Scriptural Principles of Higher Education
by Steve and Teri Ong
God is the creator and designer of all things. It would make sense to be in harmony with His design for maximum happiness and effectiveness in life. To evaluate any educational program, it is necessary to establish some guiding principles.
Biblical Principles of Education
1. Education is a process encouraged by God. God created our minds and designed that a child who grows to maturity should increase in knowledge, wisdom, and skills (Proverbs 1:1-5). God desires that childish speaking, thinking, and reasoning should be done away with when we mature (I Cor. 13:11).
2. Education is not an automatic process; it must be sought and obtained. Our brains are made to acquire new information until the day we die. God commands us to seek wisdom and understanding. If we seek for it, He will give it to us (Proverbs 2:3-6).
3. Education should give us a better knowledge of God. Paul counted all things, including his prestigious education, as loss compared with knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8-10). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of true knowledge (Prov. 1:7). A study of natural phenomena and scientific laws should give us a greater knowledge and appreciation for who God is (Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20). Salvation and a right relationship with God require knowledge of God and his Word (Romans 10:14).
4. Education should help us live in conformity with God's will. God desires that our minds not be pressed into the mold of the world, but be transformed according to His standards so that we can carry out His will in our bodies (Romans 12:1-2).
5. The world's educational system has purposes antithetical to God's purposes. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and desires to deceive mankind. False teachers rise up to hinder godly teaching and to deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting (Romans 16:17-18). There is information available in the world that God does not want believers to have (Romans 16:19). The wisdom of the world seems very lofty and exalts itself against God (II Cor. 10:5), but the foolishness of God is in reality wiser than men (I Cor. 1:25).
6. God holds us responsible for what we take into our minds. We are to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil (Romans 16:19). We are responsible for what we take in through our senses into our minds (Matthew 5:29, Luke 11:34-36).
7. A proper education will lead to the greatest satisfaction in life. Blessing, honor, long life, pleasantness, and peace are reserved for those who find true wisdom and understanding (Prov. 3:13-18).
8. God is not as concerned with knowledge as with discernment and obedience. Knowledge by itself leads to pride, which is resisted by God (I Cor. 8:1; I Peter 5:5). Effective education goes beyond facts in the mind (Matthew 7:24-28). God's wisdom is a precious gift dispensed to those who have been obedient to prior knowledge (Mark 4:24-25). Discernment comes through obedient use of knowledge (Hebrews 5:14).
9. The goal of education is to gain true knowledge and the ability to detect falsehood. God's truth is accessible to all, believers and unbelievers (Romans 1:19-20). But God's wisdom is discerned only by believers (I Cor. 2:14). All truth is God's truth. Everything must be measured by Scripture, not by the belief or unbelief of man (Romans 3:3-4). The truths of God are not subject to the opinions of man (I Cor. 3:18-20). God desires that we would be able to discern the things that are excellent (Phil. 1:9-10).
10. The environment surrounding the learning process is important to the success of the process. The student should not enter the path of the wicked or proceed in the way of evil men when seeking an education (Prov. 4:14). Kindness and truth should characterize the environment (Prov. 3:3). It should not be characterized by stumbling blocks (Rom. 14:13). It should encourage the student's faith rather than major on myths and speculations (I Tim. 1:4; Titus 3:9).
11. Learning is work. Diligence, faith, and virtuous character are prerequisites to a good education (II Peter 1:5). The student must have a strong desire for his education (Prov. 17:16).
12. Parents are ultimately responsible for the training of their children before God. Some training may be delegated to others (Gal. 4:1-2), but the father is held accountable for the training of his children (Eph. 6:4).
13. Education must focus on preparation for service to God and not on making money. We are not to be anxious about what we shall eat or drink. This would include being anxious about getting a certain type of education that would allow us to eat or drink in a certain fashion (Matt. 6:31). If we are intent on seeking to advance God's kingdom, he will supply what we need (Matt. 6:33). But we are not to be careless and lazy. We must be prepared to work in order to eat (II Thess. 3:10). The Apostle Paul served as our example (II Thess. 3:7). He learned a skilled trade as well as having a liberal arts education (Acts 22:3). The trade enabled him to make a living, while the liberal arts education enabled him to minister to a broad range of people with a broad range of needs (I Cor. 9:22).
14. Children should be educated in accord with their God-given nature. God knows our frame (Psalm 103:14). Children should be trained according to the natural bent God gave them (Prov. 22:6). He ordained all of our days before we were conceived (Psalm 139:16). He sets us apart for certain callings from before birth (Gal. 1:15). He has foreordained the good works he wants us to do (Eph. 2:10). God's education will prepare us for every good work (II Tim. 3:16-17).