All things are yours.
I asked students and colleagues how the marriage of biblical integration had impacted their lives. Four themes emerged. Biblical integration teaching understands everything is theological, biblical, whole, and enjoyable.
Everything is whole: “in Christ all things are held together” (Colossians 1.17).
The unity of truth is biblical synthesis, wholeness, the permeation of God’s Word through all studies. Ronnie, a Christian apologist, reminds his audiences “every area of study is fragmented, shattered by the effects of sin; the integration of God’s Truth with all life restores completion.” Steve, an architectural designer, maintains that
“The creative process requires heart investment, intention, planning, regular maintenance, and extreme attention to detail. Architects are the designers of our places of living, working, and playing as God is The Designer of all creation.”
My colleague Colleen reflects those creational standards in her teaching of Advanced Placement English. “Order, symmetry, variety, and purpose set the standard for writing persuasive essays,” she says, adding, “I found integrating biblical truth with academia fuels my passion for teaching and learning.”
Kevin is one of my passionate learners, committed to understanding life’s wholeness. Working as an architect, Kevin explains the Hebraic model of learning changed his life.
Jewish understanding of life is all inclusive. All things connect in one way or another. Studies in Old Testament Survey and Theology of Culture proved to create a systemic shift in my learning style and my worldview. The Hebraic mindset changed my vantage point forever. Movies, billboards, political rhetoric, my toddler’s bedtime books, architecture, aging parents; I now see all of life through a theological lens. This ever-expanding perspective can be overwhelming, but I am grateful for it, because I see more of my sovereign God than ever before.
Tom, a friend and colleague in Christian education, says “the integration of faith in learning is an irreplaceable element of the Christian academy; from it we invest in the whole truth as a way of instructing.” God sustains His creation, giving everything wholeness.
Everything is enjoyable: “all people who study God’s works delight in them” (Psalm 111.2).
God has given us everything to enjoy (1 Timothy 6.17), satisfying the marriage of academics with a Christian lifeview. Justin, a worship pastor, says learning to think as a Christian made “college classes a playground of ideas, a jungle gym upon which to develop my mental muscles. God’s Word provides the depth of genius for the brilliance of Michelangelo or the soaring strains of Paganini.” Sonja, who has worked as a Christian school teacher, declares “God does not fit into our world but rather we are in His world; we discover worlds within worlds, reflecting the wonder and wisdom of God.”
Taylor has been a Christian school teacher and musician, trained to see wonder.
“My biblical education has given me a great window through which I can see the world. I can safely hold up anything to the light of God’s Word. I can properly respond to those things that I am told are beautiful or true because I have been given tools by which I can truly distinguish whether or not those things are beautiful or true.”
Joy in life for Mary Ellen is being able to answer the question “So What?” As an editor, she takes delight in the arrangement of words. Teresa, a colleague, finds pleasure in being able to biblically answer the question “Why do I have to learn this?” Katie is a public school teacher of the arts, both visual and literary. Her focus is on students
Paying attention to sehnsucht—the joyful longing we feel when we encounter the very beautiful. Poetry and visual art were and are places to experience Joy, to see God’s presence, and we long for them because they show us pieces of who He is. I think that it was my experience in Christian education that made me want to be a teacher myself.
Noelle, a science teacher colleague, loves to look down “into a microscope and see the detail of a cell or study the patterns within the periodic table, then move my gaze up to the One who is sovereignly holding all things together.” Beth, another Christian school coworker, loves to help her first graders see the transformation of the caterpillar to butterfly: God’s way of change. Teachers and students agree. A biblically integrative view of life means everything is enjoyable.
Tovey’s original remark is confirmed by many: a Christian view of thinking is not about one thing, it’s about everything.
Wedding bells ring daily at the Christian school for the marriage of faith with learning. All truth is united under the Lordship of Jesus. Whether we study ABC’s, grammar rules, the Greek empire, or laws of science we do so in gratitude to The Creator of the universe Who has given us His Word to understand His works.
Nate, the only student I taught in both high school and college, always tells me with a smile, “You ruined watching movies for me because you taught me how to watch movies.” Nate has been teaching in Christian education for over a decade. K.C. spent 15 years within secular universities as both a student and as a professor on the tenure track. She recounts,
“The pedagogical umbrella of Christian World and Life Studies gave me invaluable tools of Biblical discernment, helping me to live as salt and light while remaining in the world, but not of it.”
Nathan, a business man, summarizes the wedding of academics with biblical understanding.
My knowledge of covalent bonds or unraveling a lengthy algebraic equation may have lapsed. However, I will always remember the importance of looking at every decision through the lens of Scripture. Every classroom session and every homework assignment was geared towards enabling students to integrate Biblical principles, applying those universal truths for a lifetime.
My students and colleagues concur with Paul, “So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether . . . the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3: 21-23).
Dr. Mark Eckel (ThM, PhD) is Vice President of Academic Affairs, Director of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Professor of Old Testament at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis. He also teaches M.A., Ed.D., and Ph.D. courses for various schools. Dr. Eckel taught junior and senior high students in Christian schools for 17 years. Purposeful Design published two of Dr. Eckel’s curricula: Let God Be God and Timeless Truth. Dr. Eckel continues to speak on behalf of Christian education. His weekly essays can be accessed at www.warpandwoof.org. The full text of this essay will appear in ACSI’s Christian School Education, 16.3, April, 2013.