The first task for all of us, as Christian educators, is to explain why education is important and why one should devote his or her precious time to such an endeavor. Fortunately for us, the Bible gives pretty clear instruction on this topic, which I hope to discuss here briefly. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage those who are interested in this question to turn directly to the Bible rather than the numerous popular books and essays written on the topic. I will consider this brief introduction to the topic a success if only it serves as a springboard, for you, directly into the Scriptures.
The wonderfully insightful A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” This quote beautifully encapsulates the importance of education for Christians. Precisely because we are Christians, thinking well takes upon a crucial role in our lives. Education is not, as the broader society would tell us, merely a tool for one’s work or a means by which to win an argument—it is one of the ways we relate to God Himself.
Unfortunately, much of the Evangelical Christian world has bought into the false idea that a pursuit of factual knowledge damages one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Put another way, Christians fear that their faith will become solely a matter of the head, rather than the heart. But, the head and the heart are not so easily separated. What we know and what we love are bound up together. The more we know God–His revealed attributes and His promises–the more we will love God.
Moreover, ideas have consequences. How we see the world impacts how we will live. For example, knowledge of the Trinity gives us a glimpse into God’s beautiful and timeless vision for our personal relationships. It is our goal as Christians to live well and to love well, according to Scripture. Both of these things require education. God chose to reveal himself in the historical person of Jesus Christ and in the Holy Bible, so it is important that we Christians take the necessary steps to ensure our beliefs (and our actions) line up with God’s chosen revelation.
Doing so is a sort of spiritual maturity, or at least that is how Paul describes such knowledge in his letter to the Ephesians. To my mind, there is no better introduction to the topic of education for Christians than Ephesians Chapter 4. There, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to strive for unity “in the knowledge of the Son of God” so that they can attain “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (ESV). That is, the Ephesians were failing to act like Christ because they didn’t have knowledge of Christ. Throughout this chapter, Paul speaks of knowledge as the precondition for spiritual maturity. He criticizes the Ephesians for being “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine,” which suggests that their particular spiritual immaturity was an inability to discern between what is true and what is false. Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians is that they be “renewed in the spirit of their minds.”
To conclude, then, we Christians educators need to know that education is a way by which our minds are transformed into the image of Christ–often an arduous, but worthwhile, project. Moreover, knowledge is a means by which we grow closer to God and the pursuit of truth is a means by which we worship God. I would hope that you take the time to read Ephesians 4 in its entirety, because the whole of this chapter highlights the spiritual importance of education and demonstrates the way in which education and spiritual maturity are inseparably connected.
PhD Student, Politics and Philosophy
Boston, MA, USA