The first two posts in this series discussed 1) the problems created in Christian education when the Bible is not soundly integrated into the curriculum and 2) Level 1 Bible Integration (BI) at BJU Press. Now on to level 2!
Level 2: Responding with the Bible
2a Serving with the Discipline
Using the academic matter to become more effective in obeying the Creation Mandate and loving your neighbor.
If most readers of this blog are like I was, they will be a little nonplussed—maybe worse—by the moniker “Creation Mandate.” Sounds like those people who want the church to take over the U.S. government and execute all the Democrats.
I doubt you’ll find anyone who actually espouses that position (maybe just some of the Democrats and a few compromising Republicans), and it’s certainly not an accurate depiction of the Bible’s teaching. The Bible is clear about the importance and continuing validity of the Creation Mandate. It’s in the very first chapter of Scripture for all to see!
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26-28)
I’ve written about this before. Suffice it to say that 1) the Great Commission does not abrogate or even conflict with the Creation Mandate (or vice versa) and 2) as soon as you start trying to obey the latter you start running into the academic disciplines. And if you add in the simple but sweeping Second Great Commandment—“love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18)—you have an additional major reason to engage in wise dominion.
- In science, you may need to find the best way to manage soil erosion along the Mississippi River. You’d be serving your many neighbors up and down its banks if you came up with even one good idea.
- In language arts, you may write some poetry that helps people deal with the reality of death.
- In math, you may produce some mathematical modeling for weather prediction which saves much people alive.
- In history, you may use the patterns of historical events in a given region to determine when it is prudent to go to war.
2b Worshiping with the Discipline
Using the academic matter to declare God’s glory.
But obeying the Second Great Commandment can never be an end in itself, because there is one mandate that supersedes it: “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Every academic discipline is a means for worshiping and glorifying God directly.
- Language arts can glorify God by declaring His greatness and goodness in many forms—journaling, hymn writing, even writing (or just studying!) something like the Chronicles of Narnia.
- In math, a student of the discipline could use the mathematical concept of infinity to declare God’s greatness.
- In history, it’s a delicate matter, but we do have Bible guidelines for tracing God’s providence (I Cor. 15:25-28; Eph. 1:9-10).
- In science, studying the vastness and complexity of interstellar space is even enough to make many non-Christians marvel (Ps. 19). That marveling ought to become worship for the Christian (Ps. 8:3–4).
Level 2, Eschatology, and the Great Commission
There are some real issues of eschatology which I have completely papered over in this section, but for most people it should be enough to read—to really read—God’s original and abiding purpose for mankind on earth in Genesis 1. There’s much more to our lives than obeying the Creation Mandate, but nothing less. For me this is an issue of biblical obedience. It would be as wrong for me to disobey the Creation Mandate as it would to ignore the Great Commission.
Plus, I find that Matthew 28:19-20 can’t bear the weight of the academic disciplines. If the only reason I am here on earth is to evangelize, why bother with any school past the age when I can share the gospel and make a living to support my gospel work? And if the only justification for sitting through Art History class is the potential that I might witness to an art buff sitting next to me on a plane, are my many class-hours staring at details from Fra Angelico really worthwhile? Exactly how many art facts do I need to know to have intelligent discussion with my seatmate?
There’s got to be a better foundation for Christian academic study than providing evangelistic conversation starters.
Read all the posts in this series: