A Biblical and Theological Framework For and Understanding Of Faith and Public Education

(Within the Context of Christian Community Development Philosophy)

CCDA believes that all children, regardless of race, nationality, economic status, gender or citizenship, deserve access and opportunity for quality, public education that enables fullness of life. (Approved by the CCDA Board, June, 2011)

and do not hinder them. “Be fruitful and increase in number. fill the earth and subdue it. “Let us make mankind in our image. and revealed them to little children.13-14) Even anarchists recognize the Imago Dei in children. guide us. he was indignant. (Matthew 11. author) Nelson Mandela sums summarizes our challenge and opportunity . . When Jesus saw this. ." (Emma Goldman. woman. but the disciples rebuked them. over the livestock and all the wild animals. (Matthew 18.” So God created mankind in his own image. ” (Genesis 1.25 NIV) And he said: “Truly I tell you. God blessed them and said to them. and lay a firm foundation for our efforts with children and our role in public education? . .3) People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. in our likeness. Gospel song writers Bill & Gloria Gaither wrote these words trying to define the potential of children: I am a promise I am a possibility I am a promise with a capital “P” I am a great big bundle of potentiality Jesus affirmed the Imago Dei in children. Children are created in the very image of God and regardless of race. children – all children – are the very definition of potential. “Let the little children come to me. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned. economic status. male and female he created them. Then God said. “I praise you. At that time Jesus said. you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. shape us. gender or citizenship.In the beginning . (Mark 10. unless you change and become like little children. Father. Lord of heaven and earth. and over all the creatures that move along the ground. so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky. for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. In fact. and child. have God given potential. He said to them. "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.26-28) Affirming the Imago Dei is to affirm the God given potential of every man. kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. inform us." How then does the Gospel. nationality. the Good News. in the image of God he created them. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure. . "No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy.

Further. and would ensure a just education for all. especially the most vulnerable. the word “gospel” or the “good news” would have had a rather different meaning than the way contemporary Christians use the word. As displayed in Genesis.who together submit to his loving and just rule.T. resulting in an ingathering of the nations. among the pagan culture of the time. just rule of God. of whom Abraham is patriarch. Through the life. we can be motivated to actively embody that life of the future now. This redemption will come through God’s people Israel.” Christians.Chris Jehle. we as his people also seek the redemption of his creation. simply put. All who do so. and resurrection of Jesus. God is reconciling his entire creation to himself. In that day. teaching. we may think of the word “gospel” as a particular Christian message for individuals to go to heaven after death or even as referring to a style of music in the church. out of Israel was born Jesus the Christ. just rule of God by embodying the life of the age to come in the present. all peoples are invited to join the People of God . God sees his creation as extraordinarily good. DC writes: During the time of Jesus and later Paul. Dallas Willard describes this as “training for reigning. Steve Parks. In the meantime. We desire to be transformed into the people of God who possess and embody the character God desires humanity to utilize when governing his good creation. Chair of the CCDA Theology Committee and CEO of The Hope Center in Kansas City. MO writes: The gospel. Today. It is this picture of the future that brings the teachings regarding a just society for the poor and oppressed to bear on our present life. is the restoration of life in God’s good creation to his original intent. and will fully flourish as God originally intended. embody the resurrected life in the here and now. Israel’s covenanted relationship with God and each other was to be marked by fidelity. Life in the coming age will be intimate and robust. as they faithfully await the promised return of their God and King. While evil still wreaks havoc throughout the creation. And God’s wonderfully good creation will finally be fully freed from sin and death. We do so because it is the life we will live in the age to come. the poor and oppressed are given all that they need so that they too can live flourishing lives. have been soundly defeated through Jesus. The great enemies of humanity. In our contemporary evangelical world. we have reduced the use of the word “gospel” to only a private experience whereby one is “saved” from the penalty of sin and given a “gift” of eternal life— . Israel’s life was to image God to the world. will as the Church. CCDA Leadership Cohort Member and Executive Director of Little Lights Urban Ministry in Washington. It is only natural then that Christians would engage in the redemptive process of the educational system. achieved through Jesus Christ. a bodily resurrection of all humanity will occur. However. and righteousness. the word “gospel” would have connoted “good news” about the birth of a king or regarding a military victory in war. Though Israel was largely unfaithful in this role. empowered by the Holy Spirit. When Christians do so. work hard to embody the life they will actively live in the age to come. and despite humanity’s propensity to sin. Christians can bear witness to the loving. The resurrected Jesus has returned to God and will someday return to formally place all of the creation under the loving. by faith. CCDA Board Member. To help us more fully understand the power of the Gospel. The Church is empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. justice. sin and death. death. since God's nature is redemptive.the Church . When this picture of the future guides Christians. Wright describes life in this vision as “future-shaped character. God is committed to seeking his creation’s redemption.” N.

