The Necessity of Humility in a Classical Christian Education
A Christian Classical Education seeks to prepare students to understand and view the world according to Scripture, and to provide them with the best tools for doing so. Teaching and forming students to these ends is no small calling, and one that rightly includes lofty aspirations for what the students will know and accomplish. By fostering critical and biblical thinking in the classroom, the students are equipped to exercise discernment in the world, particularly in relation to the philosophies and worldview they will encounter. As the chronicler penned, “Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32). A Christian Classical Education seeks to cultivate such young men and women. Or as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Arming students for such conflicts, even for such victories, is not only a fundamental goal but also a certain expectation of them having received a Christian Classical Education.
However, there is an inherent danger in such noble educational aspirations – namely the sin of pride. Given the fact that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5b), it is incumbent to cultivate humility in the classroom, as well as at home. The student who is well versed in the literature of the Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Worlds and who is capable of articulating the illogic and inconsistencies of false views and religions, but who lacks humility, is hardly adorning the glorious truths he is seeking to defend. The Apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle,
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
(1 Peter 3:15-16, emphasis added)
Peter is writing to Christians suffering under persecution, and they are to be ever at the ready with a gentle and respectful defense of the hope of their faith. Surely this serves as a model worthy of emulation for the Christian student who is classically trained, as he or she defends the faith in the present. Furthermore, humility is to be nurtured in recognition that all knowledge and understanding come from the Lord (Proverbs 2:6). In Daniel 1:17 we read of Daniel and his three friends who had been taken into captivity in Babylon, “As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom….” Certainly Daniel and his friends took their Chaldean studies seriously and diligently pursued their schooling, but it was the Lord who blessed such endeavors and gave insight. This remains true today for Christian Classical students using the talents that Lord has given them, the recognition of which must engender humility.
Written by Joe Thacker