Here at Regent University School of Divinity we study renewal and attempt to unpack its “dynamics.” As I continue to study the history of Christianity, I have noticed that the internal renewal of the human person and societal renewal have occurred during periods of educational renewal. What I mean by educational renewal is the development of new models and approaches to education that more effectively shape human beings and thus society as a whole.
At its best, it seems to me that the educational enterprise has a twofold purpose. First, it is a humanism because education attempts to make humans better human beings. In Christian terms, education is about discipleship through renewing the mind (Rom. 12:1-2) in which both educators and students seek to cooperate with the Spirit in the process of transformation. Second, education is a humanism because “transformed” students enter the world in order to bring change to societies in ways that promote the common good of humanity as a whole. Sometimes, we think of education primarily as a means to an end: a good paying job. And yet, for Christians, the job really was not the ultimate aim; instead, it was a means to the larger goal of pursuing one’s calling in life, a calling to change the world for Christ.
In this and the next blog entry, I want to survey the various points in the history of western Christianity in which renewal of educational models brought about positive renewal for humans and society. I think this is important to consider at this time in history because we are currently undergoing a change in educational models from on-campus delivery systems to online delivery systems. There is a question as to whether online education represents a genuine renewal that brings about positive change. The best way to ask this question is to consider how educational renewal happens.