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Educational Emptiness

This may sound strange coming from a professional educator, but sometimes I really hate Education. Education is one of the modern day false gods in which millions of people place their faith, sacrificing their time, money, and energy in the vain pursuit of happiness through knowledge. During Satan’s third temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8,9), Satan took Jesus up to a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory, and said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.” This is the same lie from the lips of modern Education.

Dying for Education

Elementary-age children in some Asian countries stay up until 11 o’clock at night or later doing homework after spending the day in school and attending after school “academies” to prepare them for exams that will determine their ranking and their future. Parents pay hundreds and thousands of dollars a month to help their children navigate the educational gauntlet that will help them get into a “good college” to earn a degree (or two or three) that will secure them a “good job,” so they can enjoy a “good life.” There are young people who are committing suicide in their attempts to appease the false god of Education.

I was in China last week where I interviewed a family who wanted to put their child in an international school that will open this fall. The child was a bright boy who spoke three languages — English, Korean, and Chinese — and was an athlete with lots of charm and spirit. The interview was going well until the boy’s mother asked if the school would be as good as a highly regarded international program that I shall not name here. My heart sank a little, because this was not the first parent to ask this question. Chinese parents have heard that this international program has a prestigious reputation and that a diploma from this program will open doors for study at top-tier universities in America. But these parents are only seeing the tempting glory of an earthly kingdom; what they do not see is the unbiblical worldview that is the foundation of the program which will be shaping their sons’ and daughters’ hearts and minds, conforming them to this world.

Conformed to Who?

As Christian parents and educators, we are in the midst of a great spiritual battle. On the one side is Satan and his kingdom offering us the world if we will only bow down and worship him, if we will simply conform to the system of thinking with this world. On the other side is God who has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Scripture admonishes us to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Christian education is mind-renewing and life-transforming. Christian education doesn't promise anything besides conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet

Is that enough? Do we really believe that if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness that everything we need will be added unto us? Or, will we desire the glory of kingdoms of this earth and bow down and worship a false god, such as Education?

Learning is necessary and wonderful, and the Scriptures encourage us to study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15). A major part of the work of the Church is educational in nature; and the Holy Spirit gives gifts of teaching to believers to help instruct and edify the body of Christ. But education cannot take the place of God.

Education is not going to save the world, no matter how many people think so.

In 1 Samuel 12, the prophet Samuel tells the people gathered for King Saul’s coronation, “Serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing” (1 Samuel 12:20-21). The educational system of this world is empty, it is nothing, it cannot profit or deliver. We mustn’t allow the world’s education system to become an idol in which we put our faith and serve. An idol is nothing. Knowing and serving God is everything. “For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10).

Dan Dunbar

Dan Dunbar

Dan Dunbar is a Christian academic leader and school head. He holds a principal certification from ACSI as well as TEFL certification. He earned his first Bachelor's degree in Education from North Adams State College (now known as Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts). His second degree was from Stevens School of the Bible, where he majored in Christian Leadership. Read more from Dan at What Was I Thinking
Dan Dunbar

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Comments(2)

  1. Reply
    Sheetal says

    It was Amazing to read this.
    Encouraging to me as a parent to teach the value of Christ centered education to the next generation.

  2. Reply
    Andy Valaitis says

    Thanks, Pastor Dan, for your encouraging word of exhortation to beware making an idol of education. Having taught for over 30 years in both Christian and public schools, in America and abroad, I can witness to how often false hopes have been placed in education when the world view only includes this world and this life. “Eat, drink, and have a good education, for this life is all there is.” That’s the thinking whose hope is only in this life when there is no faith and hope in a resurrection. What we still need is to work out (not work up) a clearer understanding of what exactly IS Christian thinking and Christian education, and to gather, as believers, around that. We must be careful not to dismiss elements of thought and learning that are part of the world’s thinking, when they are also, to some degree, the same elements found in a Christian, Spirit-led art and science of learning and thought. In essence, Christian thought goes beyond the constricting limits of natural creation and reaches into the eternal beyond. How can we fully understand the Book of Nature if we are not fully acquainted with the Bible, God’s book of special revelation?

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