What is a Christian Education?

By Kendra Hawley, Former ACU Librarian
Published November, 2015

On Saturday the 7th of November 2015 , ACU had the privilege of presenting to a group from the Reformed Baptist Churches in Lusaka. The theme running through the day was the importance of a Christian worldview in education. Below is a brief overview of the various sessions.

Ernest Mwansa presented a challenge from Hebrews 5:12-14 on the topic of discernment. He explained that a proper foundation must be laid before learning more difficult things. A proper foundation will lead from the ABCs to calculus and from basic Biblical principles to difficult doctrines. In contrast to a secular education, a Christian education will give spiritual knowledge to aid in understanding the world we live in and the One who created and sustains it. A Christian education will refine our understanding of God’s Word and of the world He created. It equips students to discern truth from error.

Dr. Amos Banda expounded on Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 6-9. Before the people of Israel could enter the Promised Land, they needed an education in proper conduct. They were entering a land where the people did not know the Lord. Therefore, they needed to know the fear of the Lord. How were they to learn this? Parents were directed to take the responsibility of diligently training their children at every opportunity. They were instructed to train their children in every area of life so the children would learn how to worship the Lord, love Him and glorify Him at home, at church and in the workplace.

Ray Warwick began his session on the topic of the Christian philosophy of education with the question, “Does philosophy matter?” The answer was a resounding, “Yes!” Why? Our philosophy of education lays the foundation for our understanding in all areas. In secular education, knowledge is held as most important whether it is true or false, whether it is presented systematically or haphazardly. Christian education includes: 1) Knowledge, 2) Interpretation and 3) Application. You cannot take one away without losing the full scope of Christian education. Christian education teaches truth. Mr. Warwick stated, “There is truth. His name is Jesus.” He went on to explain that since there is truth, this implies that education done wrongly is full of error and falseness. Therefore, ACU (and all true Christian education) will teach from a Biblical worldview. ACU will teach that all truth comes from the Lord and is revealed to us in His Word. It guides our understanding of both the physical and the spiritual realms. There is a great chasm between Christian and secular education. We need to recognise this and choose the path that leads to the desired end. And that end should be TRUTH. Dr. Ken Turnbull presented ACU’s Pedagogy (methods of teaching). He explained that truth is derived from God’s Word. That our understanding of who God is and who we are in this world forms our worldview. At ACU, learning may begin in the classroom, but it does not end there. Learning needs to extend beyond the classroom to challenge the students and present practical ways to live out what they are learning. A Christian education recognises that all knowledge comes from God, is glorifying to Him, transforms character and is redemptive. Therefore, a Christian education will be cohesive between various disciplines, it will enlighten and humble, and it will challenge students to love those around them rather than focusing on self-glorification. Dr. Turnbull cited a study done across Sub- Saharan Africa in which employers were asked what characteristics were most important in hiring new employees. The employers answered that most universities do not prepare students in the qualities needed because the most important qualities are those of character (such as teamwork, perseverance and honesty) not acquired skills. Education needs a new paradigm built on God’s Word that brings about whole life education. If Christ is the centre, education will touch the Mind (intellect), the Heart(emotions), the Hands (physical) and the Soul (spiritual).

Wilson Tembo wrapped up the day by sharing the vision and values of ACU. He explained that ACU seeks to present education in a way that: 1) presents a Biblical worldview, 2) focuses on the Lordship of Jesus Christ, 3) is based on the authority of Scripture and 4) is distinctly African. He then went on to challenge the parents in the audience, quoting Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:14-15, to lay up for their children. He explained that parents do this by taking the responsibility to care for their children and train them to be useful members of society in the fear of the Lord. When children grow up, they will then see that it is their responsibility to care for what God has given to them. They will do this by working hard and loving others.

This article barely scratches the surface of what was shared at this event. If you would like to learn more about the importance of Christian worldview education, please contact us or visit the ACU website, www.acu-zambia.com