions of humankind. History itself is a form of revelation. History, (especially as localized in the Jewish people) is the record of the involvement of God in human events. History is the divine purpose of God in concrete form. An individual’s choices have meaning to that person, to others and to God. History is the result of those choices that, under the sovereignty of God, bring about God’s purpose for this world. Sire 2004a, 42-43 The Judeo-Christian view of history reveals Gods salvific purposethroughout the centuries. God is an active party; he has taken the initiative and confrontsman. There is a beginning, creation, and an end, when Christ returns. Its optimistic in thelong run, but its pessimistic in the short run, things will get worse before they get better.(Rev 20-21). Figure 2 illustrates a linear timeline of history which serves to visualize theultimate purpose of education from a theological perspective.Figure 4: A linear timeline of history
  19. 19. 13 For the purpose of explaining the illustration in Figure 3: A linear timeline of history, a Map Key has been provided in Table1. A brief paragraph summarizing the main point will be provided below, using Perry Down’s (2011) summary of each of the historical landmark events or epochs. Further on in the paper, each point will be explored more in depth. Table 1: Map Key for a linear timeline of history (Downs 2011)Creation The story begins with the creation narrative, affirming that all that is comes from God. There is no dualism—in the beginning there was only God. The material world emerged from God’s creative will and activity. It was God who created the material world and declared it good.The Fall The peace and beauty of the original creation is quickly marred. The Bible does not tell us why God created Satan—he simply shows up. Unlike Buddhism, which believes in a dualistic reality, Scripture presents Satan as a created being. He is a smooth talker who attacks both God’s word (Has God really said… Gen 3:2) and God’s willingness to act in judgment (You will not surely die… Gen 3:4). The woman believes the lie, the man joins her in eating the forbidden fruit, and God’s Shalom is vandalized, as Plantinga (1995) describes it. The consequences of this act are staggering. The serpent is cursed, the woman is cursed, the man is cursed, and all of creation is cursed. Our first parents were driven from the garden, and the created order has suffered ever since. We now live in a messy, fallen world that, while maintaining aspects of God’s original intention, has been broken and marred by our rebellion.Old In the Genesis 3 narrative appears the proto-evangelism, the first gospel, promising God’s redemptive action inTestament this fallen world. The biblical narrative moves on to tell God’s redemptive activity throughout history as God calls the world back to its original intention and condition. Through the patriarchs, the law, the nation of Israel, and the prophets, the Old Testament tells of God’s redemptive initiative and plans for this fallen world.The Cross The climax of the biblical drama of redemption is the cross, where Jesus offers himself as the final sacrifice to bring about God’s redemption. Just as the implications of the fall were cosmic, so the results of the death of our Lord are cosmic. The Apostle Paul writes, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col 1:19-20). While God’s redemptive work includes the redemption of human beings, it is much larger than that. It extends to the full results of the fall, redeeming all that had been impacted by God’s curse.The The Gospels give tantalizing insight into what the restored order will be like, the lame walk, the deaf hear, andGospels the blind see. Just as significantly, sinners repent and make restitution, and the people proclaim the glory and goodness of God. We see the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom into the created order and have glimpses of what the new order will be like.Now and For now, we live in the now and not yet of the Kingdom of God. It is in us now as the people of God, but it isnot yet of not yet in its fullness. Hence we are taught to pray for the coming of the Kingdom in its fullness. But as wethe wait, we are invited to participate in God’s redemptive activity in the world now. We can call people to bowKingdom before Christ as Lord now, and we can work to return things back to their rightful owner to be used for hisof God glory. A proper view of the task and purpose of education is to understand it within the context of redemption. God is at work in the world redemptively, and we as educators who call ourselves Christian must see our work as a means of participation in God’s redemptive work in the world. Our work as educators must be understood within the larger picture of God’s work in this fallen world.Second The biblical story climaxes at the cross and culminates in the new order envisioned in Revelation 21 and 22.Coming
  20. 20. 14 Education as a redemptive activity In short for Box A, connecting with our ultimate purpose which is to glorifyGod and enjoy him forever, the purpose of education as seen within a theologicalframework and historical timeline is one of participating in God’s redemptive activity. Ifsomeone asks me why I teach, my answer would be: To glorify God and enjoy him foreverby participating with him as an educator in his redemptive activity. Figure 3 illustrates theplace education holds from a theological perspective. Figure 5: Education as a redemptive activity in a linear timeline of history (Downs 2011)
  21. 21. BOX B: THE NATURE OF REALITY Box B in philosophical terms is metaphysical in that it explains reality,answering the questions of what is real, what is out there, and what is it like? This sectionwill generally follow the timeline of history in that it contains brief descriptions of thenature of God, Creation, Persons, Sin, and Redemption. Then I will describe the nature ofthings that relate directly to educational concerns like epistemology, the Church as aninstitution and community of believers, and the role of the Holy Spirit. It should be noted that on each of these subjects entire encyclopedic volumeshave been written by scholars who possess far superior knowledge and understanding thanI. The purpose of this project is not to write down everything that is known on a givensubject but for me to demonstrate a grasp of the basic theological beliefs that I hold anddetail how they influence my practice of education. My guiding question throughout thisprocess has been: How do my theological beliefs matter in reference to my practice as aneducator? 15
  22. 22. 16 1 Nature of God The nature of ultimate reality is God. God is infinite and personal (triune),transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good. God is infinite, meaning he isbeyond scope, beyond measure. He is, in fact, the only self-existent being: “I AM WHO IAM” Ex 3:14.God is personal. God is not a mere force or energy. God is self-conscious, heknows himself to be, and he thinks and acts (self-determination). God is transcendent. Godis beyond us and beyond our world. God is immanent. But not so beyond that he bears norelation to us and our world, he is with us. God is here, everywhere. For God is not matterlike us, but Spirit. God is beyond all, yet in all and sustaining all (Heb 1:3). God isomniscient. God is all-knowing. He is the alpha and the omega and knows the beginningfrom the end (Rev 22:13). God is sovereign. God pays attention to all the actions of hisuniverse. Nothing is beyond God’s ultimate interest, control and authority. God is good.This is the prime statement about God’s character. From it flows all others. God’s goodnessis expressed in two ways, through holiness and through love. Holiness is his absoluterighteousness, there is an absolute standard found in God’s character (I John 1:5). Secondly,God is love (I John 4:16) therefore there is hope for humanity because God is love and willnot abandon his creation (Sire 2004a, 26-44). 1 I am indebted to James Sire (2004a, 2004b) for ideas on the composite I created todescribe the Natures of God, Creation, and Persons from a Christian, humanist (modern), and post-modernworldview.
