Christian teachers should deliberately cultivate a learning environment that will foster understanding in their content area, but that will also display and promote godly principles in a way which could advance God’s kingdom and bring Him glory and honor. Teachers who intentionally execute their vocational duties with their eyes fixed on Jesus, striving for excellence “as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23b, English Standard Version), will likely find themselves meeting the needs of their students in a myriad of ways and bringing the Lord glory in a unified method. A believer’s Christian worldview and biblical understanding should direct and impact their methodology and practice as teachers of their discipline, models of Christian virtue and the necessity for Jesus, cultivators of hearts longing to glorify their Maker, and the application of biblical Truth to every subject and all subject matter.
Christian Core Beliefs
As evident from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, the Maker of the universe is a logical, orderly God who allows Himself to be known through His creation, His Word, His Son, His Spirit, and His church. Through God’s General and Special Revelation, mankind may acknowledge Him, and is invited to know and glorify Him. God’s character, plan, and love for humanity may be seen in His grand narrative, as displayed through Creation, the Fall, mankind’s Redemption through God’s begotten son, Jesus, and the promise of a future Restoration. Within this storyline, believers are to be: glorifiers of God, pointing to Him in all we do and say (1 Cor. 10:31); His disciples, constantly learning how to conform ourselves to His likeness (Rom. 12:2); His hands and feet in the physical world (1 Cor. 12:27), doing the work to which He has called us for the advancement of His kingdom (Matt. 5:13-16); and aiding to reconcile the world to Him (2 Cor. 5:17-20) as we wait for the return of the King when He will, at last, vanquish all sin and death and establish His forever-kingdom in the New Heavens and New Earth (Rev. 21:1-4).
All that is made was created by God, “through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16), and was, initially, declared to be “good” (Gen. 1). By creating man in His image (Gen. 1:27), God endowed every human life with worth, which, even after the Fall, dictates their value as sought-after sons and daughters (1 Tim. 2:3-6). The Lord created the earth because it brought Him glory to do so (Is. 6:3), and set it under the dominion of mankind (Gen. 1:28) that they may steward it properly. Being made in God’s image, humankind has a unique ability to know what is good, what is true, and what is righteous. The Lord has given us His Word (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16-17), His Spirit (Jn. 16:7-10), and one another (Lk. 17:3; Col. 3:16; Jas. 5:16) to assist us in discerning between right and wrong, good and bad, holy and evil, and true and false.
Teaching and Learning
Goal of Christian Education
Atop a foundation of understanding that God made all things for His glory, including man in His image, and that our purpose is to seek Him and advance His kingdom, Christian education serves a distinct and worthy goal: to glorify God and point all of creation towards His redeeming power. Without the redemptive power of Christ, all knowledge is but a “striving after wind” (Ecc. 1:14b). Therefore, in all things we must seek to acknowledge, submit, glorify, and emulate Christ, for “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (Col. 1:18). The ultimate goal of Christian education must be to lead students to a personal relationship with Jesus, to cultivate the Spirit of Truth once He lives within them, and to train them to discern and abide by the will of God; for without Christ, they are “dead in the trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), and no amount of worldly knowledge can bring them to eternal life.
Nature and Role of the Teacher
While parents are primarily responsible for their child’s education (Duet. 6:6-7), Christian teachers should seek to partner with them in the training and educating of students in the hope of lifelong benefits (Prov. 22:6). Christian teachers should be prepared and invested in the purpose, delivery, and outcome of their instruction and the individual students with whom they interact. They should understand that their own redemption and learning are ongoing processes, making sure to continually stay active in this regard by immersing themselves in God’s Word and His church and acknowledging their constant need for Jesus, as well as striving after further knowledge within their own fields of study. In this way, teachers may exemplify the lifelong love of learning which they hope to engender in their students.
Teachers who strive for gospel living would do well to heed the advice in Titus 2:7-8a regarding teachers in the church: “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech.” While explicit biblical virtues should be taught in the classroom, including “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23), teachers need to actively model what they are teaching in this realm, otherwise students are likely to be confused and follow what they see rather than what they hear. Christian teachers should explicitly teach and model godly virtues and grant students ample opportunity to put their moral learning into practice.
