A CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
By John E. Russell
The word METAPHYSICS is taken from Aristotle's works, "after the PHYSICS." His PHYSICS dealt with the area of the scientific and his METAPHYSICS dealt with basic assumptions, first principles, and the religious, including cosmology and ontology.
Cosmology deals with the origin and structure of the universe. Science can understand the nature of the universe to a limited extent. However, science does not understand the nature of the universe well enough to demonstrate scientifically how the universe came into being--it is out of the realm of science.
As Christians, we believe that the world was created by God and it is sustained by God: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1). (Also see Hebrews 1:2-3). The universe is devolving. The only principle of "evolution" in effect today is the work of God in redeemed man. Later, God will make a new heaven and earth:
Ontology is that branch of philosophy that seeks to explain the nature of being or reality. Is what we experience through our senses all there is? Is it reality? Yes, but God is Ultimate Reality--His creation is reality. God alone is eternally self-existent, whereas His creation is finite. His creation is dependent on Him. We are not PANTHEISTS (From Greek, PAN = "all" + THEOS = "God," hence, "All is God" or "God is All"), but rather we are PANENTHEISTS: (From Greek, PAN = "all" + EN = "in" + THEOS = "God," hence, we are "all in God." "For in him [God] we live and move and have our being...." (Acts 17:28).
From metaphysics, we logically move to epistemology.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that seeks to define truth and discover the nature of knowledge.
Absolute truth exists only in the mind of God. Jesus is Truth personified, the greatest revelation of truth from God to human beings: "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6). "In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1). "In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe." (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Absolute truth is communicated to us in abstract form from the Bible. As we read it, the Holy Spirit illuminates the Bible, which is the objective revelation of the Word of God.
Human beings discover relative truth through their experience, or interaction with creation. Refined human experience we call scientific method, which produces relative truth or knowledge, the results of which are always tentative and subject to revision.
Logically, we proceed to the next branch of philosophy which is axiology.
Axiology deals with the nature and types of values. We will deal with two kinds of values: (1) Ethics and (2) Aesthetics.
Ethics is the study of moral good and evil. Natural evil, such as earthquakes, accidents and tornados are excluded unless it is demonstrated that a free moral agent caused the evils.
The only valid source of ethics is God Himself, as transmitted to us through His Son Jesus and the written Word. Human experience is invalid as an ethical standard.
Aesthetics deals with the nature of beauty. The standard for the beautiful is found in the mind of God. It was reflected in His pristine (original) creation--before the fall of man. Spiritually, holiness is beautiful--the good and the beautiful belong together. Rationally, that which is logical is beautiful, but since man's reason is fallen, his mind cannot be the standard--it must be renewed by the Word of God for both content and logical form. Physically, that which is symmetrical and flawless is beautiful.
From the study of values, we then seek to discover whether or not there
is any purpose or end to which history is moving.
Teleology is the study of final causes. The Christian dismisses the ideas that the universe is simply a machine, or that human beings generate purpose in life. God has a purpose in history--it is "His story." Through Jesus, His Son, He is reconciling mankind to Himself, and redeeming His creation:
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Copyright © 1994-1995 by John E. Russell,
Internet Version Copyright © 1998 by John E. Russell