Historically, education and theology have consistently been connected. The University of Bologna, believed to have been founded in 1088, has traditionally been considered the oldest continuously-operating university in the world.Some attribute the rapid growth of the university to its purpose of training clergy in public speaking and the fulfillment of other ecclesiasticalduties. From the onset, the university stressed the importance of law, theology, medicine, and philosophy in its assistance to the church.
When the Seventh-day Adventist Church emerged, education continued to carry theological implications, although a more modern approach to the university and learning had begun to evolve. It was during this period that higher criticism become popular in the study of Scripture. The nineteenth century saw Charles Darwin, a seminary bound student, alter his course in such a way that would eventually lead to the publication of his work on evolution.Political and philosophical ideologies emerged that challenged the basic assumptions of inspiration, the supernatural, and even morality itself. The Adventist movement was not immune to these challenges. The worlds of education and theology conflictedaroundthe role of where the knowledge of God played in education.
This was the context in which the Seventh-day Adventist Church developed a systematic and theologically grounded systemof education, as epitomized in Ellen White’s work, Education. For Adventists, there are biblical and missional implications that underlie the purpose, method, and intent of education. These necessitate a unique model that is distinctive in nature, making it a system unlike any other.
“True education means more than a pursualof a certain course of study” (Education p. 13).Rather than just an academic qualification, it must consider the entire person wholistically as well as the practical usefulness of that person in the present and future. In this “harmonious development” of the individual, the spiritual, mental, and physical attributes cannot be compartmentalized into equal parts., but the student must find God infused in every aspect of the total person.
The model of education gifted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church by the writings of Ellen G. White will be the focus of this study. It will be divided into fivesections where the first section deals with the importance of God in the life of the student with the first three lessons addressing the biblical and practical reasons why this is critical—without Him, education cannot be possible.
Section two will address the two foundational principles that education stands on: excellence and unselfishness. Section three will address the unique aspects of education in Adventism by looking at how this unique system of education parallels the unique message of the everlasting gospel in the book of Revelation. The relationship between education and character, faith, and the Sabbath are systematic elements that are unique to an Adventist approach to learning.
The fourthsection of this study will look at three case studies: the biblical sanctuary, the school of the prophets, and the lives of men and women used by God to accomplish great things for their nations.Finally, the study will conclude with God’s ultimate purpose foreducation, which is the establishment of a new kingdom.
As you study these lessons, approach the topic of education as an ambassador of a different world tasked with the responsibility of infiltrating enemy lines. Consider God’s system of education as your training to successfully accomplish this task. Be open to the possibility that a total transformation to the way you think will be necessary. Do not forget that the war you are engaged in is actually a real controversy between God and Satan. Finally, take courage in the assurance that the war hasbeen won and by God’s grace, He will use you to reach heights that are “higher than the highest human thought can reach” (Education, p. 19).