we see that this King is not a typical king who looks out for his self-interests or the interests of the most powerful and the wealthy. We see this upside down value system in the Beatitudes in Matthew: Blessed are the poor in spirit.1 The word “gospel” is truly the declaration of the arrival and victory of Jesus. blessed are they that mourn. Even the word “Christ” was originally not a name. humble. But the word “gospel” would have also declared a sense of authority of a coming or victorious King not just a personal savior. N. In Jesus’ first teaching. B. a King. broken. Eerdmans. the true and rightful kingdom that will last 1 Wright. What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?. but only partly.” the announcement of sovereignty of the God of Israel (YHWH). In time of Jesus and Paul. The “gospel” of the servant and compassionate King is ushering in. It also implies that there is a kingdom which Jesus rules. he proclaims “The Spirit of the Lord is on me.which is true. not only a personal way of salvation. that has come and is coming. and represents a different kind of society than is presently in the world. In this new kingdom. the Christ and the King. blessed are the meek. but rather is concerned for the weakest and the poor. it is not the powerful and proud who are blessed. this truly is “good news” since everyone in this kingdom is valued and important. The call of the Church is to show the compassion and humility so radically apparent in its King and to present to the world the reality of this new kingdom. The call for the Church of Jesus Christ is not only to share the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the individual. blessed are the merciful. but the ushering of a new way of life and a new way to relate to one another. not only those who have status and power. and compassionate.T. governed righteously. It is a new society. It can only be “good news” for the poor if the poor are valued and that the King is compassionate to the poor. 1997 . If the King of the Jews truly is alive and the rightful ruler of the world. Wm. (Luke 4:18)” Referring back to Isaiah 61:1. because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. etc. Jesus proclaims that this “gospel. It was a title: of an anointed one. but those whose hearts are contrite. the world “gospel” would have sounded more as an announcement of a King who has been enthroned or a King who has won a major victory. Here. but to show and demonstrate the reality of the authority of this King Jesus by living under the Lordship of this benevolent servant King and displaying the characteristics of this rule by showing radical compassion and servanthood to an unbelieving world. is “good news” for the poor. Of course. Jesus is our savior and a very personal one at that.

