Friday, January 8, 2010

Preparing Students for Secular Colleges and Universities

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility--young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
--Daniel 1:3-4

One of the myths about Christian education that we dealt with in an earlier post was that Christian schools are appropriate for preparing students for Bible colleges but not secular colleges and universities.

As we indicated in our response to that myth, this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially in the case of institutions like Christian School of York that have a rigorous college preparatory program and are accredited by both Christian and secular organizations.

There is also a deep scriptural foundation for the idea that it is good for those who have had an intensive religious education to go on to be educated in the learning of a secular society in which they are, if you will, “in the culture but not of the culture.”

Furthermore, there is demonstration in scripture that the background of religious education can serve believers well when they undertake secular learning. The story of Daniel and his friends is a salient example. Their strong grounding in Jewish teachings put them in a position in which they drew the attention of the King Nebuchadnezzar’s court, which selected them to be educated in “the language and literature of the Babylonians.”

Daniel and his companions eventually attained high positions, and in the early stages of their relationship with the king’s court the fact that they stood their ground on the issue of observing Jewish law became a source of admiration. And although their steadfastness ultimately led to persecution, the persecution became an opportunity for them to minister to the Babylonians about the power of the God of Israel.

The Daniel story is an excellent model for how a quality Christian education in our time can leave the student well prepared to succeed in secular universities and professions, while also preparing them to minister to nonbelievers by standing out as examples of diligence in work, faithfulness to moral principles, and obedience to God’s commands.

As in the case of Daniel and his friends, the experience of the Christian school graduate moving on to secular higher education and work comes with both privileges and responsibilities. But those responsibilities are what make the experience so enriching to one’s walk with Christ.

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