Education, Christianity, and the Growth in all Knowledge


For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:9-14

As  School bells get ready to ring in the start of a new year in the Panhandle of Texas, I cannot help but to reflect on education and knowledge.

Jacob Spener started a movement within Lutheranism that was later paralleled in the Church of England and has direct ties to the Methodist heritage that I attempt to subscribe to. Writing in the mid 17th century, he emphasized the need for education of laity and clergy alike. The calvinists already had a spread and span of education because of the importance they placed on exploring God’s creation. This attitude carried through all of the protestants with equal vigor – it’s the precursor or the foundation upon which the enlightenment was built.

I find Christianity lacking in this drive for education and exploration now.

It’s almost like we took a back seat in the early 1900s and have left the exploration to the more secular.

What for?

Are we hiding back? It’s a great wide world to explore out there. We should get to it.

All that said, I want to take Spener’s points of education as they are: essential. Wesley and others in England are kindred spirits in this endeavor. And this little passage from Colossians will help me out in this cause.

Spener saw the need for laity and clergy alike to know the will of God and to live it out, but this is not the result of mere studying. Studying by rote, memorization alone, the allowing words to pace through our heads is not enough… Frankly, memorization of trivial facts for recitation is not enough. Education might contain times and find uses for such, but that’s not it’s purpose and goal.

God did not leave us a step by step guide for every day of our lives. Nor did he leave a framework for simply constructing a model by which we could predict ‘what Jesus would do’… Scripture instead offers a narrative of salvation and a picture of practices rooted in a community participating in that narrative of salvation.

Primary among that narrative is the idea that Christ is with us. He did not leave us anything for our day to day lives, he reunited us with God that we might walk humbly with God. Scripture invites us in and shows us the means by which we can test if our companion is God or a guide to destruction.

Education then is the process by which we teach people to think, to grasp, to understand, to express, to introspect, to work, to analyze towards one purpose. It is the purpose of living into salvation, living into obedience to God. It is the ability to seek and hear his voice.

It is inordinately complex and inherently simple and more than anything it is essential for both Laity and Clergy.

Teachers, students, parents, communities – remember this is your purpose in educating your kids: To teach them history so that they know the stories of where they came from and where they are; To teach math that they may be able to see the beauty of an ordered creation; To teach science that they may see the wonders of the works of God’s hand and grow humble in the scope and scale of creation; To teach language that they may learn to think, speak, write with clarity to God and in praise of God.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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