The Importance of a Christian Worldview
by Dori Anne Abbott


A Question

Does a personal worldview matter in regards to one’s philosophy of education?

The Latin word, educare, from which we derive the word education, means to bring from a state of darkness into a state of light. The very nature of education then is value-laden, discriminating, and dependent on the unique ability of man over all the other animals to choose. I do not believe that one can teach from a vacuum. Absolute, objective, eternal truth guides our conclusions and choices in every aspect of life.

That being said, I fear that we as Christian educators have been guilty of turning out into the world several generations of students who either profess a Christian worldview but whose actions and reactions belie that claim; or we have turned out students who have tremendous head knowledge of right and wrong, and even tremendous passion to do the right thing, but they are not winsome witnesses for Christ. They are sometimes abrasive and out of touch with the culture to which they were called to serve and love.

"I fear that we as Christian educators have been guilty of turning out into the world several generations of students who...profess a Christian worldview but whose actions and reactions belie that claim..."

If we are honest about our track record as Christian educators, we have to ask ourselves this hard question: “If the majority of students coming out of all the Christian schools in the last forty years had adopted a Christian worldview in regards to ethics, morality, and justice, would our country be in the shape it is in now?” Would we have the biggest prison population of any country on the planet where one third of all adult men will spend time in prison where they will be schooled by hardened criminals and turned back out into society? Would we have stood by and watched the slaughter of over fifty-five million innocents since Roe v. Wade? Would we not be able to turn on our televisions without being assaulted by immorality? Would we not be able to enjoy technology and use the internet without knowing that 30 percent of all data running across it is pornographic in nature? Where are all the Christian school graduates? Surely some of them could have made a difference in the arts, literature, television, books, politics, technology, scientific research, and the like. Did we just want them to succeed financially, but not really change the world they live in? These are hard questions, but they beg to be answered.

More questions that need answers

After years training in Christian institutions, reading the finest books on the subject of worldview, and challenging every belief I grew up with, I realize that worldview is the work of an entire lifetime. We say that we have a Christian worldview, but what does that mean when it comes to education, politics, the arts and entertainment, literature, science and medicine, technology, and all other aspects of culture? How can we constantly challenge ourselves and our students to discern the often hidden, but sometimes blatant worldviews they encounter? More importantly, how can we equip them to answer questions that have not been yet asked—questions about ethics, morality, and justice that will arise in their lifetime that we as their teachers have not encountered? How can we help them find their calling—that unique niche for which God has gifted them—and encourage them to go into those arenas as educated, knowledgeable, winsome witnesses able to change the culture from the inside out?

"We need biblical saturation. Everything we teach must be driven through the sieve of God’s infallible word."

The need for biblical saturation

The first way we can do this is to realize that biblical integration is not enough. We need biblical saturation. Everything we teach must be driven through the sieve of God’s infallible word. To do this, a school must have teachers and parents adept at handling the Word, mature in their faith, and willing to challenge their own hidden worldviews as well as those around them. I believe it is chiefly the principal’s responsibility to lead in front by example in this regard. This choice of biblical saturation will affect the choice of curricula and influence the methods of teaching used in the classroom. For homeschool families, the parents take the lead in this.

The need to have wisdom above knowledge

The second way we do this is to prize wisdom above knowledge. Knowledge is important, but wisdom determines our actions and our reactions to the circumstances of life. Knowledge says that tomatoes are fruit. Wisdom says don’t put them in a fruit salad. I have long dreamed of a school that would have a seamless, integrated character curriculum and system of training for students based on the pattern found in 2 Peter 1:5-8. We are told there to add to our faith virtue; and to our virtue knowledge; and to our knowledge self-control; and to our self-control steadfastness; and to our steadfastness godliness; and to our godliness brotherly affection; and to our brotherly affection agape, self-sacrificing love. Earlier Peter exhorts leaders to shepherd the flock of God among them; exercising oversight, not for shameful gain, but as examples.

The need to focus on spiritual outcomes

The third way that we do this is to have an overarching system of discipline that focuses on the spiritual outcome and not on the immediate. By discipline I am not referring to punishment for infractions, but a system of training that takes students from the lowest level of moral development (fear of punishment) to the highest level which is a desire to do the right thing because of the value of their relationships with Christ, their parents, their teachers, their peers. This is the essence of kingdom citizenship. In my judgment if we have been given stewardship of a young life for eighteen years, and that student leaves us still doing the right thing only because he is afraid to be caught doing the wrong thing, then we have failed.

The need to see the big picture

The final way that we can equip students to make a difference in our world is by realizing that they need to see the bigger picture. Students in this generation who grew up with all of the possibilities and choices provided them by a globally connected, instantaneous, entertainment-driven society still need to realize the power of choice, the importance of their own voices, and the amazing sovereignty of God throughout not only world history, but their own histories as well. This is best accomplished in my opinion by teachers and parents who are passionate about showing God’s handiwork in all of science, His majesty in the transcendent themes of great literature, His infinite wisdom and orderliness in mathematics, His creativity in music and the arts, His working throughout history through the lives of men and women who used their power of choice to do the right thing often at great price. Students still need heroes, and we can give them those heroes to emulate—not sports heroes or singers, but real heroes (often unsung) who have made a difference in our world.

The sum of the matter

Students need to feel as if they matter, and I believe there is no more important feeling than the realization that Queen Esther came to when she was challenged with the idea that perhaps she had “come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” When students are captured by ideas and dreams bigger than their own personal problems, they are far less likely to fall prey to the myriad of problems plaguing their peers like low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and even suicide. The bottom line is that if they seek Him, they will find Him. If they find Him, they will know Him. If they know Him, they will love Him. And if they love Him, they will serve Him. We as teachers and parents can hope for nothing more.