  23. 23. 17 God is triune. “Within the one essence of the Godhead we have todistinguish three ‘persons’ who are neither three gods on the one side, not three parts ormodes of God on the other, but coequally and coeternally God” (Bromiley 1960). Nature of Creation God created the cosmos as a uniformity of cause and effect in an opensystem. Meaning that the universe is orderly (Is. 45:18-19), there is a regularity to it and thenature of God’s universe and God’s character are closely related. The system is open. Thismeans it is not programmed. God is constantly involved in the unfolding pattern of theongoing operation of the universe. And so are we human beings! The course of the world’soperation is open to reordering (ie. miracles, supernatural occurrences) and we reorder it byour continued activity after the Fall. If the universe were not orderly, our decisions wouldhave no effect. In contrast, a humanistic philosophy sees the natural world existing as auniformity of cause and effect in a closed system. The universe is not open to reorderingfrom the outside—either by a transcendent Being (for there is none) or, by self-transcendentor autonomous human beings (for they are part of the uniformity). Nothing supernaturalexists, there are no such things as miracles; everything can be explained by rationalarguments (Sire 2004a, 26-44). God is qualitatively different from the created world, God is over Hiscreation and the world is dependent upon God (Ps 93). God is in loving and total control ofcreation. He sustains the world. “Creation was the webbing together of God, humans, and
  24. 24. 18all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight in what the Hebrew prophets call Shalom. Inthe Bible, Shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state ofaffairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state ofaffairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator welcomes the creatures in whom hedelights” ((Plantinga 1995, 10). Shalom, in other words, was the way things were in theGarden of Eden, is the way things ought to be now, and will not be again until Christreturns. Creation mandate Why did God make creation? For his glory and good pleasure (Eph 1:3-14).His creation is open and dependent on him as he actively sustains it and allows humanbeings to discover its order, design, and structure. The nature of what God made is that it isgood. On repeated occasions (Gen 1: 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) God’s own evaluation of what hehad created was: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Gen 1:31). “Theinnate goodness of all God has made is inherent in its very structure. Sometimes, given thepervasiveness of the Fall, that good structure is obscured from view for its direction hasshifted from one of goodness to evil” (Wolters 2005). What is our role in creation? Genesis 1:28 gives human beings the creationmandate: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill theearth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over everyliving creature that moves on the ground.’” We are stewards of God’s creation and in thiscapacity we are to know and understand what God has made, being careful not to exploit it
  25. 25. 19for our own selfish good. We are to develop and improve it, since God said it was good, buthe did not declare it as complete, it still needs stewardship. “In the human realm men andwomen become coworkers with God, as creatures made in his image they too have a kindof lordship over the earth, we are God’s viceroys in creation (Wolters 2005, 16). Nature of persons Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Gen1:26-27 Human beings are created in the image of God and thus possess personality,self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, gregariousness and creativity (Gen 1:26-27; Gen5:3; 9:6). We are like God, made in his image, Imago Dei. We are personal because he ispersonal. That is, we know ourselves to be (self-conscious), and we make decisionsuncoerced (self-determination). We are capable of acting on our own; we do not merelyreact to our environment but can act according to our own character, our own nature (Sire2004a, 26-44). Human beings are eternal but not divine. There is life after mans physicaldeath and his spirit will live eternally in heaven or hell depending on whether his name iswritten in the Lambs Book of Life. “Nothing impure will ever enter it [heaven], nor willanyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written inthe Lambs book of life” (Rev 21:27). People have free will, they are not forced to obeyGod. God does not control and coerce us. Pre-destination and free will are a paradox and I
  26. 26. 20believe we must learn to live with that ambiguity. We, like the Triune God who created usare made for community. We are finite beings, capable of knowing, but only subjectivelyand in part. God has structured man to be in relationship with him, we are ordered towardhim, “we have a God-shaped void.” When looking at the nature of persons as learners, children are neither blankslates to write on nor empty vessels to fill. Social scientists have discovered that God hasdesigned human beings to have certain underlying structures and patterns of growth orstages that are universally visible or observable. In a conversation with famed educator TedWard, he compares the stage structure of persons to the framework under a bridge. Thebridge carries the load of the traffic, and the structure bears the weight. With each newstage of growth and development the progression is similar to strengthening the buttressesof the bridge, the buttresses are not removed and replaced, they are solidified. In contrast, Sire (2004a, 214-241), points out a behavioristic view of humanbeings believes that we are complex “machines”; personality is an interrelation of chemicaland physical properties not yet fully understood. Human beings are simply a part of thecosmos. In the cosmos there is one substance: matter. The laws applying to matter apply topersons, they do not transcend the universe in any way. They are however, unique amonganimals because humans alone are capable of conceptual thought, employ speech, possess acumulative tradition (culture) and have had a unique method of evolution (Huxley 1948).Human beings are fundamentally good if they are surrounded by the right environment. A postmodernist would likely believe that there is no substantial self. Humanbeings make themselves who they are by the languages they construct about themselves. So
