Growing concern for the direction of Adventist education.
by Norbert Restrepo
During this year’s Annual Council, Elder Ted Wilson announced that the Seventh-day Adventist Church will hold “an unprecedented three-day summit on Adventist education” next year. “Among all the positive blessings from the Seventh-day Adventist school system, we also see signs that a return to some of the basics of the original educational model is needed.”1
Adventists aren’t the only ones concerned with the state of Christian education. Frank Gaebelein, a 20th- century American evangelical educator, described the curriculum of many Christian schools as being “a patchwork of naturalistic ideas mixed with Biblical truth.”2 Francis Schaeffer, an influential Christian thinker, deplored the fact that “liberal theology, which really is humanism expressed in theological terms,” had influenced Christianity into accepting a humanistic worldview. Thus the truths of Creation, Christ’s miracles, Christ’s second coming, and so on, are questioned.3
Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, Director of Education at the General Conference, stated her concern about having teachers of no faith, because they can’t achieve the redemptive purpose of Adventist education. “The single most important thing that we need in our schools is committed, converted Seventh-day Adventist teachers.”4 At the Annual Council she illustrated this concern with the picture of the Trojan horse.
God has provided His people with a blueprint for educational success in our schools. As we at Hartland College seek to follow this pattern, it would be well for us to consider Madison College, which became the model of well-balanced education. This missionary school combined manual and intellectual training with special emphasis on agriculture.
“The class of education given at the Madison school is such as will be accounted a treasure of great value by those who take up missionary work in foreign fields. If many more in other schools were receiving a similar training,…the message would be quickly carried to every country, and souls now in darkness would be brought to the light.”5
1 http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/ story3366-unprecedented-summit-to-address- challenges-of-adventist-education
2 Gaebelein, Frank, “Toward a Philosophy of Christian Education,” in An Introduction to Evangelical Christian Education, J. Edward Hakes, ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1964), p. 41.
3 Schaeffer, Francis, A Christian Manifesto, 1982, p. 21, 23.
5 White, Ellen G., Pamphlet 119, “An appeal for the Madison school,” 1908, p. 2.