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Essay on Can Education be Classical and Christian?

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Can an education be both classical and Christian? Many parents ask this question every year, unknowingly echoing an age-old question. Tertullian, an early church father, was perhaps the first to consider whether these two ideas are compatible when he asked, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” The church fathers continued to wrestle with the question for centuries, most concluding that all ideas that are taken captive for Christ may be used profitably by Christians. Examining this ongoing conversation about classical, Christian education will serve to answer many of our own questions today. Then, we will be able to consider that our understanding of classical, Christian education today depends more on the medieval church schools than it does on the schools of the Greeks and Romans.
Alexandria, Egypt served as a center of learning in the centuries following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. Alexandria’s famous library attracted many scholars, so it was a natural location for some of the church’s early catechetical schools. Philo , a Greek Jew living in Alexandria, had already written many works demonstrating the unity of Greek philosophy and Judaism (The Great Tradition, 154). Clement of Alexandria (c. AD 150-215) continued the conversation by demonstrating that the study of Greek philosophy was profitable for Christians. He describes philosophy as a “preparatory science for Christianity” which leads a person to contemplate wisdom and prepares his heart for the coming of Christ (169 ). Clement also concluded that philosophy prepares the mind to be precise in reasoning out issues of faith and thus prevents the Christian from being deceived by false teaching. Clement also elevated rational...


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...efend their faith. In Challenge I – IV, training in theology becomes more rigorous as students refine their Biblical worldview by comparing Scripture to philosophy. Logic trains students to think clearly about contemporary issues and to form persuasive arguments about virtuous, Biblical choices and actions. In a medieval school, teachers and students regarded theology as the mistress science which governed all of the branches of knowledge. In Classical Conversations, we seek to recover that understanding of theology as we train students to seek God in chemistry, history, philosophy, and the fine arts. Older students will study logic to form careful arguments grounded in a Biblical worldview and rhetoric to deliver those persuasive arguments. The result of all these labors will be a deeper understanding of God’s attributes and will result in echoes of praise.



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