Semi-Classical Christian education in Zambia

By Dr. Ken Turnbull, Founding ACU Vice-Chancellor
Published August, 2018

African Christian University (ACU) was initiated from a vision of seeking knowledge derived from a foundation of God’s grand narrative of Scripture, and from that foundation embracing the breadth of all history and cultures to develop the expanse of the humanities and the sciences with a particular relevance to Africa - historically, presently and for the future. The following explains how that vision was brought to life in the education programmes of ACU.

Building the foundations from the one-year, pre-university, certificate granting Scholars Programme allows development from the centrality of the Bible’s Grand Narrative. As an evangelistic curriculum, this course is intended to emphasise God’s mission nourishing worship through His redemptive plan throughout history. Developing all of the other remedial, university-preparatory courses from the grammar, logic and rhetoric core of critical thinking, language arts, mathematics and computers drawn from the Bible’s grand narrative foundation gives the cohesive life to all of the courses from a vibrant, biblical worldview. This foundation from God’s perspective allows unity of knowledge from any time period, any culture and any category of life. This holistic education encompasses the purpose of a classical education - revealing truth, beauty and goodness as the reconciliation of all things to God in Christ emerges resulting in worship of the sovereign God. Importantly, deriving and applying all education within an African cultural context allows students to experience the relevance of all knowledge to their own lives and purpose.

The first two years of all of ACU’s Degree Programmes continue to lay a biblical foundation in a semi- Classical manner from an African cultural context emphasising the cultural mandate fulfilled in Christ’s redemption. The student’s capacity is, of course, dependent on regeneration in Christ towards flourishing in the ongoing sanctification of God’s Spirit. Studying the breadth of the humanities and sciences across history and cultures affords a gymnasium for the exercise of discernment from application of God’s Word to all aspects of life. This core curriculum is aligned to God’s mission so that the student can experience himself or herself as God’s image-bearer. Transformation by renewal of the mind is a work of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2) that brings a biblical-worldview perception to all of life.

From this heavenly mindset (Colossians 3:2) students can experience the creative capacities, critical thinking and diligent work ethic that will equip them to best accomplish God’s will in their lives and vocations. Linking the mind renewal of the classroom to practical work with the hands is the purpose of Grounding all students in the servant-mindedness of working for communal good through the God-given gifts and talents of each individual is the discipleship that brings education to the character-shaping goals that most appropriately define a true Christian education. This lays the foundation for a graduate who can uniquely bring cultural transformation through any and all of life’s endeavours in God’s providence.

The final two years of each of ACU’s Degree Programmes practically grounds students in the prerequisite knowledge and required skill-sets for success. Continuing to build from the classic to the contemporary knowledge with practical application and skill development equips students to best bring individual gifts and talents to bear in vocational practice. Experience in bringing worldview to ethical application and policybearing, communal unification fully prepares a graduate to be a civil leader and an example of applying God’s benevolent mission to productive cultural advancement. Culminating in a team-project that addresses a contemporary challenge of African relevance, students will experience bringing the morals and values of the Christian worldview to productive solutions in problem-solving real challenges uniquely faced in Africa. This final stage of undergraduate education brings a cohesive focus of the semi-classically educated Christian student to the real needs for innovative development in Africa. Bringing a divinely inspired concern to ground the graduate in a vocation targeting advancement in Africa, rather than migrating to potentially more materially lucrative cultures elsewhere, will hopefully assure that those most capable of bringing true cultural transformation to Africa will result by those who are from Africa.

This is the goal of a truly biblical, semi-classical, African higher education. May God enable the continued growth and fruition of this vision for ACU.