Hello everyone, I wrote this short article as part of a job application form I was filling in for work as a piano tutor at a Christian school in Sydney. I thought I would share it here for anyone who is interested in a summary of my own views on Christian education. The material is largely influenced by what I’ve read in the past year in “The Defense of The Faith”, by Cornelius Van Til. Also, the expression, “The Universal System of Reality”, comes from Jonathan Edwards’, “Treatise on the Nature of True Virtue.”
I hope you enjoy the article.
The Christian Philosophy of Education
Man is made in God’s image. Therefore man’s own nature is a spring of the knowledge of the truth as it is in God. Man knows that God is eternal, and that God is the source of all goodness, and that all created things depend on Him absolutely for their existence and continuance, and that to delight in God, and so to glorify Him, is all of man’s ultimate good. (In summary of what precedes: man has a knowledge of the fundamentals of the universal system of reality, though he does not, and cannot ever, have a comprehensive knowledge of it.)
However, mankind are fallen in their father Adam. Therefore, man suppresses the knowledge that he has of God. Nonetheless, man remains a creature bearing the image of God, and therefore his nature remains a spring of the knowledge of the truth as it is in God. It is only because of their knowledge of this truth that they can live or think with any coherence. Even if they never consciously think to themselves, “I know God” (as K. Scott Oliphint says), their knowledge of God is “logically more fundamental” (Van Til) to all their other knowledge, and they actually do appeal to their knowledge of the attributes of God whenever they gain any other knowledge at all.
It is because they have this knowledge that they are capable of gaining any other knowledge. Knowing these things, we as Christians devote ourselves to others’ education in the hope of doing so successfully, even if those whom we seek to teach are not believers. However, fundamental coherence in knowledge can only be found in the saving knowledge of Christ, and love to Christ.
The things told to us in the gospel are of infinitely the greatest importance. These things, more closely and urgently than any other subjects, concern the welfare of all human beings we shall ever have contact with. The sinful nature of fallen man is prone to forget these things and be confused about them and rebel against them. So, it is our duty to speak of these things, and to speak of them with seriousness and fear and love and concern, and so ought we to study to communicate most effectively the relationship between the things reported to us in the gospel and all other things which we might have occasion to speak of. Preceding this, if we love our own souls, we must study for ourselves the connections between the gospel and all other things. We cannot communicate these things effectively to others if we do not have a knowledge of them for ourselves.
So, we ought to desire the progress of our students in whatever knowledge we seek to impart to them. But we ought not to make our students’ gaining of knowledge, or their passing of exams, or their attainment of particular careers, to appear to them as our greatest desire concerning them, and we ought not to seek to influence them to such a desire as though it were the matter of the greatest importance to them. Our desire concerning them ought to be that they be saved, and do all their duty with all their heart, whether in study or any other work.
We also ought not to motivate them ultimately by the fear of man, or the fear of ourselves, but by the fear and love of God.
We also ought to seek to communicate with all patience, and learn to communicate with students of all levels of ability and understanding, and explain and re-explain concepts when it is evident that they have not been understood.