Medieval Wisdom for Modern Universities
by Charles Cherry
Here is an excellent essay on the contemporary state of higher education, and some ideas for making it better:
I think some of these ideas can and should be incorporated into the educational environments in our local churches.
For too long churches [Protestant churches, at least] have abdicated their responsibility to help in the proper education of our young people, and I believe it is high time to repent and return to a more holistic view of salvation.
What I mean by that is just this: salvation of the entire individual – body, mind, heart, and soul. Our highest calling as human beings is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the call of the Hebrew Sh’ma:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
This command was reiterated by Jesus when He said that it was the Greatest Commandment:
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'” (Mark 12:29-30)
I believe the church needs to be much more focused on saving the whole person, body, soul (mind and will), and spirit. Christian leadership cannot continue to rely on state-controlled institutions to “save” the mind, while they focus on the heart and the wallet. It is evident, at least to me, that the heart and the mind cannot be divorced. Where the mind goes, the heart follows.
Our churches do passing job of challenging the heart, and some churches even do a passing job of leading people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Our churches do a lousy job of challenging the mind – especially the minds of our youth, who are increasingly being led away from godly Truth into a mindless life of narcissism and self-indulgence.
What can the church do to regain, retain, and strengthen the minds of our youth? I think a starting point is make good education a priority. Churches should invest in establishing structures and environments that encourage intellectual pursuits and that challenge our youth to move beyond the banalities of twitter and facebook and to think broadly and deeply about serious topics.
[I am not advocating creating more or bigger “Christian schools.” I think the answer, while it might include “Christian schools,” needs to be much deeper and broader than just mimicking the government-run schools and adding a layer of Christianity on top.]
This emphasis has to be driven by the leadership, however. The average church-goer looks to leadership to determine what is important and what is not. When leadership emphasizes a particular project or topic, the majority of the congregation will see that project or topic as being important, and will focus their energies and emotions toward fulfilling the goals of leadership. When leadership neglects to emphasize something, that neglect filters down to the rest of the congregation, who rightly assume (consciously or subconsciously) the relative unimportance of that thing.
So far, at least in my limited experience, leading people to love God with “all of their minds” has been severely neglected by church leadership. I am sure there are a multitude of reasons and excuses why this is so; however, there seem to be no lack of resources expended toward leading people to love God with “all of their hearts.”