  27. 27. 21there is a shift from the (1) the “premodern” theistic notion that human beings are dignifiedby being created in the image of God to (2) the “modern” notion that human beings are theproduct of their DNA template, which itself is the result of unplanned evolution based onchance mutations and the survival of the fittest, to (3) the “postmodern” notion that we arewhat we describe ourselves to be. Stories give communities their cohesive character. Peoplebelieve these stories to be true, so they function in society as if they were true. Groups ofpeople believe the same basic story, and the result is more or less stable communities (Sire2004a, 214-241). Nature of sin In the beginning all that God created was good, Adam and Eve enjoyedsweet communion with their God and creator. Creation existed in perfect harmony betweenhumans, animals, and plant life. All was Shalom, the way it was supposed to be. We do notknow how long these conditions existed on earth before one fine day Adam and Eveexercised their free will—in the wrong direction. Tempted by Satan, a former angelic being,they rebelled against God’s command and in that precise moment, the course of historychanged forever. Gen 3:1-24 describes the entire scene, here are the first seven verses: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She
  28. 28. 22 also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. From that point on, life on earth was never the same. Our sins hide God’sface from us (John 1:18). Everything shifted from the way God had designed and structuredit to be, to the way it is not supposed to be, to the wrong direction. Our hearts are no longerGodward oriented, Jeremiah 17:9 describes “the heart as deceitful above all things andbeyond cure. Who can understand it?” To which God himself responds: “I the LORDsearch the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct,according to what their deeds deserve” (Jer 17:10). Sin did not just break man’s relationships but all the elements of creationwere broken, animal and plant life, and even the earth itself. Now people kill animals,animals kill each other, and the earth produces catastrophes like earthquakes, hurricanes,droughts, thorns and thistles. Creation itself groans under the weight of sin (Rom 8:19-22). Sin is not just an act, it is a condition, a propensity to do wrong, a bent to notdo what we ought and to do what we ought not to do. Plantinga notes: “Sin is a religiousconcept... Sin defined is an act or disposition—any thought, desire, emotion, word, ordeed—or its particular absence, that displeases God and deserves blame… It is culpableShalom-breaking” (1995, 13). In contrast, sin in today’s modernist and postmodernist era isa foreign term, even offensive as it implies judgment, and would earn the retort: who areyou to judge me? People’s innate inclination to do wrong is rationalized, justified, glossedover, covered up, and renamed: Mistake, miscalculation, mis-spoken (is that even a word?),
  29. 29. 23moral failure, weakness, caused by low self-esteem, or due to being a victim of some socialill. Sin is pervasive and its very character is often hidden from view. Thefollowing describes with more specificity the nature of sin (Plantinga 1995): Sin begets sin. People rarely commit single sins. Therefore, we tend to sin in clusters. Secrecy fertilizes evil. The works of sin are evident and real, but they carry no solid achievements. Nothing about sin is its own, all it has are stolen goods. Sin has no accomplishments of its own. It draws its life-source from what God intended to be good in creation, and perverts it, re-directing it towards evil. Sin does not build Shalom, it vandalizes it. Goodness is itself; badness is only spoiled goodness. There must be something good first before it can be spoiled. Consider the example of someone who has marvelous gifts of leadership and persuasion, but uses them for evil purposes. Sin is a parasite and must attach itself to God’s created good in order to exist. It is an uninvited guest that keeps tapping its host for sustenance. Sin tends to kill and it reproduces just because, like a virus, it attaches itself to the life force and dynamics of its host. Evil fascinates, and makes people feel strangely drawn to pictures and accounts of sin. With our own sin and often others, we tend to deny, suppress, or minimize what know we know to be true. First we deceive ourselves and then double back to convince ourselves that we are not deceiving ourselves. The presence of evil in creation is tri-fold, Satan, our sinful nature, and theworld under the influence and dominion of Satan. All three of these combine to hinder usfrom fulfilling our ultimate purpose, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The nature ofSatan is to destroy, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they
  30. 30. 24may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). When he lies, he speaks his nativelanguage, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Lies are a distortion of Godstruth. Satan cannot create truth, he can only distort it. With the advent of Christ, Satan islike a wounded beast, knowing his time is limited, he is now in his death throes. “Thereforerejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, becausethe devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short”(Rev 12:12). Satan and the world are like a tag team of wrestlers. The nature of the worldreflects evil because Satan rules and has power over this world. “The god of this age hasblinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the gloryof Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). Our own sinful nature plays into thiswrestling match since as a result of the Fall there is an evil bent that hinders our spiritualgrowth. We are in battle, we will suffer, and be wounded, in need of salvation, healing andliberation from bondage. Sin resulted in four broken relationships Our four relationships were broken and we became alienated from God,ourselves, others, and from the natural world. Table 2 provides a tiny sample of evidencesof our broken relationships.
  31. 31. 25Table 2: Sin resulted in four broken relationships (Downs 2012)With God We are no longer free in God’s presence, rather we hide from him. We became by nature objects of wrath (Eph 2:1-3). We worship idols rather than the Creator.With one’s self We develop self-destructive behaviors. We lose sight of the image of God in ourselves and hate ourselves. We are prideful and believe we can be like God. We give up our freedom to all types of addictions.With others We categorize and separate from others on the basis of differences of race, gender, age, color, size, propensities to sin. We kill and hurt others. We compete with others. We lie, cheat, steal, covet.With God’s creation We fear animals, insects, or plants. We exploit creation with complete disregard to replenish it. We liter, polluting the ground, air and sea. We worship the creation, ignoring the Creator. We misuse the land as if we own it. It should be remembered that any discussion about sin should serve “torenew our memory of the integrity of creation and to sharpen our eye for the beauty ofgrace… To understand sin, you have to see it within the bookends of creation –andredemption. That is why to speak of sin without grace is to minimize the resurrection ofJesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, the hope of Shalom. But to speak of grace without sin issurely no better” (Plantinga 1995, xiii, 10). Having spoken of sin, we conclude that humanbeings were created good, but through the Fall the image of God became defaced, thoughnot so ruined as not to be capable of restoration; through the work of Christ, God redeemedhumanity and began the process of restoring people to goodness (Sire 2004a).
