What is Biblically-shaped education?

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Education is in fact nothing other than the whole of life of a community viewed from the particular standpoint of learning to live that life.

One of Anglican EdComm's core beliefs is that our work should draw on the best that there is to offer from the fields of education, philosophy, humanities and the social sciences, grounded in our understanding of the Bible and what it teaches us about the cornerstones of M.V.C Jeffrey’s simple definition of education, ‘Education is in fact nothing other than the whole of life of a community viewed from the particular standpoint of learning to live that life.’ 1

Our work is framed by the basic question, what does the Bible teach us about life, community, learning and of course education? We believe that the Bible, as God’s inspired Word to us, offers guidance and wisdom for all of life. It offers us a clear understanding of who God is, what it is to be human, what our relationship is to God and each other and what he intends for us. It teaches us history is not random, our lives are not lived by chance; God has a plan for us collectively and individually. The Bible also offers us a view of what a family is, the role that parents play and the things that matter most in training and instructing our children.

The Bible also shows that part of our humanness is the desire to learn and to know. This is a response to a God who has an intimate knowledge of the whole of creation because he made it for his purposes. Learning is part of what he expects and wants of us. He commands us first to seek to know him and his purposes for us, and then to learn from and with others in a world he has given us to subdue, use and enjoy.

How we use the Bible in answering such questions is important, as is the way we use it in relation to other non-biblical knowledge and teaching. We do not seek proof texts to support pre-existing notions of what education should be; rather we seek to exegete that Bible in order to see what it teaches. We interpret the Scriptures informed by biblical theology, which teaches us that the Bible in all of its parts presents a broad unifying metanarrative that speaks of God’s redemptive work in his creation through Christ. As well, through identification of clear doctrinal theology, we seek to evaluate, respond to and build on the best of what we know about education and teaching derived from secular research and scholarship.

We believe that our reading of the Bible will give us the guidance we need as we seek to understand the place that education plays in God’s plan for his people. Foundational to this will be what it teaches about our very nature as his creatures: image bearers of God, relational, and seeking wisdom with the ‘fear of the Lord’. We are people who seek to know, first about our nature and relationship to God and second about the purposes God has set for us. A people who can use knowledge derived ultimately from God to bring glory and honour to the one who made us.

Throughout the Bible we see evidence of God leading and his people following in many different ways. Just as God acted sovereignly in leading his people from Egypt through the wilderness and into the Promised Land, so too he leads and guides us today as mothers and fathers, as neighbours, as sons and daughters, as workers, as teachers and above all else as disciples of Christ. God can, of course, use all things to guide his people, including educational writings. As Christians we believe that pre-eminent guidance is seen in his Son; indeed, we believe that he has spoken to us by his Son through his Spirit in the Scriptures.

1. Jeffreys, M.V.C., Glaucon: An Inquiry into the aims of Education (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd, 1950), p.3.