Archive for the ‘Christian Education’ Category

Note: This is a guest post somehow I miss scheduling for when I am overseas.  This is by our dear brother Josh Niemi.  Sorry Josh!  He is an author of the book Expository Parenting and the website can be found here.  The book’s Facebook page can be found here and he also tweets here.

When Education Lacks a Telos (Ecclesiastes 1:12-18)

What’s the point of education?

For many, the answer is purely materialistic: learn so you can have a good career; get a good career so you can make a lot of money; make a lot of money so you can buy and do a lot of “stuff.” Obviously, this perspective is fraught with danger. With self-indulgent consumerism as the ultimate pursuit, ethics are often just an obstacle to be overcome.


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Note: This is an urgent guest post by one of our readers we are sharing this immediately given that this is threatening tolerance of Christian beliefs of the Bible.

By B Dub

Freedom of religion is a central feature of our liberties as Americans.  It is a right affirmed in the First Amendment.  Once a society starts stripping its citizens of their essential freedoms, including religious liberty, it cannot long survive as a free society.  There is a bill in the California assembly numbered SB1146.  It could potentially be very bad for California Christian Colleges and Universities.

As of the Time of this writing it has passed the California Senate and is making its way through the California Assembly and is being review in committees.  As it is written now, it could cause real problems for religious institutions in California.  Once it makes it to Jerry Brown’s desk, he is likely to sign it.

The advocates of the bill claim it as a non-discrimination policy, but it disallows religious institutions to uphold their beliefs.   In this way it is in fact discriminatory. It says that religious requirements must be approved by the state. It could be a problem for a college enforcing their moral beliefs stemming from the religion.  For example they wouldn’t be able to talk against homosexual marriage or abortion.   This section in particular is biggest issue:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit discrimination on the basis of disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code, including the perception that the person has any of those characteristics or that the person is associated with a person who has, or is perceived to have, any of those characteristics.

As you can see, by the wording it claims to not be discriminatory.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.   By not allowing religious institutions’ freedom of conscious, it discriminates against their ability to enforce principles in accordance with their beliefs.

The whole text and history of the bill can be found here for reference and context.

Here is what several religious institutions in California are saying and how it affects them:

Concordia University Irvine: http://www.cui.edu/aboutcui/sb1146

Biola: http://now.biola.edu/news/article/2016/jun/08/preserve-faith-based-higher-education/

Western Baptist University: http://www.opposesb1146.com/

As well as another blogger talking about it.


What can be done?

Those of you in California contact your representatives.  Even if you are not you can still contact them.  Urge them to vote no.

If you don’t know who your representative is, you can find out here.

Tell your friends about this.  Let the word get out about this and why this bill is bad news.

Also, prayer is always encouraged.

Here is a site with more suggestions on what to do.


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Purchase:  Amazon

Part of being more consistent with a Christian worldview is the realization that there is no neutrality when it comes to secularism and a Biblically informed education.  Hence, the topic of homeschooling is important, for those who want to pursue this option in raising up their children.  A practical book is rare in this regards, but one that readers might consider is “Lessons Learned from Years of Homeschooling”by Andrea Schwartz.

This book is authored by a home school mom, and is largely a work that shares veteran experiences of years of homeschooling. As a parent who is looking towards the possibility of homeschooling my children, I thought I look into this book more for the practical wisdom rather than a fully orbed Christian worldview of education. The chapters were short, so it was a nightly reading for my wife and I. There were times when we wondered if the book was bragging about how accomplished her kids were, but we get the point that Christians can homeschool their kids in ways that shows success and achievements. I wished there were more practical wisdom the author could have “handed” down to the readers. However, given that there are probably not a lot of books like these, I would recommend it and something that readers can still learn from and reflect about the challenges of homeschooling

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Purchase: Amazon

The topic of this book is the relationship of thinking and the Christian life. As the beginning of the book admits, there have been other Christian works on the topic of the relationship of the intellect and the faith, with each having it’s different emphasis (such as the cultural aspect, role of faith and science, etc). This work emphasized more of thinking in terms of reading, and is more driven by biblical exposition and not a defense higher institution learning per se. I enjoyed the fact that the author is a preacher of the Bible first, who also began his career orignally in academic ministry. The author John Piper devotes two semi-biographical chapters to explain his own intellectual Christian life, including a discussion about the influence of Jonathan Edward’s Trinitarian approach to the relationship of the intellect and action. This gives the readers an honest picture of where Piper is coming from. The book is not a textbook on logic but comes across as a book giving a summarized Christian theology of the relationship of the mind to the faith and I would even say with enough devotional flavor. Piper covers the relationship of the mind to coming Christ and also in sanctification, and presents a balanced approach of both/and when it comes to the life of the mind and living faith. Piper underscores the need for the faculty of the mind to be used to treasure Christ, and that just thinking about the things of God is not loving God with all our minds if we don’t end us savoring him. To use an analogy in the book, the intellect provides the wood to stir our passion in loving Jesus. This works also refutes relativism and also dealt with the issue of anti-intellectualism and autonomous intellectualism, with the call to submit all reasoning in the service towards Christ and helping others and ourselves love Jesus more. Good work–readers might find it a treat to read Mark Noll’s preface, and the fact that Piper and Noll were both roomates at one time during the college days in Wheaton. Of course, Noll’s view on things are not views I would totally agree with (especially in terms of his stance on evolution).