  32. 32. 26 Nature of redemption The nature of redemption builds on the creation mandate in that we are torecognize the goodness of what God originally made, how its inherent structure is good.Then we are to identify, with eyes wide open, the pervasiveness of sin and how it hastainted all that God called good and has pushed it in the wrong direction, disorientating itfrom its original goodness. Finally, we are called to restore God’s goodness, since sincannot completely obscure it from view, and redeem it for God’s original intended use. Lestwe deceive ourselves into thinking this is a purely humanistic project for “do-gooders,” werecognize this plan as conceived of and brought forth by God himself in Gen 3:15 when hesaid to Satan: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between youroffspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” As noted in BoxA, this proto-evangelism, the first gospel, promised God’s redemptive action in this fallenworld. The sacrificial system explained and practiced throughout the Old Testamentforeshadowed the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. The shedding ofblood in animal sacrifices provided a way for God’s People, Israel, to atone for their sins. The climatic act of the redemption story was Christ’s birth, life, and death onthe cross. What gives us human beings the power to restore God’s goodness to his creationis Christ himself who lives within us through his Holy Spirit. Paul describes how God’splan of redemption lives in us, thereby giving to us the message and ministry ofreconciliation.
  33. 33. 27 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:17-21 “God wants Shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin isstubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half soready to suffer to win its way” (Plantinga 1995, 199). Christ suffered on Golgotha and weare called to share in his suffering as “we participate in the ongoing creational work of God,to be God’s helper in executing to the end the blueprint for his masterpiece” (Wolters2005, 44). Some church traditions have conceived of redemption mostly inindividualistic terms, focusing on pietism and the individual’s personal salvation andholiness. Others have understood redemption to be the exclusive domain of the institutionalchurch, claiming that the church is sacred ground and the rest of the world is secular. Thereare not two realms. God created only one realm: creation. There are however, two regimes:God and Satan. Both are battling for dominion over the whole of creation, leaving nothingneutral or undisputed. “Nothing is neutral in the sense that sin fails to affect it or thatredemption fails to hold out the promise of deliverance. … Redemption, then is therecovery of creational goodness through the annulment of sin and the effort toward theprogressive removal of its effects everywhere. We return to creation through the cross,because only the atonement deals with sin and evil effectively at their root” (Wolters 2005,
  34. 34. 2882, 83). Mark 16:15 clarifies that redemption is not just for the individual, but for the entirecommunity, it’s not just for the church, but for the whole world, when Jesus said to hisdisciples: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (italics mine). The use of the prefix re- on many of the words used to describe redemption(see Table 1) denote the going back to an original state, meaning that salvation does notbring anything new, but brings new life and vitality to what was there all along (Wolters2005, 69).Table 3: Use of the prefix re- in synonyms for redemption Re-storation Re-conciliation Re-generation Re-claimed Re-newal Re-creation Re-instated Re-formation Re-covery Man is in need of a Savior Man is separated from God because of his sinful condition and his sins, onlythrough Jesus Christ can we be reconciled with him. “For if, when we were Gods enemies,we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (Rom 5:10). Jesus answered, “Iam the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6). “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heavengiven to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “For the wages of sin is death, butthe gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Salvation comes bygrace through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. “That if you confess with your mouth,‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will besaved” (Rom 10:9). Conversion is a distinctive and life-changing experience which may
  35. 35. 29take place at one given moment or in the case of those raised in a Christian home may comegradually culminating with the definite realization that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.His desire is that all would be saved. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Christ died for everyone. “For God soloved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall notperish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The story of redemption for a 10-year boy If I were to describe the redemption story in terms my ten-year old sonwould understand, I would describe creation as a perfect world, complete harmony,everything and everyone completely good, not a piece of junk it in. Then Satan invades theGarden of Eden because Adam and Eve gave him permission. He is the evil usurper and theFall ushers in sin which ruins every single thing in creation. Nothing has escaped its stain.However, creation still retains its God-given goodness. Sin does not belong so evil willnever be on par with good. But, clearly, creation is occupied territory by Satan and hisdemons. However, God has a plan: Throughout the Old Testament God formed a people,Israel, with the mission to bring his redemption to earth. A counter offensive is launched byGod in Jesus Christ, to reclaim His rightful domain. The King of kings lays claim to hisKingdom through his powerful miracles, preaching, and signs of wonder. Christ establishesa foothold in creation; a beachhead like the Allied forces did on D-Day at Normandy.While Jesus was on earth he clearly demonstrated who the boss was. Even the evil spiritsobeyed him and acknowledged his Kingship and power. D-Day has happened, but V-Day is
  36. 36. 30yet to come, like in WWII. We live in the times between the invasion and victory. We areassured of victory, but still need to engage in fighting a fierce battle. The battle for creationstill has its casualties, and you will die if God does not save you. The problem is thatbecause Adam and Eve sinned, the whole human race got contaminated with the deadlydisease of sin. We deserve to die. God is holy. We are not. God wants you to join his army,he has chosen you to be on his team. But the only way we can get on God’s team is if wepair up with God’s Son, Jesus. We must become partners for life, with him being the boss.Once you join up, it’s a pact for life. God has called you to fight this kind of spiritual battle,you need to learn how to fight, he has given us special armor and weapons, and best of allsince we are on his team, he promises us his company, the Holy Spirit living within us.Plus, we do not fight alone; we are part of God’s army, the church, made up of manymembers, both here where we live, as well as all around the world. Remember, when Goddecides its time, Jesus will come back and restore his Kingdom and renew heaven and earthwith a new city with the best of all civilization, unmarred by sin. For now, this whole timeGod is holding back evil, so it does not completely take over creation, in order that as manypeople as possible can be brought into his Kingdom. When Jesus returns, Satan will be castout and defeated forever. Common grace “For now, God is holding back evil.” The doctrine of common grace is thebelief that there is a non-salvific attitude of divine favor toward all human beings, a type ofdivine empathy, manifested in several ways, as described by Mouw (2001).
