Posted by: Kenn Hermann | March 1, 2006

Getting a ‘Christian’ Education

“Being a Christian Student” #1

I have been involved in higher education, in both public and private universities, for over 30 years. During that time I have spoken, taught, written, and thought a good deal about the meaning of ‘Christian’ higher education. Over the coming months, I will pull my thoughts and occasional pieces together on this vital subject and post them here. My hope is that they may help some young people gain a deeper and broader understanding of what getting a ‘Christian’ education must mean for those who are committed to living their entire life under the Lordship of Christ. Ash Wednesday seems to be an appropriate time to begin.

Almost 20 years ago I wrote an article for the Reformed Journal on this general theme. It was given the rather infelicitous title of “Beyond the Hothouse . . . “ by the publishers. Needless to say, it was not my title. My major points, though, are still valid, in my humble judgment. I make three major claims that should be uncontroversial.

  • a ‘Christian’ education is not defined by the place at which a person is studying. All those claiming to be followers of Christ are obligated to get a ‘Christian’ education, whether they are studying at a ‘Christian’ college or a public university. The obligation of discipleship is not restricted to ‘Christian’ institutions.
  • a ‘Christian’ education is not defined by the subjects being studied. It is not just those studying religious education or theology that are under this obligation. Every student, whether studying anthropology or zoology — A-Z — is obligated to study that subject from a ‘Christian’ perspective.
  • a ‘Christian’ education is defined by a perspective on any field of study that is shaped by the meaning and implications of a ‘Christian’ understanding of natural and cultural Reality.

While simply stated, each claim carries profound implications for how followers of Christ understand being his disciple at the university. We will be tracing out a number of them in coming months. Perhaps you can already see where this is going.

Surprisingly — or maybe not — ‘Christian’ colleges have never endorsed this simple notion. Can you guess why?

Obviously, a great deal depends on the meaning of ‘Christian.’ I will devote considerable attention to that term in coming posts. In the meantime, read this article. Please ask any questions you have. You can subscribe to updates to this blog at Bloglines.

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