Our Philosophy of Education at Agape Christi answers the question, “What is education for?” We believe that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Furthermore, we believe that classical, Christian education is an important means to this end. As we as individuals glorify and enjoy God, the world around us is transformed. To express this philosophy in a threefold manner, we believe education is a gift from our Triune God that He uses to glorify man, so that man can in return glorify God and the world.
The Triune God
As Christians, we worship a Triune God. This Triune God is the Father Almighty, Jesus the eternally begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from both Father and Son. We do not worship a generic deity. Nor do we worship many deities. But neither do we worship a god who is only one person (as in Unitarianism). The three Persons of the Trinity glorify one another by manifesting or “bringing to light” each other’s particular attributes. The Father eternally glorifies the Son and the Spirit, and the Son eternally glorifies the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit eternally glorifies the Father and the Son. This same process of mutual self-giving forms the basis for our educational approach at Agape Christi Academy.
Purpose of Education
The Scripture teaches when we humble ourselves and exalt God’s name, He in turn bestows knowledge, understanding, and wisdom (Prov. 2:6, Prov. 9:10, James 4:6). We do not believe that education is merely for the sake of self-enlightenment, self-improvement, self-esteem, or worst of all, self-glorification; but rather, we believe that the primary purpose of education is to glorify and love God, a commandment which is fulfilled in love and service to others.
At Agape Christi, the focus is education for the sake of adoration – education for the sake of learning to better love our Lord through everything we think and do. The fundamental anthropological approach to education at Agape Christi does not revolve around the modern enlightenment educational notion of mankind as homo sapiens (knowing man), but rather mankind as homo adorans (worshiping man). That is, mankind was not created by God in the beginning to simply know about God, the world, and himself, but was created primarily to worship God in the beauty of holiness. Knowledge is an integral aspect to this worship, but it is not the only thing for which man was created. Man knows certain things so that He may learn to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength in every area of life. This is the biblical reason for rigorous academics.
Right-worship (the original meaning of orthodoxy) must proceed right-thinking (the modern notion of orthodoxy). As the Scripture says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures forever” (Psalm 110:10). Ultimately, no one can think rightly who is not worshiping rightly. In other words, knowledge is not an end in itself. Knowledge is nothing if it is not continually directed toward worshiping and serving our Triune God.
We believe that as faithful education glorifies our Triune God, He also bestows His glory upon us. Only He can glorify us, and not we ourselves (Romans 8:30, 2 Cor 3:18). Since God is the source of all liberty (2 Cor. 3:17), so it is only He who is the source of all liberal education. Classical, Christian education, then, is not glorious in, of, and for itself. It is glorious because the God who created heaven and earth makes it so as we seek to glorify Him with it in response to His grace. This means that if He does not freely give us this glory, then we are not able to glorify Him. Since we receive education as a gift from God, our response should be to thank Him with fruitfulness in our lives with the gift of education. In doing this, not only is education sanctified for His service, but also students are sanctified as they seek to honor God in all of their academic pursuits (John 17:17).
Glorify the World
God’s glory does not end when an individual receives it, but is to be extended out to the very corners of the earth, eventually engulfing the world (Isaiah 11:9, Hebrews 8:11, Psalm 72:19, Psalm 86:9). Since God created the world and man in it, commanding him to take dominion over the world, it is man’s duty to bring God’s glory to the world (Matt. 5:14–16). This can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge given to us through the Word of God. Thus, we at Agape Christi are committed to Christian education that will not only be for individual students but also education that will glorify God and therefore manifest His glory more fully in our world and culture.
In educating students with this in mind, we work in concert with their churches and families, preparing them to go out into the rest of their lives to fulfill the cultural mandate of fruitfully filling and taking dominion of the earth for our Triune God’s continued glory.
Source of Education
All knowledge is revealed knowledge, whether generally revealed to us in creation or specially revealed to us in His Word. All knowledge is given to us by God to enable us to adore Him more and is not something that we can attain on our own.
Revealed Common Knowledge
As Christian parents and teachers, we must understand that ultimately nothing can be known, and therefore taught, unless God has made it known. Without God there would be nothing to know and thus nothing to teach. For example, we cannot teach the parts of a flower unless God first created that flower and gave us the capacity to understand it. Even a seemingly “nonreligious” subject such as math cannot be taught unless God has first made it known. The only reason that 2+2=4 is that God created an orderly world which can be observed in languages such as mathematics. True, consistent education, then, is Christian education.
Christian education utilizes the whole Bible as its educational foundation. The apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful (or profitable) for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.” Not only is all Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit, but all of it is useful for teaching. The sixty-six books of the Bible, therefore, must be the final court of appeal for the curricula. We should not emphasize the New Testament as if it is not intrinsically connected to and begun in the Old Testament. Nor can we ignore difficult passages of Scripture that we may not yet understand rightly.
Given this, all teachers at Agape Christi must have a well-informed understanding of how the Bible forms the basis of, and applies to, their specific areas of education. Additionally, teachers need to work together to show students how each of their specific areas relate to one another. Since all subjects come from the same God, all subjects (whether music and math or history and literature) share common features. Agape Christi will continually revisit the curricula in order to teach students how different subject areas connect with one another according to God’s design.
The Proper End of Education
Education between Monday and Friday (though important) should not be considered the focal point of the week. Rather, the Lord’s Day should be considered as such. Therefore, at Agape Christi, the emphasis during the school week will be not only to train children in God’s truth but look forward and prepare ourselves for the following Sunday at our respective churches. Education, like everything else we do during the week, is what we bring before the Lord in worship (Romans 12:1). By faith we offer up to Him all that we’ve put our hands to during the week, and we do so knowing that He will be pleased with the works of our hands and bless it further as we offer it in faith (Hebrews 12:28–29). In other words, it is our conviction that our Triune God will not fully bless our work of education until He finds us seeking to glorify Him in all that we do—which is the proper end of education.