Most Christian educators agree that the Bible should be central to Christian education. However, Christian educators often struggle to show students how the Bible is relevant to the subjects they teach. As a result, many decide to push the Bible to the margin of the educational experience.
At BJU Press, we define biblical integration as Christian worldview shaping. The Christian worldview is best expressed in the biblical story of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Taking these three events as the lenses through which to look at education, we see that faith and learning are bound together and that the Christian faith must govern the educational experience.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we discover that humans are made in God’s image. One of the chief components of God’s image in man is man’s ability to reason. So the ideal educational methodology will encourage each child to analyze, evaluate, and create—to declare God’s glory by being like Him, not only in behavior but also in the life of the mind.
As God’s image-bearers, we are to maximize the usefulness of the world for the glory of God and for the benefit of our fellow humans. Therefore, Genesis 1:28 becomes the key verse justifying all of the academics. You cannot maximize the usefulness of God’s world without knowing about math, science, and grammar. This verse also indicates that God-glorifying dominion is not only useful, but also beautiful. It requires creativity and involves poetry and the arts.
The Bible teaches that in the Fall, human cognition and affection became broken. Verses such as Jeremiah 17:9 and I Corinthians 2:14 teach that the fallen human mind cannot understand the world the way it was meant to be understood. Proverbs 1:7 teaches that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Here we learn that proper affection (“fear”) for God is the key to proper cognition (“knowledge”) regarding His world.
Christ is King of the believer’s entire person—his mind no less than his body and his emotions. Repeatedly, the New Testament asserts that salvation involves the mind. Paul tells the Romans to be delivered from worldliness through the “renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).
As Christians, we pursue education so that we may be more skilled in loving our neighbors as ourselves. We are to be evangelizing and teaching future participants in national life: governors, artists, educators, researchers, academicians, and tradesmen. Our educational practice should be shaped by Christ’s exhortation in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Shaping a Christian Worldview
Good biblical integration has not happened until the student learns how the Bible is relevant to the subject at hand. This involves three levels of effort.
In Level 1 biblical integration, the Bible is referenced while the subject is being taught, using biblical analogies or examples. In Level 2, the teacher shows the student how the Bible should guide him as he applies the academic discipline to real-life situations. The final level focuses on rebuilding the academics for the glory of God. Remembering the fallenness of the human mind, the teacher should call into question the secular assumptions of each subject and then encourage the student to rebuild the discipline from biblical presuppositions. The work of Christian education is the work of redeeming what has fallen. We study all aspects of human culture because we see in that study the potential for redemption. As we view the academics through the lens of Scripture, we learn how we may be used to redeem those disciplines back to God.
This article is an extract of "Biblical Integration: Pitfalls and Promise" by Bryan Smith.