Toward a Philosophy of Christian Education
Copyright 2012 by Byron West
Published by Smashwords
TOWARD A PHILOSOPHY OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (emphasis added). The final words recorded in Matthew’s gospel come from Jesus articulating how to make disciples. The emphasis should not only focus on the how to, but on the ultimate goal of Christian education. James Montgomery Boice remarked in his sermon on the Great Commission, “Christ commanded us to teach them ‘to obey everything’ (or all things), which means that for all Christians a lifetime of learning must follow conversion and membership in Christ’s church.” The command spans time. We must make disciples. Our leader commissioned us to do so. He even gave us the content: all that he has commanded. How does one make disciples? When an artist takes a brush to a canvas, the end for which they paint has a definitive quality. In Christian education what is the definitive quality, or set of qualities, a finished disciple will have? An explanation of the goals, purposes, methods, and curricular components of Christian education drawn from scripture and external sources will follow, as well as an introduction to the role and responsibility of educators, students, and parents in the context of education. This work will conclude with discussion of various philosophies of education in addition to evaluative methods.
The Goals of Christian Education
Readers will find one of the most compelling introductions and calls to faithful deliverance of the Gospel in John Piper’s work The Future of Justification. In it he writes, “If we do not feed the sheep in our charge with ‘the whole counsel of God,’ their blood is on our hands.” Teachers have to recognize the weight and responsibility of their calling. Teaching carries with it a heavy burden, yet no greater joy exists than seeing a student's life transformed. The goal of Christian education is life change, not mere knowledge transfer. The overarching premise behind everything the Christian educator does should offer life change as the ultimate result. Teaching never ends at knowledge transfer. James, the brother of Jesus wrote, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”