In my previous three posts, I have attempted to summarize three of four distinctive aspects of the segment of North American Christian higher education we call biblical higher education. Without implying exclusivity, our collective understanding of the essential ethos of our segment of Christian higher education has become crystallized in terms of the following four concepts: biblical, transformational, experiential, and missional. You can read about our take on biblical, transformational, and missional education by accessing my last three posts. Here we turn to the fourth and final distinctive.
We engage intentionally and pervasively in missional higher education. We maintain that an authentically biblical worldview compels all believers—regardless of present or future occupation—to understand their personal vocation within the context of history’s destiny: the day of consummation when present reality in heaven—the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ—becomes lived reality on earth.
In his 2014 best seller, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, Douglas Rushkoff argues that contemporary society has moved beyond Alvin Toffler’s 1980s Future Shock to a new zeitgeist he calls Present Shock. Rushkoff’s analysis posits five key manifestations of present shock: post-narrative culture [no time for meaning-making and value-anchoring stories], digiphrenia [the relentless 24/7 assault of information and obligation], overwinding [ever increasing compression of time and consequences], fractonalia [our mostly futile attempts to make meaning out of a barrage of disparate data], and apocalypto [desperation to embrace an end to the madness].
The Temple Destruction
Speaking of shock, Jesus shocked his disciples when, a few days before he went to the cross, he predicted the obliteration of the most apparently unassailable and enduring edifice in their world. Herod’s temple, a contemporary wonder of the world, was a symbol of Jewish permanence and preeminence. No wonder that when Jesus predicted that structure would be destroyed within their lifetimes, the disciples construed that prediction in apocalyptic terms. They assumed this meant the end of the ages and asked Jesus for the inside scoop on how and when this would occur. Jesus answered in teleological rather than chronological terms. He spoke not of the timing of the end but of the end toward which time is marching—and the agenda for God’s people in the meantime: the announcement of the good news (Matthew 24:14) and the accompanying authentication of that news (Matthew 25:31-46).
The telos of Christian Higher Education
Biblical higher education—indeed any and all authentically Christian higher education–must center upon thisend (telos) and the life priorities for every true disciple: proclaiming and demonstrating the Good News.
Missional higher education is education that above all cultivates a deeper awareness of and life-orientation around the biblical metanarrative of creation-fall-redemption-
Higher education that is intentionally and pervasively biblical, transformational, experiential and missional has never been more relevant or urgent.