What makes an educated person?

Monday, October 1, 2012


In his book "Excellence Without a Soul," Harry R. Lewis, a former dean at Harvard University, addressed the topic of what makes an educated person, and whether professors and college officials embrace it.  He used Harvard as his case study, but many of his conclusions apply to the rest of higher education as well.  Lewis finds American universities "soul-less" and argues that they rarely speak as proponents of high ideals for future American leaders.  He bluntly states that Harvard "has lost, indeed willingly surrendered, its moral authority to shape the souls of students.  Harvard articulates no ideals of what it means to be a good person. Universities should be about what makes an educated person."

Nancy Pearcy in her book "Total Truth" states, "In many Christian Schools, the typical strategy is to inject a few narrowly defined 'religious' elements into the classroom, like prayer and Bible memorization—and then teach the same things as the secular schools.  Here we see the danger of the secular/sacred split: It concedes the 'theories, concepts and other subject matter' in our fields to nonbelievers."  She further states, "What is the antidote to the secular/sacred divide?  We must begin by being utterly convinced that there is a biblical perspective on everything—not just on spiritual matters.  The Old Testament tells us repeatedly that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’." (See Psalm 111:10 and other references)

In another book, "Faith and Learning on the Edge," David Claerbaut, provides an in-depth analysis of how many in Christian higher education are separating faith from learning.  About his days as a student in a Christian college he stated, "I felt I was receiving a type of baptized paganism, an essentially secular education delivered by a faculty comprised of Christians.  It seemed as if I was being taught by professors who happened to be Christians, rather than Christian professors.  In short, nothing in my undergraduate academic experience overtly strengthened my faith."

He describes Christian education as “teaching students to relate every academic discipline to God's truth and His self-revelation in Scripture, while detecting and critiquing non-biblical worldview assumptions.  It is a distinctly Christian view of what life is all about, about the nature of humankind, about what our purposes ought to be, and about where we are headed eternally."

This definition of Christian education essentially describes the mission of Corban University.  Our mission is to educate Christians who will make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ.  We want all of our students to consider their lives a ministry in whatever vocation they choose.  We base our philosophy of Christian education on biblical principles as stated in 2 Corinthians 10: 3–5:

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (v 5).

Charles Malik stated, "The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world."

We acknowledge that "[In Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).

Our educational goal is that all studies, philosophy and rhetoric follow this: that we may know Christ and honor him.  This is the end of all learning.  We do this so our students will achieve excellence with a soul. 

Biblical principles are the basis of a healthy community and how we all fit into it.  It is much easier to have a community when the members have a value system that is shared by all.  In our case, that value system is the common bond we have in Jesus Christ and the Bible.

As stated in 1 Peter 2:5: You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood."  This community is eternal and we will always be a part of it no matter where life takes us.    

Biblical principles are very important to Corban University because we want to (1) foster a transformative learning culture where a sustainable, biblical worldview takes shape; (2) build a Christian community that promotes worship, creative expression and activities that reflect God's character; and (3) cultivate a life of stewardship and service toward God, humanity and creation.  

We believe this is what makes an educated person.

  • Dr. Reno Hoff

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