Taking a Fresh Look at Faith-Based Education
Dr. Edward Grigg
This is the time of year when parents are facing the task of choosing schools for their children. In deciding about education, parents, should consider faith-based institutions
Faith has long been the driving force that called out to noble leaders to pass along knowledge to the next generation. While the motivation for a few people was teaching faith, schools did not limit teaching to a sacred text, but included all aspects of the universe. Believing that God designed and created all that exists, faith-based institutions strive to teach all knowledge, by forging a deeper understanding of God’s sovereignty and omnipotence within the learner.
Faith-based education works on the premise that the more knowledge and wisdom a person gains, the more solid his or her faith becomes. These institutions are not afraid of the sciences, but rather count on the sciences to help complete the puzzle of knowledge. Regardless of the field of study, correctly learned knowledge points to intelligent design and helps to complete the puzzle that man has worked on for hundreds of years. The faith community does not fear knowledge but embraces it.
In seeking [a school], parents should seek one that develops true wisdom in the student, not just knowledge. Data exists and is raw, it has no significance beyond its existence and is little more than symbols. Information is data that has been given some relevant meaning and provides some answers to the “who,” “what,” “when” or “where” questions. Knowledge is the correct collection of information and answers the “how” question. Students take raw data and information and gain knowledge by the proper collection of information. .
True faith-based education provides the needed tools to enable the student to use cognitive and analytical skills. This is the difference between memorizing and learning. Learning takes place when understanding is evident. Understanding gives the student appreciation for the knowledge and answers the “why” questions. Most people are content at this point, they are joyful that they have gained data, information, knowledge and understanding.
Russell Ackoff adequately pointed out in his “Theory of Wisdom” that the stored information in the human mind — data, information, knowledge, and understanding — all point to the past. This is where most education ends, but not in the faith-based institution. True faith-based education tries to move the student to wisdom. Wisdom is an analytical, extrapolative, and discerning progression that calls on all previous levels of training, especially moral principles, and enables one to perceive and demonstrate understanding in areas where no previous understanding exists. It is the process by which a person discerns good from bad and right from wrong, a characteristic needed for success in business and patriotism.
Along with embracing knowledge, Faith based Institutions develop codes of conduct to stress integrity of character and on character development as well as academic achievement. These schools are concerned with more than mere academics, and seek to provide the student all the tools needed for a well-rounded disciplined life. It is the difference between gaining knowledge and gaining wisdom.
There is a wide misconception that secular institutions provide a better education for today’s youth. Those holding such a theory argue that education should be about discovering information, facts and data. These modernists think that education is faith versus fact. Therefore, most secular schools ignore teaching faith.
Faith-based [schools] believe the two are natural companions and that all knowledge comes from God. Without faith, there is no moral compass to guide humanity. Life descends into bottomless sinkholes of self-absorption and animalistic mayhem. Faith-based schools strongly believe that a true education is the ability to think, reason, and create from a moral perspective. Faith-based education enables the realization that each person is created in the image of God and given the ability to think, reason, and create from a moral perspective. It drives students to respect themselves and others, instilling a desire for doing right and for helping other people. One does not have to look hard to see the need for a greater moral-compass in today’s society. It is visible on Wall Street and on Main Street. It encompasses the offices and the boardrooms and is in political arenas and sports arenas. Without a moral compass, civilization can justify dark and wicked digressions. In fact, it is the lack of a greater moral compass that cries out across this country and around the world. This is why every parent should consider sending their child to faith-based schools.
Faith-based institutions do not restrict enrollment to those holding a set dogma, and they do not want to mold every student into identical spiritual men and women. Faith better qualifies the student to face the challenges of life. The student gains the assurance that God is guiding and enabling him to succeed in life, and enabling him to overcome obstacles that arise in life’s paths. Students from faith-based schools better understand the need to encompass faith and a biblical world view into their daily lives, whether about family values or life’s vocation.
Education is much more than simply rushing blindly into a sea of theories decorated with scattered ships of facts blown about by winds of fiction. Education must not ignore faith and civilization’s search for that higher ideal which makes humanity more than animalistic. Faith-based education addresses the whole person, not just academics.
Take a fresh look at faith-based education. It has come a long way and represents the gold standard of excellence.
Dr. Eddie G. Grigg is President of New Life Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. For information visit www.nlts.edu.
Printed with permission