  37. 37. 31 1. The bestowal of natural gifts, such as rain and sunshine, upon creatures in general. 2. The restraining of evil/sin in human affairs, so that the unredeemed do not produce all of the evil that their depraved nature might otherwise bring about. 3. The ability of unbelievers to perform acts of civic good. 4. God’s direct sustaining, up-holding activity upon creation without which the earth would self-destruct. Due to common grace we can, through discernment, identify traces of theSpirit’s work in the larger creation and in all people. We will never go anywhere whereGod himself has not first been, nor will we meet anyone, whom God has not loved first andsought after. We partner with God, playing a part of his story with his creatures and all ofcreation. Second coming-Shalom restored There are many passages that speak of the “not yet” aspect of God’sKingdom, like in Rom 8:30 when Paul writes that “those he predestined, he also called;those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” We anticipate thatglorification in the end times. Jesus, when he administered the Last Supper to his disciplesspeaks about the Kingdom of God in a future sense (Mark 14:25; Luke 22:16-18). The finalepisode of the now and not yet Kingdom of God promises to be a grand finale that “no eyehas seen, no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God hasprepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). We can only imagine what the new heavens
  38. 38. 32and new earth will be like if we contemplate the very best that this life has to offer and thenmultiply it umpteen times. Within church traditions there are many different interpretations of the exacttiming and sequence of events regarding the end times, but one thing all Christians agree onis that Jesus is coming back in person (John 14:3; Acts 1:11). Another aspect of Christ’sreturn will be the restoration of creation into a new heaven and a new earth. We will notreturn to the Garden of Eden, but Shalom will be restored in the heavenly city of NewJerusalem. For the rest of eternity, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom ofour Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15). Epistemology: How do we know? Downs (2012) rightly points out that education centers on theepistemological question of knowing. We aim in education for students to know God and toknow the Bible, but before we can proceed with this task, we must ask how we can knowanything. Human beings can know the world around them and God himself becauseGod has built into them the capacity to do so and because he takes an active role incommunicating with them. God is the all-knowing knower of all things, so we can be thesometimes knowing knowers of some things (John 1:1-9). God’s intelligence is thus thebasis of human intelligence. Knowledge is possible because there is something to beknown—God and his creation. Knowledge is possible because there is someone to know—the omniscient God and human beings made in his image. God has structured the cosmos so
  39. 39. 33that it is intelligible, orderly and meaningful. By using our senses we can comprehend thissubjectively, not flawlessly, because the Fall effected creation (Sire 2004a). General revelation and Special revelation Truth exists and it can be known. “The fact that truth exists and we canknow it is because of God’s divine revelation, both the General revelation (creation which‘speaks’ of the greatness of God) and His Special revelation (the Word which holds therecord of redemptive history). Psalm 19 speaks of both of these revelations. As believers,we must value both man’s inquiry into General revelation through science and his inquiryinto theology; nevertheless, we recognize that both are prone to error” (Downs 2012). Onthe basis of this doctrine of divine revelation, both General and Special revelation have acommon source (God) and he reveals truth in both modes. Downs explains the “notion ofthe unity of truth which declares that ultimately all that is true fits together into a unifiedwhole and therefore can be known in a reliable way… Revelation is absolute, but ourunderstanding of it is relative” (2011, 104). In General revelation God speaks through the created order of the universe,Rom 1:19-20; Ps 19:1-2, which includes history as well. This knowledge is available to allof humankind and we will be held accountable for what we do with that knowledge.General revelation has access to our conscience, to our reason: The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being
  40. 40. 34 understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Rom 1:18-20 Special revelation is God’s disclosure of himself in the Bible and insupernatural ways, like when God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and when he gavethe Ten Commandments to Moses. Heb 1:1-3 makes it clear that Jesus Christ is God’sultimate Special revelation. Jesus has made God known to us in very fleshly terms (John1:1, 14). In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Heb 1:1-3 Epistemologically speaking, the Bible is the quintessential source of trueknowledge, against which all other knowledge is examined and interpreted, whether that beknowledge gained through our reason, our experiences or that of others. This Christianepistemology is utter foolishness to a rationalist, empiricist, or intuitivist who recognize noauthoritative source of truth outside of themselves. Table 4 provides a summary of General and Special revelation (Downs2011, 2012).
