Posts Tagged ‘Education’
It is a moving sight to behold. Thousands of people simultaneously praying in unison, spitting out words as bullets in a rapid-fire mode, heads shaking violently, muscles and nerves taut in deployment, and all are enveloped in air thick with dust and humidity. The ground quakes as they enthusiastically stamp their feet on the floor. Young men and women are rapidly punching the air with clenched fists and angrily wagging their fingers at the devil. And flesh, aided by rivulets of hot sweat, holds on tightly to fabric. Bodies, broken bodies, hungry bodies, rich bodies, old bodies, young bodies, sway toward one another. Worship is a running splash of bodies and words—flung and scattered among four corners like broken mask in the square. This na prayer; this is the aesthetics of talking to God in African Pentecostal gathering. Prayer is a dynamo of excess energy leaping like flames in a dry-season burning bush and heading straight from earth to the throne room of God. But are our seminaries preparing students for this ministry? Read the rest of this entry »
There remains a fundamental tension in the American approach to education between the “utilitarian” model and the “liberal arts” model. It has been the case from the push toward higher education in the mid-nineteenth century with the importation of German models of learning. This tension is grounded in two competing impulses of American life: a pragmatic spirit and a democratic populism.
The pragmatic spirit in America drove the industrial revolution during the Gilded Age and Progressive Eras (1865-1920). It led to the creation of institutes whose primary task was to advance technological aptitude and discovery. These “institutes of technology” the most famous of which is MIT, began in the late nineteen century and have dotted the landscape ever since.
Democratic populism, on the other hand, was less about technological advance and more about forming the soul of individuals and thus the soul of a nation. Americans took to heart Matthew Arnold’s admonition that a democracy must find a unifying principle beyond the monarch. This unifying principle would be a culture–a national identity grounded in common values–that shaped the individuals within it. While pluralism always questions what is common, democratic populism, at its best, pulled the nation back to the original ideals of “we hold these truths.” With its focus on exploring the ultimate ends of human existence, the liberal arts model aimed at the moral formation of students.
We need to acknowledge the tensions between these models and also the way in which each model conceives the role of the faculty member.
Having gone through the book again, my primary objection would be that it does too little in its drawing out the implications of a commitment to Christ in relation to learning.
For Noll, what really matters is an affirmation of the creeds leading up to Chalcedon and a particular understanding of the atonement he takes from John Stott. These twin affirmations are placed within a solidly Reformed framework to tease out their implications.
For example, in dealing with history Noll is less concerned with drawing out any of the implications of Christology for one’s approach to history than with affirming creedal Christianity as a means of steering between historical skepticism and a naive belief that the past can be objectively and fully reconstructed.
The basis of this affirmation is the creedal insistence that Christianity is historical and the dual natures of the incarnation, which affirms universality and particularity. Noll then deals with the question of providence on the basis of a distinction between general revelation and special revelation that supports his Kuyperian appeal to the presuppositions of the historian.
One wonders how different this would look if the starting point were Irenaeus of Lyons’ understanding of Christ’s work, which sees the Incarnation as the re-living of human history in order to heal humanity and bring them to perfection (deification). The narrative structure of the creeds points toward the narrative of salvation that Irenaeus describes.
On Irenaeus of Lyons’ view, the eternal Son becomes flesh and through a process of growth and development overcomes temptations and subdues the demonic in order to achieve perfection. This was all made possible by the Spirit of the Son at work within the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
What are some possible implications of this different starting point? Read the rest of this entry »
Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrestled with the challenge of these forms of Christianity. He identified a central problem for mystics of all stripes (including charismatics) and then pointed toward education as part of the solution. Christians are called to learn because they are called to explain the message they have received.