Metaphors of Spiritual Reality Part 3: Evaluating Metaphors of Education -- By: Ted W. Ward

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 139:556 (Oct 1982)
Article: Metaphors of Spiritual Reality Part 3: Evaluating Metaphors of Education
Author: Ted W. Ward

Metaphors of Spiritual Reality
Part 3:
Evaluating Metaphors of Education

Ted W. Ward

[Ted W. Ward, Professor of Curriculum Research, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan]

[Editor’s Note: This is the third article in a series based on the author’s W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 9–12, 1982.]

What education is and how it can be used properly are matters too important to be left vague. Education suffers from overpopularity. Everyone has experienced it in one or many of its forms. Indeed, everyone “knows” what it is; education is commonplace. Self-appointed experts on education are everywhere. Small wonder then that so many ill-advised assaults on the human spirit are passed off as worthy educational ventures.

Three essentially different metaphors of education account for most of the thinking, planning, and operation of formal education. Each of these ways of conceptualizing education should be evaluated in terms of the Christian concern for spiritual development.

Is True Education Merely Intellectual?

Christianity is in large measure a rational religion. Spiritual development does not exclude any of the aspects of human personhood. Even the physical is an object of God’s redemption (Rom 8:11, 23; Phil 3:21). And surely the intellectual is not rejected, for the Word of God in two ways testifies to God’s valuing of human understanding: (a) it is a readable documentation, and (b) it explicitly says, “I would not have you to be ignorant.” To know God is a matter of experiential fellowship and communion based essentially on His revelation of Himself to humankind through the special revelation of the written Word. Even the Lord’s self-identification as “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14) is

made known to man by the explicit information of the written Word. These matters are made “knowable” through the mystery of God, Jesus Christ the Redeemer, whose work on man’s behalf can be grasped intellectually as textual information, confirmed within him by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and acted out in functional life as believers identify themselves with Christ in walk and conversation (Col 2; 3). Thus it should be seen that education which is concerned only with intellectual development or in which the acquisition of information as a compulsive priority is less than Christian.

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