got me a college girl

in celebration of formal education in the life of the Christian girl

Saturday, April 01, 2006

objectionable or not? (Shanna)

One of the most common arguments I've heard against formal education--for men or women--is that it exposes Christian students to objectionable elements.

The following quotation, which I just read in Christian Education: Its Mandate and Mission, gives an excellent response to those concerns:

"Our spiritual affinities are with these who hold the exclusivist position [the position described above], and our sympathies must be also. They are the ones with the sensitive consciences, the zeal for what is pleasing to God, the vigilance toward the moral erosion of society. But they should consider the implications of their position. To reject a work of literature or subject of study because of the presence of any amount of these elements within it is, first to apply a standard that precludes the possibility of a liberal arts education. We forego the major works of Shakespeare, Spenser, Pope, Swift, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Browning, Hawthorne, Melville, Clemens, Frost, and almost every other standard writer. We do not teach the Declaration of Independence, for its arguments are based on the secularist idea of natural rights. Even Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is suspect, for the key to the outer gate (the iron gate) of Doubting Castle, Bunyan tells us, turned "damnable hard." (Bunyan, of course, meant "able to damn," but he must also have been punning.)

Now if eschewing evil requires foregoing a liberal arts education even in a Christian educational environment, then so be it. No human educational values should be allowed to compete with spiritual. However, we recall that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Paul, we know, had the learning of the Greeks, for quotations and echoes of pagan writers appear here and there in his epistles. He knew Greek poetry well enough to quote from emory the minor poets Aratus and Epimenides of Crete on Mars Hill. Furthermore, of Daniel and his three friends we are told that "God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and widom" (Dan. 1:17). Evidently, in these cases, the divine preparation for leadership included familiarization with the writings not only of the inspired authors of the Scriptures but also of the poets, scientists, and philosphers of pagan intellectual and literary traditions. The exclusivist view, if consistently held, condemns the manner in which God conducted the preparation of these great men of Scripture or implies that God did not approve of it."


  • At 6:18 AM, Blogger Bekah said…

    I tend to laugh at people who argue against education for women (or anyone, for that matter) because of objectionable content. We would have to walk around blindfolded and deaf if we were to avoid that sort of thing! It's rather hard to be "wise as serpents yet gentle as doves" without understanding the sinful world around us, applying God's Word to it, and keeping ourselves in communion with God. If we retreat from knowledge, we're less than useful to the Kingdom.

  • At 7:08 AM, Blogger Ellen said…

    Newsflash: Being in the world exposes us to questionable elements.

    If we don't deal with them in college, we deal with them in the workplace (unless we move directly from Dad's house to Husband's house and never have a job, never go shopping, never read the news, etc...)

  • At 12:01 PM, Blogger givengrace said…

    I agree with you ladies, so, honestly, it's disturbing that I've heard this argument A LOT!

    In addition to your point that we can't possibly avoid all negative elements, think about the Bible--God's Word that Christians all hold in esteem, right? It contains every objectionable element you can imagine. Clearly then, it's not just the elements but the discernment of them and treatment of them that is important.

    I do think though that, as the above citation suggests, I should be patient with these confused Christians. It's good that they are sensitive to evil and wanting to lead holy lives. But their reasoning just doesn't follow through.


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