Through the centuries, schools were started by Christians to teach the Bible, America included.
…the Bible was the reason public schools were founded in the first place. One of the earliest education laws in our country was passed in 1647 (called the “Old Satan Deluder Act”). To combat the religious ignorance of and persecution by their tormentors in Europe, the founders of America wished to counter the biblical illiteracy of the populace.
The Bible Was America’s First Textbook
Yesterday, we began looking in, “Person of Interest,” at the topic of Jesus being the Great Igniter of Education. We found on page 157,
IGNITER #1- Christ Followers Celebrated the Life of the Mind
IGNITER #2- Christ Followers Collected and Protected Knowledge
IGNITER #3- Christ Followers Were Called to Make Disciples
Today, we will look at Igniters 4-6 from pages 158-160.
IGNITER #4- Christ Followers Embraced a “Teaching” Culture. Jesus prepared his students and sent them to share the truth with others and even used teaching imagery in his illustrations and sermons: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Paul later affirmed the duty to educate the community of saints: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). So important was education to the second- and third-century Christians that new believers were “catechized” and educated for lengthy periods of time prior to their baptism. This training period was tailored to each baptismal candidate and could last from weeks to years.
IGNITER #5- Christ Followers Embraced Their Responsibility to Learn the Truth. Early Christians understood their personal responsibility as students. They were individually transformed by learning the truth and by using their minds to continually evaluate the will of God as it was described in the Book: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLV).
IGNITER #6- Christ Followers Educated the World to Share the Gospel. Jesus followers took seriously the command to “go therefore and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). They branched out into the world and immediately encountered a significant obstacle: Discipleship was dependent on the Book, but not every new people group could read. Some groups didn’t even possess an alphabet of their own. This didn’t stop Christian missionaries. Ulfilas (c.311-c.383 CE), for example, was born into captivity in a region that the Goths controlled (now known as Ukraine, Modova, and Romania), but he eventually became a Christian bishop and missionary to the region. He evangelized the Goths and invented an alphabet that would allow him to translate the Bible into the Gothic language. This invention made it possible for Goths to read, a foundational skill that laid the groundwork for higher education in the region.
Saint Syril did the same thing for the Slavic people in Eastern Europe in the ninth century. More than two hundred million people, representing more than one hundred languages spoken around the world, still use Cyril’s alphabet. The invention of an alphabet such as this (for the purpose of translating the Bible) opened the doors for education on a global level.
Christians are still translating the Book and creating alphabets, even today. According to the Wycliff Global Alliance, at least part of the Bible has been translated into 3,415 languages (representing 7 billion people), the complete bible has been translated into 704 languages (representing 5.7 billion people), and the New Testament has been translated into 1,551 languages (representing 815 million people). Jesus followers are largely responsible for advancing literacy across the globe.
Jesus said to a group of resistant leaders,
39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40
Doesn’t it make sense for us to diligently study the Scriptures, too? The more we know about Jesus and His mission, the more inspired we will be to further His Gospel, even if it’s just across the street–or in our own house!
Abba, set us on fire to spread the Good News of Jesus with everyone You bring our way. May we look for opportunities to share the Gospel. But, before we go, please prompt us to study Your Word so that we know what we are sharing and how to share it. Love is the key, Lord. May Your love overflow from our hearts to all around us. Amen.