Sunday, August 16, 2009

Educating the Broken Image

Since the fall, humans have been enslaved by sin. Whatever we do, or think, or feel, is broken and marred by sin. John Calvin called such state as total depravity. However, this totally depraved being is not as evil as can be. The beautiful image of God is broken and has been broken since Adam and Eve decided to disobey God’s command. This important truth of human sinfulness has been denied and rejected by human sinful nature for a long long time. This denial finally reached a point where humans feel necessary to get rid of God instead of accepting the truth of sin. The ultimate rejection of this truth happened when people decided to murder Jesus of Nazareth two thousand years ago. The murder of Jesus is in fact the ultimate expression of human sinful nature in dealing with the holy God.

From time to time, we have rejected the source of our being. We even teach our children that God does not exist, or that God does not really exist. Or, if he does exist, he does not care about us. When the world cannot accept the fact that humans are sinful, then the world creates an alternate story of our existence apart from God. There are many stories that appeal to human sinfulness. One of them is the evolutionism. People quickly embrace evolutionism and reject that there is a God that created the world. This only shows how deep we are lost. The image of God rejects the God who is the true original pattern of our being. If we look around us today, we will find that many of us have truly become ignorant of our origin. Either we embrace the wrong information, or we simply ignore the right information, or we just don’t care where we came from. Why don’t we learn from our everyday life, that when we don’t know who our parents are, what our true race is, of what heritage do we belong, our identity cannot be whole? Don’t we all know that when our identity is partial, we cannot settle? Being unclear of our identity is one of the greatest disequilibrium any being can face.

No wonder our world as we know it today is full of hatred, war, injustice, destruction, and evil. Knowing who we truly are is extremely important for the step toward re-equilibrium. Calvin argued that the basis of our knowledge of everything is the knowledge of God and self. We cannot know self without knowing God and we cannot know God without knowing self. And how can we know self if we continue denying our sinfulness? How can we know at all if we continue denying that God exists or that humans are created after God’s image? Therefore, in our broken world, it is necessary for us to teach our children about our brokenness. I believe that is why the Scripture, the secret of heaven, starts from the origin of the universe and of humanity. Genesis 1-3 speaks clearly how humans were created and how we fell. The starting point is clear, and such clarity explains the basic foundation of how we get into this mess in the world.

When humans create our own stories and then decide to ignore the true story told by the trustworthy God himself, we are completely lost. In this world, we have many competing stories. The task of Christianity is to tell the true story, the grand story told by God himself. Christians don’t make up stories. We receive the story from the God of heaven and earth. But humans are prone to believe their own stories instead of believing the true story. Why? – Because the true story is painful to swallow. It is extremely hard to admit that we are sinful creatures and that together with our ancestors we have rebelled against the holy God. It is easier to admit that we came into being from billions of years of evolution from the simplest being – one cell being – then we become more complex and then we evolve into homo sapiens, the most complex and most advanced being on earth. It is easier to admit that we have a strong family relation with chimpanzee or orangutan. It is way more difficult to acknowledge that we have a very close family relation with God himself. We quickly identify ourselves with all the other creatures of this world rather than identifying ourselves with the great God of heaven and earth. And when we admit that we are divine, we don’t want God to stand above us, we want God to be gone, and we want to be that God. That’s how confused we are as humans. No wonder St. Augustine pointed out that since the fall we are non posse non picarre – unable not to sin. Calvin’s theology is proven true that humans are totally depraved. We live under slavery and we refuse to be freed from it, because being freed from it requires admitting our wretchedness.

The world hails education as the solution of the problems of the world. Deep down we believe that through education humans will become wise. We hope that when we are wise we will be able to fix all the problems we have. Yet, after thousands of years of progressive education, we don’t yet see any solution to any of our problems. We might have created advanced technologies to upgrade our lifestyle, but yet our world is always devoid of true justice and love. We use advanced psychology to find true happiness, but we find only despair and brokenness. We philosophize aggressively, but we are more confused than ever. We have gone through many scientific breakthroughs, but more weapon of mass destruction is being manufactured. We understand more about our body and the secret of DNA, but we have become more worried with the spread of AIDS, Bird Flu, Ebola, etc. We have become smarter in understanding our role, responsibility, and rights as citizens of the world, but yet we abort the so called “unwanted babies” and call them fetus. Does education bring us closer to our dignity? Or, does education fail to deliver its very noble purpose? Ah yes, humans have fooled themselves. We call ourselves blessed without God’s true blessings. We call ourselves wise without God’s true wisdom. We call ourselves living without being connected to the true source of life, God.

Education will fail and continue to fail uncontrollably. As long as we continue on telling the false story of our origin our seemingly beautiful concept of education will fall. Humans must realize the true story. Humans must know that we are created in the dignity of the divine. Humans must also know that our sensus divinitatis has been broken into pieces since the fall of the first man and woman. Only and only then we can grasp why we need Jesus Christ. Only and only then after we embrace Christ we can know our purpose of life. Only and only then that in Christ we can live truly as true humans. Educating the broken image is not an easy task, especially if the broken image continues to deny their brokenness. But this education must proceed. Therefore, the business of Christian education is to educate the broken image to know who they are. That is why our Scripture starts with our origin. The true story of our origin is the bedrock of all our knowledge. Without it we are lost. And we will continue to be lost until we admit and embrace the true story of our origin as told in the Bible.

*The Business of Christian Education IX

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