Effective Christian teachers know that their worth and purpose is rooted in the one, true God, and that each of their students is endowed with that same worth and purpose, whether the student knows it or not. They should work to love and support their students in ways that point to the redemptive powers of the Cross, encouraging both behavioral and spiritual submission and renewal. Christian teachers should strive to remember from Whom all good things come (Jas. 1:17) and to Whom all the glory is to be given (Eph. 3:20), resting in His strength when theirs is failing (2 Cor. 12:9), and praising Him for His bountiful provisions (Ps. 107:1).
Nature and Role of the Learner and Learning Process
The Lord has intentionally created diversity within His creation, especially when it comes to the individual person, declaring each to be “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Christian educators have an important task in ensuring that all their students are cherished, respected, motivated, and challenged. Christian teachers should help students identify and use their distinct God-given talents, gifts, and callings for His glory and to the advancement of His kingdom (1 Cor. 12:4-7; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Pet. 4:10). Scripture advocates that when working within a framework of diversity, teachers should aim for “all things to be done for building up” (1 Cor. 14:26b). Ultimately, teachers should know and harness the great power they possess within the classroom to model and foster a learning environment which values and benefits each of their individual students in a variety of ways.
Although classrooms are places of specific disciplinary learning, Christian teachers should recognize and embolden the pursuit of knowledge as it leads to godly wisdom. As Proverbs 1:7 articulates, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Therefore, our starting place for all knowledge, secular or sacred, should be knowing and submitting to the Lord, understanding that all truth is His Truth (Ps. 89:11), whether found in Scripture, under a microscope, in a textbook, or from the mouth of a non-believer. To those who seek such wisdom, the Lord graciously offers to give it (Jas. 1:5) and blesses them by it (Prov. 3:13). For these reasons, Christian instructors should seek to foster hearts within their students that thirst after the Lord, seek to find Him in their disciplines, and submit all their learning to His purposes.
Christian’s View of Subject Matter and Curriculum
A Christian worldview should intentionally be applied to all subjects and curriculum. From this standpoint, teachers may discerningly use widely the resources available, remembering to “test everything; hold[ing] fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). Dividing the secular from the sacred works counter to the truth displayed in Scripture: God created all things to glorify and point to Him (Deut. 10:14; Job 12:7-10). Commonly held “secular” studies, therefore, fall beneath the authority and dominion of both God and mankind. All subjects should be integrated with biblical truth and approached from a Christian worldview. Within this construct, students should not simply be taught factual truths, but encouraged and given the opportunity to think critically and apply biblically their Christian worldview to all subjects and all subject matter.
Furthermore, because our Creator is a logical and orderly God who allows Himself to be known, we then can be assured that His creation is also logical, orderly, and able to be known. Following in the footsteps of Johannes Kepler, Christian teachers should recognize that "the chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us…" (Kline, 1980, p. 31). Students should be taught on the basis that subjects are logical, orderly, and able to be known. In a practical sense, this means using grammar and logic as a foundation for all subjects, and that teachers should intentionally and systematically plan lessons with explicit instructions and expectations, allow material to build upon itself, and adhere to firm but loving discipline.
Teaching and learning with logic and order does not mean there is no room for creativity. Being made in the image of the Creator also means that man is creative and capable of great creative works. Even when painting, composing, dancing, or writing, one cannot ignore the logic and order of the world, mankind, and their own craft. Paint will fall because gravity exists, music is performed methodically, dance is contingent upon the physics of the body, writing would be useless without words and sentences, and so on. In their creative endeavors, Christians can emulate the Lord, bring Him glory, and use their gifts to advance His kingdom.
Christian educators have a unique and valuable role in the shaping and training of young minds, hearts, and bodies. Teaching should always be approached in an orderly manner and as a holistic endeavor, involving multiple areas of learning which engage, equip, and inspire students as they prepare to become productive members of the workforce, society, and, hopefully, the kingdom of God. Christian teachers should be godly models to and advocates for all students, meeting them where they are and striving to uplift them. As Christian teachers contend for learning that surpasses just classroom content and lean into the Lord for all understanding, they will be in a position to exemplify to their students that “the teacher is not the one with greater knowledge but with a greater natural curiosity to pursue the questions we all encounter,” and hopefully their “enthusiasm for discovery [will] become contagious among [their] students” (Wilkin, 2014, p. 132), equipping them with far more than just a curricular understanding of content: endowing them with a lifelong love of learning which chases the heart and mind of the Lord.
Kline, M. (1980). Mathematics: The loss of certainty. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Wilkin, J. (2014). Women of the word: How to study the Bible with both our hearts and our minds. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.