  41. 41. 35Table 4: Summary of General and Special Revelation (Downs 2011, 2012) Categories General revelation Special revelationContent Speaks generally about the existence of a Holds the record of redemptive history and creator and something of the greatness of the the mystery of the cross which is not creator. Includes the natural law of created possible to hear and understand from order. looking at creation.Audience Open to all people everywhere. Anyone can Not available to all people because it is look at nature and see the fingerprints of the understood only by those to whom God has Creator. given his Spirit (1 Cor 2:14)Particulars It is because of General revelation that all The purpose of parables was to hide the people are responsible for knowledge of God. truth. (Mark 4:9-12) The invitation to believe is open and revealed to all.Inquiry Natural and social sciences, arts, humanities Theology in its many different forms is the(since both are human are the means of disciplined inquiry disciplined means of inquiry (Biblical,endeavors, they are Historical, Systematic, Applied, etc.)prone to error)Noted in Scripture Rom 1:19-20, Ps 19:1-6, Ps. 8:1-4 Heb 1:1-3, Ps 19:7-10, 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21 The witness of the Holy Spirit is also a means of knowing as is reason andintuition. God gave man a rational, logical mind, and all truth being Gods truth, man canfind truth in the world around him. “The Christian educator can incorporate Gods truthwherever it may be revealed in the created world in ways that reflect humanitys God-givencreativity” (Pazmiño, 1988,13). The hiddenness and mystery of truth Although we make disciplined inquiries into General revelation through thesciences and into Special revelation through theology as well as “undisciplined inquiries”through personal Bible study and life in general, since we are finite and flawed humanbeings we will not achieve a full inerrant interpretation and understanding of divine
  42. 42. 36revelation. Moreover, there is a hiddenness to our knowing of truth, much like the way wesee a round sphere, like the moon. We can only see part of it, there is another part hidden tous. That hiddenness may be visible to others because they have a different vantage point.This leads me to affirm the communal nature of truth, not just because others contributeunique insights, but because God’s truth is so rich so as to need a plurality of others’perspectives and interpretations to do it justice (Meek 2003). The Prophet Isaiah in chapter 55:8-9 paints a picture for us to envision justhow finite our knowledge is compared to God’s, how much mystery there is to life, andhow far we are of ever understanding God’s ways and thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 “For mythoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Asthe heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and mythoughts than your thoughts.” In education, our model of knowledge has to accept mysteryand be at peace with not knowing what God is doing. Likewise, we must respectfullyhesitate or proceed with the utmost caution in trying to explain why God does what he does.It is far safer to say: I do not know why God allowed this or that to happen, but I can speakto you of his character, of who he is. My own personal reflections on how I know What starts my knowing? I believe knowing has a number of differentsources, one such source are directions, like a book that I read, a teacher I listen to, or anexpert I dialogue with. The more authoritative I consider the source to be (like Specialrevelation), the more confident I feel about my knowing. In addition to receiving directions,
  43. 43. 37a second way my knowing is “kick-started” are “trigger events.” When an unforeseencircumstance occurs, like my mother’s death, or some dilemma disorients me, like when myhusband and I struggled with infertility. God uses these events to trigger the beginning orthe continuation of an act of knowing. These trigger events usually make me realize that myold way of thinking, of making meaning, do not work. I cannot make sense of myexperience, which leads me to another source of knowing which is my lived experience.While this may sound quite “post-modern,” my own reactions, feelings, intuition, andimagination can serve as a guiding force to knowing, or at least can give me clues. Clues are important to my acts of knowing because God made us with aninnate desire to make sense of our world. All I am living, hearing, experiencing, reading,receiving through directions, or trying to figure out are not isolated pieces of information,they are clues. If each clue were a dot, I find myself going through the process ofconnecting the dots to make a pattern. Over a sustained period of time, suddenly orprogressively, I will “get it.” The best analogy I have read about this “getting it” comparedit to focusing on a “three-dimensional magic eye” (Meek 2003). Magic eyes are thosepictures that you have to stare at for a while until you finally focus in on the image withinthe image (like the dolphin within the blur of what looks like a jumble of dots). Somepeople are very adept at doing that; others of us take a while to finally focus. I see myself,over the years, getting better and better at focusing. What does it take to focus? To finally bring the initially unseen object intofocus takes the integration of active and skilled human efforts. Skills are required likecritical thinking, reflection in action, and a commitment to act on what I know, even though
  44. 44. 38I am not 100% certain (Brookfield 1987). I have had to learn to identify and challenge myown assumptions, beliefs, values, and biases in light of Scripture as well as what others sayand believe. I have to hold onto the focal pattern, if I look away, I can quickly lose sight ofthe image, likewise, to really know more, I have to sustain my focus over time. I have seen evidence of this in my own life with the death of my motherwhen she was 60 years of age. After she died, I distinctly remember focusing on thisdiscovery: “Things don’t always turn out the way you think they should or planned.” I hadgrown up believing that for us as Christians, if we lived the way the Bible taught us, thingswould work out well. When my mother got sick, we prayed, we believed in faith Godwould heal her of cancer, but he chose not to even though my mother was a very godlywoman. That trigger event, as I grappled with its implications, reflected on it with others,and talked to God about it, brought into focus that simple truth. It wasn’t until years later,when my husband and I struggled with infertility that I discovered a partner truth pattern:Indeed, things don’t always turn out the way you think they should or planned; but, Godalways has our best in mind. Knowing that truth, my husband and I acted accordingly, weheld a private campfire ceremony where we conscientiously relinquished our natural desiresfor biological children (which we had written down) and offered them up to the Lord as aburnt sacrifice. We committed to embracing God’s best for our lives, with joy and hope forthe future, knowing we were surrounded by a noble cloud of witnesses who had also notreceived on earth the promise that was given to them (Heb 11). (Side note: God, in hissovereignty, miraculously enabled me to get pregnant—twice—in spite of a medicalcondition that completely precluded it! God gave us two miracle children!)
