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Educational Premises

April 24, 2007

Before educational objectives, teaching and learning, or educational institutions can be discussed, the foundational premises and assumptions related to education must be understood. The nature of truth (knowledge), the nature of man, and the nature of educating man with the truth are presuppositions that should be addressed.

Everyone is concerned with truth. When the Lord Jesus Christ stood before the Roman governor, Pilate spoke for all men when he asked, “What is truth?” The book of Proverbs tells us that God is the source of all knowledge. All knowledge begins with God, and Hebrews relates that through faith in God, man understands the world around him. The only valid theory of knowledge is one based on the Word of God. From man’s viewpoint, all knowledge is relative to the unknown. The unknown could change the meaning of the known. Therefore, man can know nothing except it be shown him from God, Who is omniscient. Romans teaches that man can know nothing truly unless he interprets what he sees from the viewpoint of a created being. Christians are commanded in 2 Corinthians to bring all knowledge into subjection to Jesus Christ. This understanding brings unity to all knowledge and makes all subjects worthy of study–they all must be brought into subjection to Christ. There is nothing that God does not think about, and Christians must be taught to think as God does about all those things. Mankind is not interested in learning or teaching falsehoods or lies, so the truth must be known. Because of this, true knowledge must also be relevant and meaningful. For this to happen, truth must be external, fixed, and absolute. There are some who claim that this cannot be, but knowledge itself cannot come from within. It cannot change, and it cannot depend upon anything else. This gives truth an exclusive quality. Because truth is exclusive, those who would like to think of themselves as being open-minded are sometimes adverse to it. But claims of truth automatically claim that something else is “not true.” If someone claims a principle to be true, he is also asserting that anyone who disagrees does not believe the truth. Truth, by its nature, is exclusive.

Every religious and philosophical system in the world has a body of “truth” that is exclusive in some way. The Hindus find “truth” in the Vedas. The Muslims find the “truth” in the Koran. Even those whose “truth” teaches absolute tolerance are intolerant of those who admit that truth is exclusive. The problem that all other religions have with Christianity is that its body of truth is actually in a living person, Jesus Christ. Jesus said himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” He claimed to be the truth, and then He excluded all others. Truth is exclusive. When we see Jesus Christ as the embodiment of truth, we recognize that truth has eternal, immutable, absolute and indivisible qualities. Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” and so is truth.  It is eternal and immutable. Christ is not dependent upon other persons. He is God, and He is one with God. In the same way, truth is not dependent upon man or man’s interpretation, impression or experience. Truth is true and indivisible. Colossians teaches that the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ, and therefore, gives Him and truth a comprehensive quality. All true knowledge is in Christ. Nothing can be truly known outside of Christ. Therefore, all truth is Christ’s.

In contrast with worldly philosophies, Christianity recognizes that man stands in stark contrast with truth. He is distinct from all other created beings, yet he is a fallen creature. Despite this, every man has a divine purpose he should fulfill. Because man is a created being, he is dependent upon his Creator for all things. Because man is created in the image of God, he is the crown of God’s creation. In Genesis, man was given dominion over the rest of creation even though he was a creation of God himself.

Because God is one and man is created in God’s image, he is also one, organically. Because we are a creation with finite knowledge, we cannot completely comprehend God or his creation. We can better understand man by dividing him into “beings.” Luke shows that man is intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual. Organically, the essence of these cannot truly be separated, but we can organize our thoughts about man by putting him into these divisions. As an intellectual being, man is rational, valuing and historical. Adam named the rest of creation exhibiting his rational abilities — he could communicate and categorize. We put a value on everything in our lives, and we think in terms of time — yesterday, today, tomorrow — making us historical beings. Man also has a physical body, a social aspect, which allows us to interact with other human beings, and a spirit, which gives us an eternal quality. This spiritual aspect is what sets mankind apart from the rest of creation. In creation, God breathed into mankind spiritual life.

As a creation of God made in His image, man must be taught how to grow into the image of God and how to take dominion over all the rest of creation. Man is God’s vicegerent on the earth. He has authority and responsibility to promote the welfare and advancement of God’s creation.

While man was created perfectly in God’s image with the freedom to do right, he rebelled against his Creator and chose to disobey God. The book of Romans teaches that because all mankind was in Adam when he sinned, everyone now has a sinful nature. It further states that in this fallen condition, man still has the freedom to do what is right, but his sinful nature is bent toward rebellion against God. Because man is no longer the perfect creation of God, he has limited intelligence. The book of Romans says that this is particularly true in those who do not acknowledge God as their Creator. When man does not recognize that he is a created being, his capacity for intelligence is severely limited. Yet, as a creation of God in His image, mankind is still quite capable of brilliance. All scientific and technological advancements made in history are a testimony to the abilities given to mankind in creation. No other “species” has made any discoveries that advanced the conditions of the species. Man is the creation made in God’s image and capable of intellectual brilliance.

Revelation teaches that man was created in order to bring glory to his Creator. The Bible teaches throughout its pages that man is to glorify God and that his purpose on earth is to do just that. In fact, when man knows God and does not glorify Him as God, God works against him and gives him over to foolish, reprobate thinking. When man recognizes God as his Creator and trusts in His Son for salvation and freedom from the bondage of his fallen nature, he is given another reason for existing. When Christ saves a man, he gives him the ministry or duty of reconciliation. Christian men have the responsibility to glorify God and to call the world to God. The book of 2 Corinthians teaches that we are His ambassadors.

Because education involves finite man and infinite truth, it is a process that is never complete and never neutral. No one human being, truly no collection of human beings, could ever comprehend the riches and depths of knowledge and truth that are in Christ Jesus. The more a man knows, the more he knows how much he does not know. William Feather said, “An education isn’t how much you’ve committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t know.” As man acquires more knowledge, he recognizes that there is even more to be learned. Education is never complete. Education also can never be neutral. Because it involves truth, and Christ is the truth, only those who teach Christ and His truth are truly educating. Anyone who attempts to teach otherwise, whether opposed to Christ or merely neutral about Christ, is teaching a lie. Christ said that all who do not support Him oppose Him. All truth is His, and those that do not acknowledge His lordship over all of life, lie about life.

Categories: Education, Voegtlin
  1. April 25, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Many good thoughts and very foundational.

    Mankind would say he wants truth, not lies, but can we say he wants truth. He seems to rebel against the truth.

    I believe that New Testament Christianity sets itself apart with this antithetical nature of truth. Scripture is clear, the Word is truth, so…

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