Saturday, September 12, 2009

... with regard to Classical Education

Our Bible verse for the week has been from Psalm 111:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever!

It was chosen because we are currently meditating on the commandments and their meanings, and talking about the purpose of the Law and how the sanctified life is wrought by God.

I noticed today the context of the verse. The whole psalm talks about God's covenant, God's promises, God's righteousness, God's gifts. The wisdom and understanding in this verse is to know Him, to be united to Him, to trust in Him to provide what we cannot do and to make us into what He wants us to be.

Some who promote classical education use this verse and others like it to promote academic wisdom and scholarly understanding. It makes me mad! We can certainly value academics and education and the achievements of the world without demeaning God's wisdom in Christ and the "knowledge" of faith & trust. Not only that, when I see these kinds of misapplications of God's word, I wonder what else the classical-ed adherents might be misstating.


  1. Nathan Fischer9/12/2009 7:50 PM

    My 'all-time' favorite book, Discerning the Mystery by Andrew Louth, has this amazing first chapter called, "The Dissociation of Sensibility." In it, he describes the way in which, as a society, we have separated our ways of knowing into distinct categories, such as "logical" and "emotional". You know some things by the mind, some by the heart. He also talked about how this has manifested itself in our theology in somewhat more insidious ways - that we can talk theology in a classroom, and that theology can be something different, even distinct, from prayer. I suppose we might think of it in terms of a separation of "spirituality" from theology (though he speaks about it in a totally different way than we usually talk about such things).

    That verse sounds a lot like what Louth is referring to. A good understanding comes from... studying? reading? logic? No... It is in *activity* that we have understanding. I'm thinking here especially of the liturgy, prayer, the eucharist, baptism, etc. Those covenental things in which our Lord comes to us, draws us into Himself, and through which we respond in love.

    And this gets used to support classical education? Oh man. I'm pretty sure this verse is the furthest from a classroom kind of understanding that anyone could possibly find. Then again, we use 1 Peter 3:21 to defend rational, logical enterprise of Christian Apologetics. So why not?

    All hail the almighty theme, around which all twists and bends and is put into submission, even the Word itself.

    Sorry for the snarkiness. I think I'm in a mood. :-) But in all seriousness, I really liked your post...

  2. Nathan Fischer9/12/2009 11:18 PM

    EDIT: And by 1 Peter 3:21, I mean 3:15. Woops. Too used to the baptismal verse - my fingers can hardly type 1 Peter 3 without putting the 21 after it...