  45. 45. 39 So, in summary, I know because of the authority of the source itself, becauseof my own personal experience sustained over a period of time, because of the experienceand reasoning of others whom I trust, and because the knowledge has been tested with myown God-given reason in action and found to be tried and true. I believe acts of knowinginvolve both cognition and action, the Bible says you cannot know apart from doing, lestyou deceive yourself (James 1:22-25). To contrast my Christian theistic epistemology with the perspectives of arationalist, empiricist and postmodernist, I have drawn from Sire’s book, The universe nextdoor: A basic worldview catalog (2004a, 214-241). Within the worldview of rationalism orempiricism, one would believe that human reason is how human beings know anything.One needs only accept what is based on facts and observation and on the assured results ofscientific investigation or scholarship. Human beings have the power to reason and thinkrationally. Individuals have the power and autonomy to define themselves. Man creates hisown destiny. A postmodernist might counter that we do not “know”, we “construct”meaning. Knowledge is not discovered because it does not exist and even if it does, it is amystery. Truth is a human construct; it is not something external to us, outside of us,derived from a God (who does not exist). To claim to have truth applicable to everyone elseis to risk an imperialistic intolerance towards others. Human beings can have meaning, forall one’s stories are more or less meaningful but one cannot have truth. Nothing one thinkscan be checked against reality. Apart from human’s linguistic systems, no one can knowanything. All language is a human construct; it does not determine the “truthfulness” of thelanguage, only the usefulness. Example: Truth is whatever we can get our colleagues (our
  46. 46. 40community) to agree to. If we can get them to use our language, then—like the “strongpoets” Moses, Jesus, Plato, Freud—our story is as true as any story will ever get. No one’sstory is truer than anyone else’s story. Does your story work? That is, does it satisfy theteller? Does it get you what you want—say a sense of belonging, a peace with yourself, ahope for the future, a way to order your life? It’s all one can ask, so says postmodernism. Role of Holy Spirit in education “Education is grounded in the pedagogical efficacy of the Holy Spirit,although human teachers (and parents) play a crucial role. The Spirit works as the innerteacher who invites, persuades, and (trans)forms us but does not coerce or control us”(Hodgson 1999, 30). Hodgson clarifies how God teaches through educing or leading forththe human spirit, drawing out our intrinsic capabilities, how education is really growth inwisdom which is evoked by God’s wisdom, and how God himself is our teacher. The earlychurch fathers, Origen, Gregory, Augustine, Aquinas, and others, saw the Holy Spirit as thewise educator, the Inner School Master, the interpreter of God’s Word. Hodgson quotesAquinas: “God alone teaches interiorly and principally while humans teach man exteriorlyand secondarily” (Hodgson 1999, 60). This quote elevates the Holy Spirit to his properplace and places us human being in our rightful place. Before I teach, I would always prayfor the Holy Spirit to illuminate the students, but often it was a perfunctory prayer, with measking for the Holy Spirit’s help, as if I was the Master Teacher! I understand that humanteachers do not displace the Holy Spirit, but rather work through him, since only the HolySpirit can penetrate minds and hearts. It today’s overlapping ages of modernity and
  47. 47. 41postmodernity, it well to remember Calvin’s insight that the “illumination of the HolySpirit replaces the inner light of reason.” Teachers would teach to no effect were it not forthe inner Schoolmaster—God’s teaching is foolishness to us unless it is spirituallydiscerned (1 Cor 2:6-16)., Being immersed in the waters of humanism, I confess to havingattributed to myself as a teacher, a far greater role than deserved! I recognize my finitenessas a human teacher, and utter dependence on God to illuminate the minds of the students. Nature of the church as an institution and as a community The Church universal, meaning down through the ages and all around theworld, serves as a type of school, the school of the Holy Spirit. Hodgson rightly points outthat a “certain structuring or ordering of the work of the Holy Spirit is required to resist theclaim of anyone—fanatics, tyrants, psychopaths, televangelists, white supremacists,ordinary citizens—to be inspired by the Spirit and to speak on behalf of God” (1999, 33).The Church structures and organizes the accumulated knowledge of God gathered downthrough the ages into coherent doctrine and orthodoxy. This “school” has persons appointedto specific offices: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher, as Eph 4:11-13 informsus. So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:11-13 This “school” is the Body of Christ and as a community forms a powerfulrole in education. “The church—the people of God—is essential to the gospel. Jesus, the
  48. 48. 42head of the church, made provision for the communication of the good news to manydifferent cultures in the succeeding centuries by forming a community to be bearer of thisgood news. The identity of that community is formed by its mission—its being sent byJesus—to make known the good news of the Kingdom” (Wolters 2005, 122). God’s plan isthat the church both communicate and embody the good news, giving the world a live,three-dimensional picture of his Kingdom. Acts 2:42-47 paints a vivid picture of how theearly church embodied this good news. Our mission is to do Christs work; the church is thelocus or place of these eschatological realities. It is the place where Jer 31:31-34 and Is 9:7take place, we are justified, being sanctified, the Spirit is present, and social justice is inpart reflected. The Church is Gods instrument to continue Christs work. We are to beChrists representatives in this world, we are his hands to reach out to touch hurting people,we are his feet to take the gospel to those who have not heard the Good News. “I tell youthe truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do evengreater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). The church is toreflect what heaven is going to be like. The concept of community within a Western individualistic society isdifficult to grasp. The Epistles strive to convey the communitarian nature of church with theuse of the phrase “one another.” These are just a few references: 1 Cor 12:25, 16:10; Gal5:13, 6:2; Eph 2:18, 4:2, 4:25, 5:20-21… The message of redemption in the individual isevidenced in the community through other-centered love and care for “one another.” Otherconcepts related to the church include the fact that she is the Bride of Christ (Rev 21:9) ,she is a Body, made of many parts (1 Cor 12:27).
