Karl Barth, eighty five years ago, told his theology students to take their Bibles and their newspapers, and read both. “But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”
All cultures seek to provide a coherent set of answers to the existential questions of life. Language carries those cultural messages. There is no doubt that western culture is experiencing a cultural revolution that is a decisive break from the shared meanings of the past as it relates to identity, purpose and destiny. Vishal Mangalwadi in his book “The Book that Made Your World”, refers to the Bible as the soul of western civilisation, because it provided the fertile ground for the development of human civilisation – the notion of human dignity and equality, justice, rationality, family, scientific, and technological advancement, great literature, economic progress, compassion and political freedom. It had a significant role in the transformation of education.
Our western culture has become a ‘cut-flower’ culture. Flowers when cut from their roots can survive in water for a few days and give out their fragrance but eventually they will die. Our culture has been cut from its roots and is losing the script for living which flowed from a Judeo-Christian understanding of the world.
For many, these truths and values are now preferences or seen as irrelevant or actively rejected.
“Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God, say, in 1500 in our western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?”
To live in the pre-modern world was to be involved in the social practices, stories and rituals that bound people together for the common good. Disbelief had communal repercussions.
Now individuals become the meaning-makers, the loss of social cohesion means that disbelief no longer has social consequences. To live in this secular age is to inhabit the tension that belief in the living God is difficult for our children where the world seeks to enculturate them into their dominant story.
This capitulation can be invisible, slow and unreflective, just like flowers dying in a vase. God’s Word reminds us of this danger “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done. . .”
Every Christian school and teacher must go on their own journey to understand and embrace what it means to embody the priorities of God’s Kingdom in their context for each succeeding generation.
The school community conserves and passes on the story and worldview of its tradition, meaning, purpose, roots, cultural anchor points and accumulated wisdom. . . faith in God, trust in His Word, personal salvation in Christ, reliance on His Spirit, commitment to family and community, a calling of service and self-sacrifice. . . Telling the Christian story, it conserves the truths of the gospel and uses them to answer questions for the student such as: ‘Who am I? Why am I here? What is life for?’The school community discerns the spirit of our times. It encourages critical analysis of the world and human experience. . . It tests all things and holds fast to the good.
The school community inquires how the tradition it is conserving leads to reforming society. It is guided by a vision of a new and better world: the Kingdom of God. It models and teaches a life of reforming discipleship that is responsive to God as it works in creation and the structures of society.
May you be inspired to go on that journey of discovery to grow and develop as a disciple of Jesus who can tell the wondrous story of Christ in all dimensions of your educational practice.
“6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8)
Grace and Peace
The Excellence Centre
 Time Magazine (May 1963). Barth in retirement.
 Smith, JKA. (2014) How (not) to be Secular”.
 Judges 2:10
 Stronks, G.G., & Blomberg, D.G. (1992). How do we Forge a Community for Learning? In a Vision with a Task. Christian Schooling for Responsive Discipleship. Baker Publishing Group.