1Chron. 27:32 Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a man of understanding, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons.
Ref. Smith, James K. A., "Desiring the Kingdom", (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009)
There came a point, many years ago, when I first dimly perceived that people aren't determined, first and foremost, by the ideas they hold to be true. This was a shocking, and somewhat dismaying, realization on my part. I grew up naive and idealistic beyond the norm and one of the things that I sincerely held, was that truth was sovereignly powerful to shape people's lives. I, rightly or wrongly, held this to be true about myself and therefore, of course, it must hold for every one. I thought: if you just teach kids, teenagers, adults, whatever, the truth, then their lives will conform to that truth.
Then reality set in.
I don't know how old I was when I first encountered the response: "That may be true but I don't believe it!" Now here is the paradox - how can someone accept the fact that something may be true and not undertake to discover whether it is or not? Take an extreme example. Someone says, "The building is on fire!" - who would be content to say "That may be true but I don't believe it!" and leave it there? If something may be true, and the ramifications of that truth are important, what kind of person would simply "gaff" it off and go on in ignorance of its truth value or not?
Apparently a great number fall into this category.
It was at this point that I began to rethink all I had ever taken for granted about education and, most importantly, evangelism.
I began to see that the relationship between the heart and the head is NOT such that the head determines what the heart will love! There is a much more complex relationship in play. If a person simply does not want something to be true then, in many cases, they will not embrace it as such even if by many and varied demonstrations its truthfulness is logically undeniable.
Furthermore there is no absolute linkage between what a person holds to be true intellectually and the conduct of their lives. I saw this in myself and I saw it in others. Truth is compelling only when the "love of truth" is the prior passion.
Smith's book, referenced above, is addressed to this same conundrum. He calls us to rethink the whole idea of "Christian Education" as a move away from being preoccupied with a "Christian World View" with its various tenets and propositional statements. Not that those things must be abandoned, far from it, but only that communicating those tenets is not the first object. What Smith proposes is that we shift our perspective and see that "education" is far more comprehensive than class room activities and its goal is first and foremost, "character formation" not "skill" or "intellectual knowledge" transfer. Smith calls us to look at where and how "education" in our culture mostly happens. He points to our malls, our media, our cultural pressures. He calls us to open our eyes, "Matrix" style, and see that these things do not come "at us" intellectually.... they do not shape us by saying "here's an idea, evaluate it logically and see that it is true!" No, there is a "liturgy" to the beating drums of culture around us. These forces funnel our thoughts, our pathways, our choices in given directions by a nearly subliminal appeal. Smith's perspective helps us see that we are immersed in the religion of Babylon and that worship of Baal takes many forms and the love of Mammon is cultivated more by giving us things to love than things to believe.
Smith is calling us back to an ancient understanding. The Bible and the ancient Classical writers were agreed on this one approach. "Tutoring" (paideusis) is first and foremost about "civilizing" the soul, fitting a person with the appropriate inclinations, desires, values, and motivations, such that he or she will be equipped to live, love and act virtuously. Of course the Bible and the Classical thinkers differ substantially in what it means to be a 'citizen' and even what 'city' a person is to inhabit. But the central point is that education is far more than just being taught the facts and propositional truths. It is rather aimed at shaping the person's heart to love those things.
It was well understood that this shaping process is almost entirely relational. Jesus taught His disciples to love the Kingdom He was bringing, by walking with them, showing them the Kingdom, opening their eyes by inspiring their hearts. They had to "look and see" that it was good and often times, the understanding of truth, propositionally, followed, not preceeded, this "seeing." The power of the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit was experienced, the sweetness of Christian fellowship was tasted, the desire to "know" was cultivated, through a warm, personal, living relationship that was mutually important. This is education in its broadest form.
Our ideas of "education" have departed from this to a large extent. The scientist in his or her white coat has somehow influenced us to think of education as "clinical", the detached observation, deduction and summarizing conclusion methodology that makes "truth" an object. "Truth" is a Person, I have come to understand a bit more clearly, and so are those who are seeking "truth." Communication of truth has to be experienced as well as intellectually grasped, or it is not communicated at all.