Education and Gods Mission

By Dr. Voddie Baucham, Dean of Seminary
Published February, 2017

When people find out I’m in Africa working at a Christian University, their response is almost always the same. They assume that ACU is a “Bible College” of some sort. They are always shocked and amazed when I tell them that the first four courses of study we offer are Agriculture, Education, Business, and Theology. The next question is, “So you want the pastors to be bi-vocational?”

It is amazing how far and fast we have fallen away from the Puritan model and ideal of education. Ironically, even some Classical model home educators have a hard time wrapping their head around the application of Classical, Christian, Liberal Arts education 1) in Africa, 2) at the university level, and 3) in every discipline! So I’ve had to come up with a simple way to explain the concept.

Two Ruling Principles -- The first step to helping people understand our approach is to establish what I like to call the two ruling principles. One: God created all things for his glory. Two: There is no area of education (or life) that is exempt from this reality.

God Created All Things for His Glory -- The Catechism for Boys and Girls is a great discipleship tool for children. I find its opening questions helpful in establishing the first principle: Q. Who made you? A. God made me. Q. What else did God make? A. God made all things Q. Why did God make you and all things? A. For his own glory! This, of course, is a progression that helps communicate the same truth we find in the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: Q. What is the chief end of man? A. To glorify God and enjoy him forever! In both instances, we have a clear presentation of the first ruling principle: God created all things for his glory! Because this is true, the second principle is easy to anticipate. If God made us and all things in order to glorify himself, there can be no area of education (or anything else) that is considered ‘off limits’ in terms of the truth, beauty, and goodness we find in God’s word.

There is no Area of Education That is Exempt from This Reality -- The application of this principle is and always has been the essence of Classical, Christian, Liberal Arts education. God is about the business of redeeming all things. He does not save his people solely to take them to heaven when they die. He intends for them to live God-glorifying lives along the way. We see this from Solomon’s admonition, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccl 9:10), to Paul’s echo of the same, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

Because this is true, Christians should not be confounded by the idea of a Classical, Christian, Liberal Arts university; they should be confounded by the idea of anything else! How dare we deign to teach any subject from a “secular” perspective? How dare we teach mathematics or biology, or literature as though God has no say in the matter? And how dare we establish universities, whether in Africa or anywhere else, that promote the idea that the only place we need to press God’s sovereign rule is in Bible and theology!

Interestingly enough, this approach also results in a level and type of training for future pastors that prepares them to read, interpret, and teach the Bible in a manner befitting the magnitude of their calling.