In the previous post in this series (The Character of the Teacher) we considered the high calling of the classical Christian educator. In this post we focus on the character of the student. Many students at classical Christian schools still struggle with the sacred and secular distinctions that are so stark in government education. Despite being told that their faith informs every aspect of their learning, many students (either by their own misconceptions or poor teaching on the part of the school) feel as though serious learning and their Christian faith are entirely separate things.
B. B. Warfield saw this danger in theological students, recognizing that many of them either eschewed serious learning so they could spend time with God, or on the other spectrum eschewed time with God to focus on serious learning. For students at classical Christian schools, I imagine the latter is the more common.
Warfield, however, questioned these two approaches. He writes, “Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must turn from you books in order to turn to God?” At the heart of Warfield’s statement is the false presupposition on the part of the student that serious learning and serious faith are at odds with one another. The misconception he addresses seems as prevalent today as it was in his day. Warfield goes on to argue that such a dichotomy is false and destructive. Warfield urges, “In your case there can be no ‘either-or’ here—either a student or a man of God. You must be both.” For classical Christian students, learning must be faithful learning, and faithful learning means being both a diligent student and a man or woman of God as Warfield describes. As teachers, it is vital for us to help our students understand this both/and role of the student.
B. B. Warfield, The Religious Life of Theological Students (Philadelphia: P & R Publishing, 1983), 2.