security. Jesus talks about creating Shalom. (Matthew 5. employment. Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. health. We are not simply called to effect change that will allow individuals and communities to survive.. a blessing that includes everything that is good and wholesome.” And returning to the Gospel." A foundational passage of scripture for Christian Community Development is Isaiah chapter 58. but some of the essential blessings we are called to bestow upon the poor include dignity. completeness. . one who brings to light the fullness of every child’s potential. and to bless all the nations through him. We have been called to be a blessing to the urban poor. " Peace (Shalom) I leave with you. even healing.literally. I do not give to you as the world gives. nothing is broken. “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations. came to mean everything good you would want for yourself and wishing that same quality of life for your neighbors and friends. you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls. The sages of Israel even had a concept word for this: Tikkun Olam. whole. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. The call of the Church is live out in its fullness the gospel of the kingdom of God and its radically different values from the world embodied perfectly in its King. for they will be called children of God. this demands every follower of Christ to enter the arenas of our world where the “least of these” dwell and one of those areas is the arena of public education. We are called to bring the transformative change that provides opportunity for individuals and communities – for children – to thrive. in time. This Hebrew word. my peace (Shalom) I give you. FL as “Nothing is missing. .” Lea Gaskin-Fitchue.27 NIV) The founder of CCDA. Our notions of Christian Community Development will look different from place to place.. President of Payne Theological Seminary and CCDA Advisory Board member defined Shalom at the 2008 CCDA National Conference in Miami.9 NIV) When Jesus calls his followers to be "peacemakers. This imagery of repairing is found in verse 12. a purveyor of Shalom . . recreation and beauty.into eternity.” The prophet talks about repairing the world. . Perkins writes: “When God called Abraham to bless him." (John 14. education. When we understand and believe that every child is created in the Imago Dei. flourishing and thriving individuals. At the heart of the Gospel are the teachings of Jesus on Shalom – the presence of wholeness. power. he employed the notion of “Shalom”. then to live as a “peacemaker” . John Perkins. "repairing the world. Those who claim the name of Christ are called to engage in our struggling and failing educational systems and “repair” the broken walls of learning in order to create opportunities for our children to become complete." he is calling them to be the ones who bring healing and wholeness to a broken world. . provides a definition of Shalom in his book Beyond Charity helps us understand Shalom from a Christian Community Development viewpoint. Jesus says: Blessed are the peacemakers.

"He was moved with compassion. although this word is not used many times even by the evangelists. and home school offerings. As the dictionaries tell us— Ex intimis visceribus misericordia commoveor. It is not found in the Septuagint. If you would sum up the whole character of Christ in reference to ourselves. charter. It is expressive of the deepest emotion. his eyes gushed like founts with tears. His whole nature was agitated with commiseration for the sufferers before him. Compassion for these “little ones” – children and youth – is not merely an emotional response but rather one of action.And yet . Jesus said to his disciples. “You give them something to eat. . It is not found in classic Greek. I suppose that when our Saviour looked upon certain sights. Now.000 but notice Jesus’ response when the disciples came to him concerned about the hunger of the people.” This need is not what moved Jesus with compassion. “He was moved with compassion.” This is said of Christ Jesus several times in the New Testament. Some Christians develop alternative education offerings and we support these efforts. and then his face betrayed it. and therefore they had to make one. The original word is a very remarkable one. Compassion that led to action by Jesus occurred earlier that day. who are so far removed from living in the Imago Dei they were created in. who will never realize the fullness of Shalom. if not all Christians would say they have compassion for these children and youth who are struggling in our under-resourced communities. An old adage says. the majority of our children in under-resourced communities still attend public schools.36. But the hard truth is that regardless of the private. He was moved with compassion. his emotions were very deep. They are the “little ones” Jesus would be calling to himself today. a striving of the bowels – a yearning of the innermost nature with pity. it was a word coined by the evangelists themselves. They did not find one in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose. . and I intend thus to apply it to him. yet it may be taken as a clue to the Saviour’s whole life. The fact is. His compassion always led to action as recorded in Matthew 9. those who watched him closely perceived that his internal agitation was very great. “Belief without action is only opinion” and Jesus had no opinions. ." (Excerpted from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “The Compassion of Jesus”) The Gospels give us examples and insights into the actions of Christ when moved by compassion.  He healed the sick (Matthew 14)  He fed the hungry (Matthew 15)  He healed the leper (Mark 1)  He gave sight to the blind (Matthew 20)  He delivered the demoniac (Mark 5)  He brought the dead back to life (Luke 7)  He taught those in need of knowledge and understanding (Mark 6) The passage in Mark 6 is best known for the miracle of the feeding of the 5. Most. it might be gathered into this one sentence. and you saw that his big heart was ready to burst with pity for the sorrow upon which his eyes were gazing.