  49. 49. BOX C: AIMS OF EDUCATION What are the specific aims of education? For many, education aims to dumpcontent on the students or tell them what they need to know in the most time-efficient way.Some educators may see their aim on more pragmatic grounds like teaching certain skills,helping their students get jobs, or be more marketable. I believe, as noted in Box A, thateducation is a redemptive activity in the now and not yet Kingdom of God. Every act in the name of education could be used by God to provide redemption in the sense of restoring Shalom, and restoring things back to how they ought to be for both the learner and the larger community. Like Jesus, our teaching should grow out of special motive that seeks the good of the other and the glory of God. It should be understand as a means by which God’s grace might be realized better by the learner because we teach with the vision of the Kingdom informing both our activity and our content. Downs 2011, 111 Aim: Development towards Christlikeness Being that our ultimate purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, theone who lived on earth and brought him the greatest glory was his son, thus the aim ofeducation to promote development towards Christlikeness. We want to promote the kind ofgrowth that will enable us to glorify him the most. “Dear friends, now we are children ofGod, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when heappears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). Paul speaks of his 43
  50. 50. 44 efforts to see Christ formed in the believers, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal 4:19; Eph 4:13). The greatest need of the human race is to regain the completeness of the image of God which was lost in the Fall. The reason we are not able to glorify God in all that we think and do is because we have been children of the Devil. Christ died and rose again in order for us to be restored. We must be born again into Gods family. Then we need to grow more and more into the likeness of Christ. This is the aim of Christian education -- to be born into Gods family and to mature toward the likeness of Christ. Our aim is to promote natural and supernatural growth. Yet, we know that we shall not be like Him until we see Him as He is. In some sense, then, we can never fully achieve the aim of Christian education this side of heaven. Plueddemann 2007, 3 This aim contrasts greatly with a more humanistic aim of education which believes in human reason and effort to find its way toward the truth and perfection with no outside help needed. Table 5 contains a number of aims contrasted with mis-directed aims. Table 5 Aims from a Christian perspective contrasted with mis-directed aims (Plueddemann 2007)Aims of development from a Christian perspective Mis-directed aims of developmentGrowth is an inner, active and continuous process toward becoming all Growth is aimed at outward behavioral character traits thatGod created us to become (imago dei). To be sure, outward behavior must are pre-determined and measureable and quantifiable. Thischange as we become more Christ-like. But such behavior is an indication aim results in measuring religious behavior or religiosityof heart development, and is not an aim. When the indicator, or outward rather than inner "heart development.” People with politebehavior becomes an aim, we are really teaching people to become character traits are not necessarily godly people.pharisaical.Aims are not end points, but directions. We can never check off the list of Development is aimed at educational activity since we arethe fruit of the Spirit as something finally accomplished. We can never able to observe and quantify activity, and since we feel ourfully say we have accomplished love, so now it is time for us to get to aims must be measurable; our unconscious aim becomeswork on joy, and next year peace, and maybe before I die Ill get to self- educational activity. Outward behavior is not a guaranteecontrol. Growth in grace is never fully achieved in this life, but it does of inner spiritual growth. Some of the most evil peoplegive us an aim or a direction. Faith, hope and love do not evidence throughout history have been knowledgeable of the Bible.themselves in pre-determined and fully predicted behaviors. Our aim must Satan probably would have no trouble getting a perfectbe to promote a process rather than to predict a product. That process is score on our Bible diagnostic exams.growth -- both natural and spiritual growth.Although Bible knowledge is important. Lois LeBar (1989) taught that the Bible knowledge produces automatic growth in godliness,Bible is a means for promoting growth and is not an end. Our greatest so Bible memorization is the aim of Christian Educationdanger in Christian education is that we make the means the end. The and is achieved by offering prizes and rewards.result will be merely external or "outer" development.The aim of the teacher, then, is to stimulate conditions and processes A different extreme is to say aims are not necessary at all.which are most likely to foster the process of growth. Some say we should just teach the Bible and let the Holy Spirit determine aims for the learner. Yet Scripture does give us aims.
  51. 51. 45 Nature of development What might that development look like through the lifespan of a person?Social scientists like Piaget (1936, 1963), Kohlberg (1968), Selman (2003), Flavell (1968),Fowler (1995), Erikson (1959) and others have studied General revelation and discoveredthat God has designed human beings to have certain underlying structures and patterns ofgrowth or stages that are universally visible or observable (although they may notacknowledge God). Plueddemann (2004) describes the nature of growth and development. • While most human development is slow and almost imperceptible there are many suggestions of growth spurts and radical changes in the process. • The butterfly develops in stages from the egg to caterpillar to butterfly. The human body grows in spurts and progresses from infancy to puberty to adulthood. • The human brain develops in spurts or stages (Sousa 2005) which coincide with the stages Piaget observed in cognitive development. • Anthropologists observe stages of growth of individuals in every culture from infancy, childhood, early adulthood later adulthood. • Social development takes place in stages from being ego-centric to peer- centric. • Theologians look at least three stages of spiritual development: justification, sanctification and glorification. Each stage is qualitatively different than the previous stage (an ever-present theological debate centers around the possibility of stages of sanctification.) • Cognitive development takes place in stages from intuitive, to contextual reasoning to abstract reasoning. • The development of reasoning about moral issues moves from an ego-centric perspectivism to an theo-centricism perspectivism to a universalizing perspective. • It is possible that faith, or reasoning about why we believe things also moves through stages of egocentricism to ethnocentricism to a Theocentrism. Social scientists have discovered the very structures God has forged intohuman beings from their creation. The doctrine of creation reveals that all human beings arecreated with the potential of growth and development so therefore the Holy Spirit can work
  52. 52. 46through the very structures he designed. For example: Disequilibrating experiences ortrigger events, allowed or engineered by the Holy Spirit can be the means by whichdevelopment is promoted. Another example of how the Holy Spirit may work is bybringing people into our lives who have the exact gift mix we may need at a given time,gifted people who God uses to prompt us to grow. Development, spoken in theological terms, is the process of sanctification(1 Thess 4:3). Wolters (2005) defines this process whereby the Holy Spirit, in and throughthe people of God, purifies creation from sin on the basis of Christ’s atonement and victory.Jesus describes the process in Matt 12:33: “He told them still another parable: ‘Thekingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds offlour until it worked all through the dough.’ ” The gospel is a leavening influence in humanlife wherever it is lived. An influence that slowly but steadily brings change from the insideout. Development aimed at becoming conformed to the image of Christ, is also calleddiscipleship. You would anticipate seeing inward growth evidenced in outwardreconciliation in all four relationships, starting with salvation with God and obedience tothe Great Commandment to love God with all your heart and mind and strength. Then,reconciliation may be seen in deepening your identify in Christ, as well as reconciling withothers and fulfillment of the Great Commandment to love others as you love yourself.Redemption would likely include reaching out to others through the Great Commission aswould care for creation and society at large.

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