“Mark, I want to apologize for flunking your Bible test.” It was about seven weeks into fall semester when a student walked into my office to offer this apology. I chuckled and told him that he didn’t need to apologize for flunking but also challenged him to use this failure as a motivation to go deeper in his knowledge of the Bible. Then he said something that struck me as incredibly ironic. “In the time I’ve spent in Bible classes here I’ve come to realize that while I could tell you a lot about the Christian life, I don’t know much about the Bible.” While I understood what he meant – that many Christians can tell you the basics of “getting saved,” “living for Jesus,” and “going to heaven,” without having a fuller knowledge of the history, literature and theology of the Bible – his statement prompted me to reflect on the place of the Bible in the life of a Christian and more specifically in the lives of Christian young men and women studying in Christian higher education.
When Paul exhorts believers not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2), he bases this exhortation on everything he just said about Jesus Christ and the Scriptures in the previous eleven chapters. The Living Word and the Written Word are both central and crucial to real transformation. And being a Christian does not mean that we merely know information about Christ and the Bible but that our whole way of thinking and living is centered in and informed by the Bible’s view of reality – that which is true, right and good. As a biblical university, we believe it’s not saying enough to talk about “a Christian worldview” or “faith-based education.” While there are many things we want to accomplish as a biblical university, educating students to serve Christ as biblically minded men and women of character is at the center of everything.
There are many specifics that go into educating for the transformation of head and heart but in broad strokes let me paint something of a picture for you of how we hope to accomplish this transformation at PBU. First, developing a biblical mind and heart is about understanding the biblical answers to life’s biggest questions. Philosopher Arthur Holmes labels these universal kinds of questions, “worldviewish theology.” “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What is really real?” “What is the truly good life?” “How do we know?” My students and I joke that when you don’t know an answer to a question in class, just answer “Jesus.” While many students can talk in general terms about the answers to life’s questions, often the answers all sound like “Jesus.” Many Christians can’t articulate biblical answers to life’s most basic questions. We seek to help our students think hard about clear, precise, and specific biblically immersed responses to life’s ultimate questions.
[blockquote align=”left”]We seek to help students integrate a biblical perspective, which is to say God’s perspective, into all of life and learning -[/blockquote]But a biblical worldview must go beyond information to integration. A God’s eye view of reality must extend to all of life and not just to “religious” things. True biblical integration does not compartmentalize into sacred and secular. We seek to help students integrate a biblical perspective, which is to say God’s perspective, into all of life and learning – in science, mathematics, psychology, music, literature, political science, communication. And not just in academic disciplines but in sports, student organizations, entertainment, dorm life, social events. Biblical integration is not simply doing a devotional before math class, saying a prayer before a ball game or tacking Bible verses onto a dorm bulletin board. Instead it is discovering and understanding the way God has imbedded truth, order, and beauty into mathematics, comprehending why and how humans should engage in sport, and having the attitude of Christ when dealing with conflicts in dorm life.
Second, and connected very closely to knowing biblical answers to life’s ultimate questions, is the matter of understanding the grand story of the Bible. We seek not merely to teach students the stories of the Bible, but to impart to them THE story that informs all competing stories of reality. We offer our students a “big picture”; a coherent and unified story of reality that, in the words of Neil Postman, gives them “a sense of coherence in their studies, a sense of purpose, meaning and interconnectedness in what they learn.” When we talk about the God who crafted a good creation and blessed humans with the privilege and responsibility of building human culture, we speak to the significance of all kinds of work – creating, exploring, teaching, organizing, developing, and worshiping. When we look at human rebellion we seek to understand deeply how the world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to twist and distort God’s good creation. We reflect on how sin has affected God’s blessings of food, drink, work, sex, and play, and consider how we are to respond by applying a biblical worldview to crafting social policy, counseling adults, educating children, running a business, creating music and art, and even making good coffee. When we behold the climax of the grand story, Jesus Christ and His redemptive work, we seek to work out His commission to make disciples by teaching them to do all that He commanded. We labor in the power of the Spirit to bring life to the world. We work in the name of Jesus to save babies, to free captives of sex slavery, to plant trees, to bring the gospel to all peoples in anticipation of the day when all things will be made new in the new creation.