Classical Education and Christian Worldview

Both classical education and a Christian worldview are based on the search for truth.

I am often asked whether Scriptorium courses are taught from a Christian worldview or, put another way, how Scriptorium courses deal with questions of religious belief.

Before giving an answer, as the ancient Roman philosopher Cicero would say, it is important to define the key terms of the question. In this case: what is meant by the phrase, “teaching from a Christian worldview”?

At its most basic, a worldview is the way a person views the world.

Scriptorium defines “teaching from a Christian worldview” as “holding up all aspects of a subject to the truth”—and affirms that the fullest expression of truth is found in the Word of God. In this sense, yes, all Scriptorium courses are taught from a Christian worldview because all Scriptorium courses focus on examining the truth about each subject. In other words, Scriptorium believes in teaching “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” because our goal is to understand what is true.

On the other hand, many Christians define “Christian worldview” as “looking only at morally good subjects” because their goal is to uphold moral purity. This is an extremely laudable goal, and Scriptorium supports families’ efforts to protect the minds and hearts of their own children.

However, Scriptorium’s main goal is to provide an education focused on understanding the truth—and this provides an excellent education for all students. Scriptorium believes that understanding the truth about all aspects of an issue respects the seriousness of that issue and develops an appreciation for the goodness of good ideas as well as an appropriate concern about the badness of bad ideas. The truth is often unpleasant, and it frequently clashes with popular beliefs. But to develop an accurate understanding of the world, we must seek to understand the truth about the subjects we study—regardless of its pleasantness or popularity.

Here are some example outworkings of Scriptorium’s emphasis on truth:

  • HISTORY: When studying the exploration of the Americas in history, we examine the positive and negative aspects of the Aztec and Spanish societies and their interactions. This includes observations on the deep complexity of Aztec society and art as well as the Aztecs’ reprehensible practice of human sacrifice. These observations give context to observations on the development of early human rights law by Spanish Roman Catholic theologians coming in contact with the Aztecs as well as the severe persecutions against non-Roman Catholics carried out by the Spanish empire, which was repeatedly threatened by various non-Roman Catholic enemies in this era.
  • LITERATURE: When studying ancient literature, we examine Greek dramatists’ respect for their gods as well as the reasons the Greeks were dissatisfied with their gods. These observations give context for the Christian understanding of God developing in literature at the close of the Roman empire.
  • PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND ECONOMICS: When studying political philosophy, we examine philosophers’ ideas about human nature and discuss whether those ideas about human nature are true or false. Those discussions give context to our understanding of how each political philosopher developed a theory of government that would either promote or restrict individual liberty.
  • FINE ARTS: When studying art, we examine how a variety of artists throughout history and across the globe have portrayed the human figure, human relationships, historical events, landscapes, architecture, and everyday objects. These works of art demonstrate what past cultures have valued as important and as beautiful. They give context to our understanding of what is important and beautiful today.

Image: Interior of Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary