Educating for Transformation

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[blockquote]We fail our students if we only dispense information and not ‘heart.'[/blockquote]

But educating students in the grand narrative of the Bible must be accompanied by helping them find their place in the story. God is not a part of our story, we are a part of His story; and we are not saved for privilege but for service in His kingdom as Christ-centered, biblically minded pastors, teachers, musicians, social workers, business people, counselors, scholars, bank tellers, computer programmers, doctors, lawyers, salesmen, plumbers, and homemakers. We seek to help students discover and develop the way God has crafted and gifted them for service in His kingdom.

Educating for TransformationThird, developing a biblical mind and heart is about God-centered skillful living, or in other words, biblical wisdom. Biblical wisdom and biblical worldview are interconnected as different aspects of God’s perspective. Biblical wisdom is centered in the fear of the Lord – joyful submission to God’s authority and majesty. Ultimate wisdom is found in Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God. Jesus restores the right relationship we need with our Creator. And the Creator designed life to be lived according to His design. So in a fallen and broken world, biblical wisdom is about the ability to steer successfully through life. But, like biblical integration, biblical wisdom is not merely a religious activity – it encompasses all of life (see 1 Kings 4:29-34, for example). Biblical wisdom is about developing skill in academics, relationships, ministry, physical exercise, healthy eating, time management, personal conflicts, work habits, and all that encompasses the life we live in the world in which we live. We strive to help students embrace wisdom by encouraging them to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and practice it outside the classroom – learning and living, living and learning.

Fourth, developing a biblical mind is not just about what you know but whom and what you love. I speak here about the importance of “affections.” Not feelings or emotions, as wonderful and fickle as they can be, but about the biblical idea of “the heart.” When Paul exhorts believers to “present your bodies as living sacrifices” in the same passage as transformation by the renewing of our minds, he speaks to the whole person, not just to a mind disconnected from the heart. We fail our students if we only dispense information and not “heart.” I always start my Introduction to the Bible course with two important principles in reading the Bible. First, we read the Bible to know and love God and second, our primary posture in reading the Bible is not to master the text but to be mastered by the text – mind and heart.

Transformation by the Living and Written Word of God in the context of a university education is a cooperative effort. If we as teachers, administrators, and staff want to see transformation happen in the lives of our students, we have to be engaged in that same transformative process. We must be biblically minded, Christ-centered men and women of character. And, as always, transformation is about the work of God, in Christ, by His Spirit. We must serve our students by being faithful gardeners, trusting God for the growth.

Educating for TransformationThe student who apologized for flunking my Bible test was a freshman. Recently I was talking with another student of mine who completed her education at PBU. She related to me a situation where she found herself in a group counseling session with a therapist. It was clear to this student that even though the content and methodology of this counselor seemed like “workable advice,” a very non-biblical worldview was being presented. When the therapist asked for feedback the only one to speak up was this student even though there were other Christians in the group. This student presented a critique from a biblical viewpoint. Her comment to me: “I was able to recognize her worldview for what it was and take everything she said and run it through a biblical grid. At that moment I was so grateful for my PBU education.”

To help a student grow from a freshman who knows a lot about the Christian life but not much about the Bible to a graduate who is a Christ-centered, biblically minded woman or man of character – this is our hope and purpose.

[framed_box]Mark Jalovick, Th.M., is the Director of PBU’s Wisconsin Wilderness Campus.  He has been at PBU since 1998.