How the Reformation Led to Education for All

The Reformation and Education
The phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in Christianity. Christianity is a teaching religion. The greatest universities worldwide were started by Christians in fulfillment of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Roots of Education for Everyone
The roots of education for the common person goes back to the Reformation, and, especially, to John Calvin. “The modern idea of popular education – that is, education for everyone – first arose in Europe during the Protestant Reformation.” (Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld – Is Public Education necessary?)

A Teaching Religion
American educator, Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld, came to Christ through reading Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. As Blumenfeld did his research on education, he found that, when it came to the concept of education for the common man, all roads led to Calvin. It was as he read the primary documents that he came to place his faith in Christ.

Intellectual Manhood
“Wherever Calvinism has gone, it has carried the school with it and has given a powerful impulse to popular education. It is a system, which demands intellectual manhood. In fact, we say that its very existence is tied up with education of the people.” (Dr. Loraine Boettner – The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination).

The Academy
Calvin’s Academy at Geneva was the model for many of the early colleges and universities established by the Puritans and their successors in America.

To Know God and to Make Him Known
Calvin advocated that the purpose of education is for people to know God and to glorify Him as God – that in our vocation and in our life we might know “the knowledge of God, the Creator and Redeemer.” The content of education must begin with the Scriptures and continue into God’s Creation.

A School to Bring People to Christ
In Geneva, Calvin promoted education for everyone, which has become the pattern for our day. When John Knox fled from Scotland and sought freedom from persecution, in Geneva, he declared that Geneva had become “the greatest school of Christ since the time of the Apostles.”

The Control of Education Should be in the Hands of Parents
Calvin emphasised the importance of education having moral relevance. Calvin also was insistent that it was the parents’ responsibility to educate their children. Therefore the control of education should remain with the parents.

One Truth
Of America’s first 126 universities, 123 were Christian. This included Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. The very etymology of the word university testifies to its Christian origins: UniVeritas. One Truth. Humanists do not even believe in one truth, or that it can objectively known. Atheists can open up an Aversity. Pagans can have a Polyversity. Humanists can have a Diversity. But Universities should be Christian. Reclaim your campus for Christ.

Inspiring Literature
The Reformation also produced some of the greatest works of literature. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was one of the world’s greatest writers. Scriptural quotes and Biblical images from the Geneva Bible permeate Shakespeare’s writings.

Pilgrim’s Progress
Similarly, John Bunyan (1628-1688) gave the world one of the greatest novels ever written – Pilgrim’s Progress. This parable of the Christian life is one of the all-time most published and widely read books in the history of the world.

Paradise Regained
John Milton (1608-1674) author of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained was the secretary to Oliver Cromwell and also a Puritan.

Soli Deo Gloria
Many music critics declare that Bach was the greatest musician that ever lived. J.S. Bach was an unsurpassed genius, and is acknowledged as the father of modern music. He left no musical form as he found it, says one critic. On the other hand, with every form he touched, he seemed to have said the last word. Bach’s teaching notebooks and violin books have been the basis for music theory and practice ever since. Johan Sebastian Bach was a Protestant Christian, a Lutheran. Most of his library consisted of Protestant writings, including all of Luther’s writings. Bach taught his pupils that music is an act of worship and all musicians need to commit their talents to the Lord Jesus Christ. Bach wrote SDG – Soli Deo Gloria – on every page of music he produced.

The Greatest Inspiration for Music and Literature
As one critic said: “Bach is to music what Shakespeare is to literature. They are both the greatest.” And they were both Protestant Christians. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” Proverbs 1:7

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