“What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?”
Tertullian’s question is just as important today as it was some 1800 years ago, if not more so. The question seeks to find the link, the relationship, of secular learning (i.e., Athens) and Christian learning (i.e., Jerusalem). In other words, does or can Christianity inform our learning, and vice versa, can we (Christians) learn from secular sources? The problem we run into, and the frustration I experience every day when reading the news or perusing a blog, is that for those who do not follow Christ, there is no answer. Marvin Olasky wrote about this a few years back in the “Back to School” issue of WORLD magazine in an article titled “A Matter of Seeing”. I could try to summarize it for you, but I find it better to go to the source:
“…what the movie [Field of Dreams] fancifully shows is what millions of Christians (including myself) have experienced: A formerly invisible part of the world becomes visible, and that changes everything…Tertullian’s question…is still the question every Christian teacher and parent needs to grip. The fundamental difference between Christian and public schools is not that one has a chapel and one doesn’t…that one has prayer and one does not…The prime purpose of Christian education is not to instill in students a certain set of behaviors…[or to] put into our pet parrots’ head a certain amount of factual information…No, our greatest educational task is to help students see the whole population of the world, including that which secularists do not think exists. When we see that the world is spiritually as well as materially populated, every aspect of life looks different. That’s why Christianity isn’t a hobby, and why life is more than the sum of our diversions.”
As the title of Mr. Olasky’s article so succinctly puts it, it’s a matter of seeing. I become frustrated and angry when others mock my God or His Word; when there is no ground given to the possibility of God or transcendent, objective truth. Without that foundation, we will never see eye to eye. What is even more disturbing, if I’m honest with myself, is that I’ve allowed their blindness to create doubt in my own “sight”. Thankfully, I have a God that is willing to deal with my doubts and my unfaithfulness with His inexhaustible grace. There is no scolding or rolling of the divine eyes. There is simply grace and a tender, caring God who is willing to meet me where I am.
In the end, those who have made a decision to follow Christ simply see more than those who do not. Jerusalem doesn’t just inform Athens, it is the foundation upon which Athens is built. But to convince the Athenians of the existence of that foundation (the spiritual) is an exercise in futility. Unless and until God in His providence removes the scales from their eyes, they, like Saul before his conversion, simply cannot see (Acts 9:18).
I continue to be drawn back to the purpose of Heritage: to provide an academically rigorous educational experience designed to help students know, love, and practice that which is true, good, and excellent and to prepare them to live purposefully and intelligently in the service of God and man. It is a high calling that can only happen if our students have eyes to see.
Please join me in praying that God would do what only He can do; remove scales and turn Sauls into Pauls for His name and His glory at Heritage Preparatory School and beyond.
Matthew H. Skinner
P.S. You know the saying that you can eat raw oysters in months with an “r”? It’s a lie!