22 September 2003

A children's sunday school song and christian education

Theresa has a book of children's sunday school songs from which she enjoys singing while I accompany her on the guitar. There is, however, one song that Nancy and I have difficulties with, as we discovered while talking over the weekend. It's called "Oh, Be Careful," and it runs like this:

Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love.
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.

Oh, be careful little ears what you hear.
Oh, be careful little ears what you hear.
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love.
Oh, be careful little ears what you hear.

Oh, be careful little hands what you do. . . .

Oh, be careful little feet where you go. . . .

Oh, be careful little mouth what you say. . . .

Oh, be careful little mind what you think. . . .

Oh, be careful little heart what you love. . . .

The overall message of the song is, of course, well intended: we should be careful how we live our lives so as to do everything to the glory of God. We should avoid sin and, when we inevitably fall into sin, ask God's forgiveness and the Holy Spirit's help in living an obedient life in his service.

However, I can rather imagine that the verses having to do with the eyes, ears and mind might be taken in a less constructive, and indeed anti-intellectual, direction. If we take their logic seriously, then perhaps my students should not be reading, say, Marx and Engels' Manifesto of the Communist Party, since that classic statement is far from being honouring to God. Or perhaps my wife should not have the students in her Bible and Film class viewing The Last Temptation of Christ, since it springs from an unorthodox christology.

There are, of course, varieties of Christianity that would do precisely this, going so far as to prohibit Christians from coming into contact with all sorts of ideas deemed beyond the pale. But it would be difficult to carry off any form of educational enterprise on this basis. Try to imagine developing a christian university based on this song. It couldn't be done.

This is one of the reasons I have long been an enthusiast for Reformed Christianity and its educational philosophy, which undergirds what we're doing here at Redeemer University College. Cultivating a christian worldview does not mean avoiding the unpleasant, the unlikable or the unorthodox. To close oneself off from the surrounding culture is not a responsible way of living the christian life. In order to understand the huge influence of, say, Marxist ideas over the past century or so, one simply must read Marx and his followers, not set them aside for fear of personal contamination.

There is much more to be said concerning a Reformed Christian approach to education, and I will undoubtedly be returning to this theme again. At this point I will only say that perhaps we should change the words of the song to: "Be careful, curious mind, how you think."

No comments:

Followers

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
can be contacted at: dtkoyzis@gmail.com