Beginning with a Solid Foundation

John Telgren


I read an interesting article a few years ago making the case for what many call "classical" education.  Of course, I had no idea what a classical education was.  In fact, the very description made it seem like something that was very old.  Indeed, it is very old.  It was the dominant method of education until the last century.


The article pointed out that many people have preferred a progressive education because it is more practical and immediately applicable.  Classical education seems out of touch with daily life.  Why learn Latin?  Why learn philosophy?  Why study ancient literary works?  Why spend time on ancient history?  For many, these seem like a waste of time.  However, it is not the subject matter but the tools of learning that distinguish a classical education.  As I understand it, classical education involves mastering the intellectual tools to learn how to think and become a life long learner.  It begins at the elementary level with a focus on learning grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  Primary and secondary education is designed to provide the foundations for learning. 


As a result, most students seem to do better in the long run.  They are more innovative.  They can think critically and readily detect truths and fallacies.  They may not have had a lot of the practical hands on experiences in their early education, but they seem to pick it up much faster and with greater understanding and clarity.  They typically excel beyond those with a progressive education. 


This seems to make sense.  After all, you begin with a good foundation.  If you have a good foundation, then you are prepared to build on it what is solid, stable, and dependable. 


The same can be said for our Christian faith.  While it is tempting to move straight to the hands on and the practical, there must be a solid foundation upon which to build our faith.  Paul uses a building analogy in 1 Corinthians chapter three.  He states the importance of the one and only foundation, Jesus Christ.  He also states the importance of quality building material as a master workman.  Theory comes before practice.  Information comes before performance. 


If there is not a strong, solid foundation upon which to build our faith it will not stand.  If there are not quality building materials, then it will not stand.  It will be worse that when the big bad wolf come to blow the house of our faith in.


The source of a good foundation and quality materials comes from going deep into the central teachings of the Christian faith.  Some people call this theological training.  Others call it learning to think biblically about life.  Whatever we call it, we need to understand that moving past doctrine in favor of practice will weaken practice.  The solution to an immature, faltering faith in Hebrews 5:10f was not merely practical exhortations, but a deep exposition on the doctrine of Christ, which forms the centerpiece of the book of Hebrews.


So the challenges is to move beyond the elementary teachings of the Christian faith and go deep.  The intellectual, emotional and spiritual maturity that will comes as a result will enable you to readily navigate through any challenge with fortitude, integrity, and faithfulness.