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Several weeks ago, I reviewed this book by Henry Van Til here.  Apparently, you can read this entire work and download it for free on PDF!  Click here.

The work will have the 1972 cover on it–but the content is the same.

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For those who ever struggle with learning the Biblical languages, Dan Wallace’s testimony over at Justin Taylor’s blog is amazing.  I’ll repost Wallace’s portion here:

In my first year of Greek at Biola University, I nearly failed the subject. The professor, Dr. Harry Sturz, had compassion on me and gave me a passing grade. I took a different professor in second-year Greek. He gave us a battery of exams at the beginning of the semester. One exam each week. I failed the first exam. I failed the second exam. I failed the third exam. I failed the fourth exam, but it was a high F! And I got a D on the fifth exam. “Hey,” I thought, “I’m really getting this Greek thing down!”

The professor called me into his office and told me that I should check out of Greek. That was the wake-up call I needed. I went down to my dorm room, got on my knees, and confessed to the Lord that I had dragged his name through the mud. I reasoned that since I am in Christ and he is in me, he was failing Greek, too. And even though I was at a Christian school, I was soiling his reputation. I repented of my sin—the sin of mediocrity because I was surrounded by Christians, the sin of thinking that I did not need to do my best since I was a Christian.

I went back to the professor and asked for one more chance. He granted that to me. I ended up getting an A in the class both semesters. It still took me two more years of Greek at Biola before I even felt moderately comfortable with the language, but I had learned my lesson. Now, to be sure, my experience is not everyone’s. But, for me, learning Greek became a matter of spiritual discipline. And even though I was very sick in my fourth semester of Greek-so that I missed five and a half weeks of school-I still did well in the course.

I don’t consider myself good at languages, but I do consider myself a steward of the life that God has given to me. And I have never recovered from the impact that the Greek New Testament has made on my walk with Christ.

What makes this amazing is that Dan Wallace is the guy that have written much materials on Greek!  Furthermore, I think there is something I can relate to in this story.  I struggled much in undergraduate studying Classical Greek–I felt that I poured hours into it, and my grades didn’t reflect the time I spent on studying and doing the assignment.  There were many times I was discouraged.  I was always convicted how non-believers were better in their Greek than I was in class.  By the time I got to seminary, I was in fear and trembling.  I prayed much to the LORD that He would help me be a good steward when it comes to my Greek–so that I can rightfully divide the WORD and defend it with knowledge of the Greek New Testatment text itself.  And I think God has been gracious to me!

I think this post is a reminder of two things:

1.) We must not forget that studying is a spiritual exercise–we should pray for wisdom from God and help!  We should see our study as a spiritual stewardship–one day we will be called into account with what we did with our studies.  This makes it a big responsibility–and yet a great joy to see that language is part of God’s created order.  It should be a time of glorious worship when we are studying hard.

2.) We must not forget that those who might seem to be failing still have the hope in Christ that if they have a right biblical perspective on studying, and a “THEOLOGY of education” that is informed by the Scripture driving their study lives, God is still in the redemptive business of turning one who might be dumb, lazy and struggling to become a striving student.  I believe it, because I believe God’s sanctification include the sanctification of the mind and the will when it comes to the area of studying.

The proverbial excuse, “It’s all Greek to me!” shouldn’t be for Christian seminarians, pastors and the Christian student.  If I could bend my hermeneutics just a bit to make a point– Christians are to be “Greek” to  Greek and Hebrew to  Hebrew!

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This work was an unofficial festschrift for Cornelius Van Til, edited by Gary North.  The story behind this second Festchrift for Van Til is an interesting story in it’s own right.  The work attempts to put forth the foundation for a Christian approach towards various academic disciplines that is informed from a Christian worldview.  I thought Rushdoony’s chapter on Psychology was worth while.  John Frame contribution to the chapter in theology was also good, as he explores the issue of theology as a system, while also it being more than a system, paradoxes in theology, the inter-relationship of doctrines, etc.  Van Til’s disciple Greg Bahnsen also contributed to this volume, with a wonderful chapter on apologetics and another on philosophy.  His chapter on philosophy discusses the issue and refutes pragmaticism, and Wiggenstein’s language game theory of language.  Vern Poythress’ contribution with the chapter on math is also another excellent chapter in the book, and probably is the beginning work done concerning a distinctively Van Tillian flavor Christian worldview approach towards mathematics.  I highly recommend this work, and I think it is a tragedy that this work is out of print.  Perhaps an update or a new book that is in the same spirit would be excellent in the near future!

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