In public education. because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat. to love kindness. crime. We cannot be congruent with these teachings and actions of Jesus and ignore the needs of children. (Matthew 6. John Ogletree. high unemployment. state legislative bodies are targeting schools for budget cuts causing increased class sizes which make public education difficult or next to impossible to accomplish successfully.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. And our compassion must be firmly grounded in the justice of a holy God who is insulted and angered by injustice. active. underfunded. this can only be done by upholding what Metzger suggests “goodness and impartiality. 31 Then. thereby. Paul Louis Metzger describes Biblical Justice this way: Biblical justice involves making individuals. what is good. In addition. overcrowded and security challenged. The present issues that confront public education should be approached by the local church as well as faith organizations from a biblical justice paradigm. So he began teaching them many things. They attend schools across the country that are. by upholding both goodness and impartiality. Our response must be compassionate and. poor health. gangs. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. here we find a specific example from the life of Christ that challenges us as his followers to be moved with compassion when we see the masses of children who are “like sheep without a shepherd”. non-English speaking students and high dropout rates create tremendous challenges. teachers. immigration. And to walk humbly with your God? . and the cosmos whole. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd. in need of repair. Pastor of the First Metropolitan Church in Houston. he had compassion on them.30-34 NIV) Jesus was moved by compassion because the people in this large crowd “were like sheep without a shepherd. This can and should come from faith communities because justice is not just a social consciousness or a governmental law or policy. In this present age of dependency on standardized tests and accountability. TX and a member of the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District helps us understand the importance of Approaching Public Education Reform through a Biblical Justice Paradigm. Many come from the Latino/Hispanic community and the African American community where poverty. Justice is part of the fundamental nature of God.” There is a need for a justice viewpoint in public education. middle and high schools. because they were like sheep without a shepherd. and administrators in our underperforming schools. illiteracy. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Dr. he said to them.The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.” As we search the Scriptures for an understanding of our responsibilities for our children. And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice. Micah 6:8 (NASB95) 8 He has told you. poor and minority students do not equal white students in scores. Dr. So he began teaching them many things. The children in our public schools need the opportunity for “wholeness” and. O man. communities. the individuals are the children who populate our elementary.

we have to proactively participate in justice being advocated. crime and hopelessness.Proverbs 29:7 (NIV) 7 The righteous care about justice for the poor. Their futures are compromised because of a lack of quality education and in many cases their present realities create another layer of vulnerability. When one reads the word of God we see His desire for justice. the injustices of the educational system are an offense to him. These two passages of Scripture can be a basis for seeking justice for the children in our public schools. well-funded and well-staffed school. which means we have to not talk about justice. They become the future of our cities and neighborhoods. regardless of race. public education that enables fullness of life. The Scriptures are replete with references to justice for the most vulnerable. Our future depends on it. gender or citizenship. Jesus announced that His anointing was for the poor. working for education reform in order to create quality public education opportunities for every child because:  Every child is created in the Image of God  Education is a necessary means by which every child experiences the Shalom of God  We are called to be “Peacemakers” and “Repairers”  Compassion requires action  God requires us to do justice . deserve access and opportunity for quality. Approaching education reform from a Biblical Justice paradigm should motivate and mobilize the faith community to do their part to make sure children do not fall through academic cracks. and taking in the stranger. The development of our communities hinge on what we do with our children today. The Pledge of Allegiance ends with the phrase “with liberty and justice for all. Jesus taught that the righteous will be held accountable for feeding the hungry.” This position is a position of Biblical Justice. and visiting the sick. but the wicked have no such concern. It is then incumbent upon us to respond as Restorers of justice. economic status.” should be our cry when it comes to public education. nationality. economic status. the captives.” “Justice for all. This can be applied to public school reform. Because the Scriptures teach that injustice is an insult to God. established and practiced. gender or citizenship deserve access and opportunity for quality public education that enables fullness in life. Without an educationally sound primary and secondary foundation. Involvement in the public schools of our neighborhoods and communities is incumbent upon us. giving water to the thirsty. and the oppressed. In our culture. nationality. CCDA does believe that all children. clothing the naked. And CCDA will act. The economically disadvantaged and minority students are falling through the academic cracks. All students should have the right and privilege to attend a quality. CCDA has taken the position that “all children regardless of race. This is what is revealed by on Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 and Matthew 25:31-46. In closing. God requires us to do justice. the brokenhearted. they will be more likely bound to a life of low income wages. the children and youth who are in poor performing school districts are some of the most vulnerable.

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