Language matters. For years I have used the language of “integrating faith and learning” to describe what happens in Christian schools and colleges within subject area discipline curriculum development. I have come to the conclusion recently that it is inaccurate to continue to use this term and that it gives the hearer the wrong impression. By using such language, we may have fallen prey to Greek thinking – dividing ourselves and our world into soul and body, science and spirituality, and left-brain and right-brain, instead of seeing ourselves as unified and whole beings. If I think about day to day living I think about making decisions that reflect my Christian worldview based on my understanding of truth and obedience to God rather than thinking: “Well now how do I integrate my faith and my living?” It is not as if I need to constantly bring things together that are apart – I respond from my faith perspective – my view of how the world works.
If we believe that God rules over all things and that all creation coheres in Christ (Colossians 1:15-20) then all that is true in creation belongs already to God. “All truth is God’s truth” (Gabelein in The Pattern of God’s Truth, 1968) and Jesus is the truth of God (“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6). Therefore as we think about working with students, our task is to help them uncover God’s truth that already exists in creation. It is not a matter of marrying or bringing together our faith with what is true in the world – it is already united through Christ. What is true cannot exist apart from the sovereignty of God – it is his truth. As we uncover truth with students, we help them to see that God is the source of this truth and that all truth is brought together through Christ, who redeems and plans to restore all creation. We help students to understand the Master Story, the Big Story of God’s I Love You Plan, delivered through his son Jesus Christ, and how we are to understand truth in creation. We pray and work toward our student’s growth in faith through the learning process.
I have taken to using the words “truth revealing learning” instead of faith-integrated learning. I think it is a much better descriptor. I encourage us to develop minds that ask: “Where is God’s truth revealed in this aspect of learning? What does this teach me about him? What has happened from a human standpoint to obscure the truth? How has man subverted the truth? What must be done to restore truth from a Biblical perspective to this situation?”
If I am going to be an effective “truth-revealing” teacher, it is critical that I am deeply acquainted with God’s revealed truth, his Word, the Bible. Unless I am able to understand and apply God’s revealed truth to the truth in creation, I will not be able to teach a Biblical perspective to students. The teacher’s Biblical worldview is critical, as noted by Gabelein:
The fact is inescapable: the worldview of the teacher, insofar as he is effective, gradually conditions the worldview of the pupil. No man teaches out of a philosophical vacuum. In one way or another, every teacher expresses the convictions he lives by, whether they be spiritually positive or negative (The Pattern of God’s Truth, 1968).
It is also important that teachers work to understand deeply what biblical truth is revealed through particular disciplines, and what questions may be raised to provoke critical thinking by students around a biblical perspective on the topic at hand. This is intellectually challenging work, but very rewarding to help students develop toward wisdom.