Understanding the Kingdom of God and its relationship to the church are vitally and strategically important, especially at this time. Many problems, struggles, and divisions have stemmed from either an incorrect view or a misunderstanding or misapplication of the topic. Not only are mainline Protestant churches losing ground, so are the more evangelical churches. This is at a time when a religion like Islam is growing, not only globally but in North America as well.
According to George Barna, George Gallup Jr., and Michael Lindsay, there are more than 200 religions and denominations in America at the present time, definitely a religiously pluralistic context. This pluralism has added to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the church and kingdom of God. As a result, Christianity’s influence is being marginalized and neutralized. In our pluralistic culture Christianity is fast becoming simply one religion among many. While chartered (religious) pluralism was built into the founding principles of the United States, Christianity was the predominate influence in those early days. However, in the past 150 years we have seen steady decline in Christianity’s influence. Today, there are those groups and individuals who challenge using the name of God in the public square and insist that religion is a private matter. A most recent case has arisen against a group of adults for giving thanks at a school dinner.
The entire church and state separation issue is premised on the basis that we must embrace a secular view of politics that leaves God out of the picture, otherwise, there is division rather than unity. We have seen those attempting to rewrite American history in an attempt to challenge the role of God, the Bible, and Christianity, claiming that America did not begin with a distinctively Christian influence, but if, so what? Several years ago the late Arthur Schlesinger of Yale University, a philosophically liberal historian, wrote The Disuniting of America. I was appreciative for his honesty regarding those attempting to deconstruct and re-write history, ntentionally, leaving out some of the basic foundational ideologies. Some of this has happened because of a dualistic misunderstanding or equating what we called church and state separation with religion and state separation. Much of this has grown from a failure to understand the kingdom of God and the church, their unity and diversity.
Consider a different paradigm relating to Christian education. As you do, I would encourage you to evaluate its merit from a philosophical/theological perspective and not simply a school model at all different levels of the learning process.
While some of us have concluded that a failure to understand the Kingdom of God world and life view perspective has short-changed Christianity by focusing on pieces or parts rather than the whole, many have also failed to see the connection of education with the Kingdom of God. In a similar fashion, as liberal secularism has done with religion and politics, i.e. separating the two and ultimately keeping the religious aspect quiet or merely assigning it to one’s private life which only trivializes religion, so have we done the same with education and the kingdom. This tends to leave God out of the education paradigm or at least place him on the periphery of the process.
We have to realize that education in general has a broad definition which would include the entire learning process: content and context. It also has a specialized definition which deals with the many different subjects, as well as teaching and learning techniques involved. Also, in the somewhat limited scope from a Christian perspective, it refers to the process of learning, teaching, and understanding biblical data, which of course is a legitimately necessary part of the process. However, in the broader or more general sense Christian education also has to incorporate the whole of God’s truth, including that which is not specifically revealed in the Bible. It also has reference to the more formal teaching and learning process while incorporating the less formal or less structured that comes from day-to-day life and relationships in general. Education in its content and implementation includes both aspects.