I am sorry to say that I had not read any book by Frank Gaebelein until I recently picked up a copy of Exploring the Bible off of a friend’s library shelf. Reading this work reminded me of the value of the Christian classics just as we see the value of other classics in literature.
Gaebelein’s ideas on Christian education are significant and timeless. Based on an independent school model with a powerful faith component, he argues that the Bible can be a “unifying principle” in education. That sounds very much like our current terminology of integrating faith throughout our curriculum. And he believes that the effects of this would be eternal:
In its liberty to work out its own educational philosophy the independent school has a strategic opportunity to recover the bible as the unifying principle of modern education. Not all independent schools will choose to use their liberty for this purpose. But if only a few will make the choice whole-heartedly, influences of immeasurable value will enter our national life.
He also encourages taking the importance of integrating scripture throughout education seriously. Written in the preface of the 1950 edition, his warning rings true in the 21st century:
One thing is certain. In this day of intense and total political loyalties, the merely nominal in religious education is not enough. Only a school program and administration and faculty wholly committed to the preeminence of Christ through an educational philosophy centered in the Bible will suffice. Half-heartedness in Christian education is little more than playing at eternal things. And, like all trifling with that which is holy, it damages the soul.
Finally, in the preface of the initial edition written in the 1920s, he sounds as much like a prophet as he does an educator:
The chief sin of American education is a sin of omission. While our schools and colleges have room for all manner of studies, from Latin to athletic coaching, among all of these there seems to be no place for one study of supreme importance. The Bible is practically excluded from our national education.
The great thinkers in Christian schooling are worth revisiting. I would love to know how Gaebelien and other “Classic” authors have influenced some of you!
Paul T. Neal (paul.neal@cace.) is Sr. Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment at Cairn University and co-founder of Charter Oak Research where he serves as Principal and Chief Research Officer. Charter Oak Research is a marketing research and consulting firm focused on resourcing and supporting Christian schools and colleges, other Christian ministries and for profit organizations. Charter Oak brings marketing research to bear on the strategy and tactics of enrollment and advancement needs of clients to improve brand awareness, perception and sustainability. Paul has presented and been published on: the use of normative data in analysis, respondent motives, trends in education and online communities and respondent quality. Prior to founding Charter Oak Research, Paul was a Principal at Olson Research Group for 15 years as well as serving as the Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University responsible for qualitative research on political culture and U.S. Public Policy. Paul has served as an adjunct faculty member at several Philadelphia area universities. Paul is a graduate of Eastern (B.A.) and Villanova (M.A.) Universities and attended Temple University for further graduate study.