As you begin your planning for professional development and goal setting for next school year, I would like to revisit the basics of biblical worldview. I invite all of you to assess your school in at least two important areas: to what extent do you intend to integrate worldview principles into your practice, and to what extent are you actually doing so?
Principle 1: God’s Sovereignty
It’s all about God! We hold a very high view of God’s sovereignty: God’s plan, God’s will, God’s power. Everything that happens in the world, from the acts of nations to the faith of individuals, is ultimately under God’s sovereign control.
We find it comforting that God’s infinite love and grace are coupled with God’s power and ability to work on our behalf. You see, we know that no human thought or speech or action or desire is completely free of the effects of the Fall. Even our will is tainted. Therefore we cannot help ourselves; we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Our only hope, then, is to admit that we have a sin problem, that we are powerless to help ourselves, and that we need to ask for God’s intervention. Since God has already stirred such a desire in us, we are sure that he will answer our cry.
Mysteriously, God doesn’t accomplish his will apart from human faith and action. We focus on how God calls people into relationship with him, urging people to say yes to God’s offer of salvation in Jesus and offer their lives to God in return. Although we’re deeply involved in responding to God’s love in Jesus Christ, salvation is ultimately God’s work from beginning to end.
Principle 2: Our Covenant God
A covenant is like a contract or a treaty. It involves partners who make promises to each other and then seal the deal in some appropriate way—with signatures, for example. The Bible talks of God as a “covenant-making God,” meaning that he makes promises and keeps them. (The word testament, as in Old and New Testaments, really means “covenant.”)
God makes firm covenant promises to love and protect, to care for and guide his people—in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. Though our promises prove feeble, God’s are firm. In fact, God can carry our covenant all by himself.
We profess that God’s promises are not simply made to individuals but to a community. Not only that, they are generational. We take our cue from God’s Old Testament covenant with the people of Israel. And we note that on the day of Pentecost, in the first Christian sermon, the apostle Peter urges adult Jews to “repent and believe” this new interpretation of the events of Jesus’ life and death and their complicity in it. When they do so, he says, they will receive the promised Holy Spirit, which is “for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39). Even in the New Testament, God’s promises are communal and generational.
Principle 3: Proclaiming the Kingdom of God
A final word that’s important to us is kingdom. Kingdom takes in all of human culture throughout the world. Unlike nations on earth, God’s kingdom does not have defined borders. It is not restricted to a certain location, like a cathedral, nor can it be reduced to “religious” activity. By God’s kingdom, we mean God’s sovereign rule, God’s sphere of influence. We believe that God’s Spirit is busy extending God’s rule all over creation.
Certainly God’s reign is evident in spiritual experiences of renewal and change. But it is also evident in God’s gracious upholding of creation day by day, season by season. God’s reign is evident anywhere God’s will is done—in actions, lives, technology, artistry, and institutions.
God calls each of us to participate in the spread of his kingdom. The whole world is a place where we can carry out the mission of restoring God’s creation. In the memorable words of the statesman and pastor Abraham Kuyper, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
Our kingdom focus means avoiding any division between sacred and secular. We encourage endeavors in any sphere of human activity: art, media, publishing, law, education, labor relations, care-giving, agriculture, business, social justice, and politics. No area of human enterprise is exempt. Christian communities have established Christian schools from preschool to graduate school—not to protect students from the world but to give them the tools to engage any aspect of culture from the perspective of God’s kingdom. After all, it’s God’s world.
Jesus came to inaugurate the kingdom of God. His victory over sin and death turned the tide. Though sin, brokenness, and evil are still evident in the world, God’s kingdom is already here and is still coming. Someday Christ will come again, bringing the kingdom in full. In the meantime, we pray and act for God’s kingdom to come.
Principle 4: Our Reformed Perspective on Education
We have our roots in the Reformation and share basic beliefs with all Christians, but also emphasize certain principles:
- The purpose of Christian education is to prepare students to live as Christians in the world, not to shelter them from it. Indeed, our purpose is to raise up agents of transformation toward shalom. In N.T. Wright’s words, we and our students our called to be “co-creative image bearers.”
- God reveals himself through the Bible (special revelation) and through his creation (general revelation). The Bible serves not only to inform us about God, but also to interpret the world as God’s creation and to enable us to see his hand behind all things. Every area of the school’s curriculum contributes to our understanding of who God is and his lordship over all creation.
- God is sovereign over the entire cosmos, and for that reason we need to study all aspects of creation. We teach God’s claim over all parts of creation, society, and our lives.
- Sin has corrupted not only people, but also the entire creation. God not only redeems his people, but also will restore creation to its original good and pure state.
- People and organizations are neither totally good nor evil. We teach our students to discern what is good, beautiful, and true, based on God’s Word.
- God is a covenant God. Just as he entered into a covenant with Abraham, so he enters into a covenant with us to be a God to us and to our children. He forgives our sins, renews us through the Holy Spirit, and gives us eternal life. Our part of the covenant is to live in thankfulness, working toward the coming of his kingdom, caring for his creation, sharing the good news of salvation, acting as his agents of mercy, and preparing our children to do the same.
- We are called to love God above all, and also to love our neighbor as ourselves. As members of a community, we demonstrate love and support to one another and teach our students to do likewise.
Blessings as you reflect and plan for next year!
– Bart Den Boer, worldview specialist