Navigating Purpose: Re-integrating Faith and Learning, Redemption

Pinturicchio, The Resurrection, in the collection of the Vatican, photo courtesy of the Józef Piłsudski Institute of America via Wikimedia Commons

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. . . . For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven (emphases added). – Colossians 1:16-17, 19-20 (NASB).

Reflection

Earlier in this series, we explored how creation and the fall affects the integration of faith and learning. We turn now to redemption. Christ’s work of redemption establishes the basis for the re-integration of Christian faith and learning. Indeed, Paul’s vision of the “cosmic Christ of Colossians” (Holmes, p. 7) pictures him not only as the Savior of the soul, but of the entire cosmos. He made all things (ta panta in Greek), upholds all things, and has reconciled all things to God by the blood of his cross. This reconciliation includes the realm of education. In Christ, genuine faith and learning are put back together again.

The reconciliation or reintegration of genuine faith and learning is both the intellectual gift and the academic task that stems from the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a gracious intellectual gift, we are given the mind of Christ in whom, we discover, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (1 Cor. 2:16; Col. 2:3).

We also make the wonderful rediscovery of the world as God’s very good creation. We learn that human beings are made as the image and likeness of God with all the worth and significance associated with this identity. We understand our God-given spiritual, social, and cultural purposes. We now grasp how Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord has reconciled us to God and is making all things new. In other words, we have a new narrative based in Scripture that restores the true meaning of our lives and re-frames the principles, processes and purposes of education.

On this basis, our task is to figure out how to employ these and other truths to the study and teaching of all disciplines with maturity and sophistication as the central scholarly task of Christian education. Our goal is to apply Christian truths to the methods, content, and application of the various academic disciplines.

To be sure, this task transpires in the interval between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ—a time in which God’s kingdom is both present and future, already but not yet. Though God’s kingdom has already arrived, it has not yet been consummated. Biblical theologian George E. Ladd has explained the essential structure of New Testament theology in words that help us situate the educational task at the hyphen in the ongoing drama of redemptive history.

Our central thesis is that the Kingdom of God is the redemptive reign of God dynamically active to establish His rule among humanity, and that this Kingdom which will appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age, has already come into human history in the person and mission of Jesus to overcome evil, to deliver people from its power, and to bring them into the blessings of God’s reign. The Kingdom of God involves two great moments: fulfillment within history [already], and consummation at the end of history [not yet]. (Ladd, p. 91)

In this “time-between-the-times,” the effects of sin linger; the old age still exerts its powers. Spiritual kingdoms are still at war, Christians serve and sacrifice, and personal and cultural sanctification remain incomplete. The work of re-integrating faith and learning will be proportionately difficult in this hyphenated period of redemptive history.

Despite these challenges, the eschatological hope of the New Testament assures us that faith and learning will be perfectly reunited once again. When Christ returns and the eschaton is fully installed, divine and human knowledge, like heaven and earth, will be one.

They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,

For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD

As the waters cover the sea. – Isaiah 11:9

Presently, we know in part and we prophesy in part. Now we see in a glass darkly or a mirror dimly. But when Christ comes, we will know fully just as we have been fully known. Then we will apprehend all truth, goodness and beauty as God’s and in a manner analogous to which God apprehends them, He infinitely, and us finitely. Until then, we have good reasons based on the grand vision of the biblical narrative to enjoy the gift and be about the demanding task of re-integrating faith and learning.

Thought

Redemption allows, and even demands, the re-integration of faith and learning.

Summary of Series

  • Creation: the integration of Christian faith and learning
  • Fall: the disintegration of Christian faith and learning
  • Redemption: the re-integration of Christian faith and learning diligently pursued in the present (now but not fully yet the re-integration of Christian faith and learning graciously perfected in the future).

Prayer

Lord, in my efforts to re-integrate my faith and my scholarship, help me to recognize that Christ’s reconciling work makes possible, and even demands, the re-integration of faith and learning, now. In Christ’s name who lives and reigns with the Father and Holy Spirit—one God forever and ever. Amen.

Questions

Does Christ’s gospel interpreted as a work of reconciliation demand that his followers in the field of education attempt to reintegrate faith and learning as a way of sharing in the benefits of his reconciling work in which harmony between alienated parties is restored? Explain why or why not. Also, what would you predict to be the ultimate purposes or reasons for re-integrating faith and learning as this project is established upon the essential shape and content of the biblical narrative?

Further Reading

Holmes, Arthur. Building the Christian Academy. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001. P. 7.

Ladd, George E. A Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. P. 91.

Print Friendly
d1naugle@aol.com'

David Naugle

Dr. David K. Naugle is chair and professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University. He has two doctorates, a Th.D. in systematic theology and a Ph.D. in humanities with concentrations in philosophy and English literature. Dr. Naugle is the author of Worldview: The History of a Concept (Eerdmans, 2002) and Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness (Eerdmans, 2008), a Christianity Today 2003 Book of the Year. Dr. Naugle is an avid golfer, gardener, guitarist and drummer. He and his wife, Deemie, who is the Associate Provost at DBU, and their dog "Kuyper" live in Duncanville, Texas, a Dallas suburb.

More Posts - Website

Leave a Reply