Education and the Gospel

Education and the Gospel

For as long as I can remember, I have had a strong desire to learn.  My grandparents had a 1968 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia that they had purchased for their children.  I remember those off-white covers with green accents and gold lettering.  The information these books contained fascinated me as a kid, so I set out to read every volume!  Education was strongly encouraged as I grew up, with the understanding that it did not occur only at school.  My grandparents were hard workers – Grandpa was a maintenance supervisor for 7-11 stores and ran a home repair business in the hours he was not at his full-time job, and Grandma ran her household as well as working various jobs to support the family when Grandpa’s health had him bed-ridden from time to time.  However, they did not have much in their retirement years in terms of financial resources, so they strongly encouraged me to acquire as much education as I could in order that I might be successful. 

It was clear, though, that this pursuit of education was never to be divorced from the faith that my grandparents had shared with me from my earliest days.  Knowledge was a noble thing to pursue, to be sure, but it was not the end in itself.  If God was the Author of all true knowledge and wisdom, then it followed that the accumulation of that knowledge and wisdom should be for His glory above all else.  In part, this meant that the highest knowledge that I could pursue would be knowledge of God Himself, which could only be attained through a diligent and consistent study of His Word.  After all, it is through His Word that He has revealed Himself to us – His character, His attributes, and His redemptive plan for us.  Indeed, the study of God in His revealed Word provided the lens through which those subjects we might otherwise identify as secular (the maths, sciences, and humanities) could be rightly and properly understood.  I was blessed to have grown up in a public school system in northeast Georgia where the teachers, by and large, were themselves believers who held to that same perspective.  My high school science teacher, for instance, refused to teach Darwinian evolution because there was no way to reconcile it with Scripture.  Every teacher had a Bible on their desk.  That kind of environment was an exception in the 1990s and it would be even more of one today, which is why it is critically important that we teach our children to value education – especially knowledge of the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

C. S. Lewis once said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”  What we must realize about Lewis’s statement is that he was referring to explicitly Christian values.  After all, there is no such thing as a value vacuum – every single person has a set of values by which he or she operates.  Today, we are seeing the consequences of the last few generations of educational philosophers who have disregarded the truth of Lewis’s observation.  Parents and grandparents, I encourage you to create an environment within your homes that emphasizes learning in all areas of life, but always through the lens of Scripture.  Those of us who are parents and grandparents have that primary responsibility.  However, I also encourage the church as a whole to offer this same encouragement for our young people.  Celebrate their achievements and challenge them to continue learning about God – both in terms of who He is and what He has created.  Rather than raising up a new generation of “more clever devils,” let’s strive to see those young men and women who have been entrusted to our care become filled with a Gospel-saturated knowledge.  Just something to think about…


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