The philosophical basis on which Geneva College rests, referred to as the Foundational Concepts of Christian Education, was prepared by a joint committee of the Board of Corporators and Board of Trustees of Geneva College and adopted by the Board of Trustees at their meeting on October 26, 1967. The Board of Corporators and Trustees modified the document in June 1996.
Starting with the belief that God is the source of all truth, education becomes the exciting adventure of seeking to appropriate knowledge in all its various facets under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Education that is Christian takes for its perspective the biblical view of God, mankind and the universe in their mutual relations.
While education in a Christian context does not guarantee truth, it does seek to establish the starting point apart from which ultimate truth can never be learned. It becomes essential, therefore, to establish the direction for education from this Christian perspective, and the following Statement has been drawn up in an attempt to make this clear as related to Geneva College. In no sense should it be considered as the last word, but it purports to be the foundational concept upon which scholarship under God may thrive and expand.
This view of education rests upon the historic Christian faith contained in the Scriptures, symbolized by the open Bible on the seal of the College. Holding to the summary of this faith as contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith the mid-seventeenth century, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America has endeavored for over 150 years to offer through Geneva College an education that articulates the implications of the sovereignty of Jesus Christ over all of His creation.
"For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light." Psalm 36:9
The Christian View of God.
God is one being, existing in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is a personal being, possessing in Himself all that personality means yet without limitation. He is the self-existent Creator, Preserver and Controller of the universe in its totality.
The Christian View of Mankind.
Men and women are unique among all living creatures, being distinguished from the animals by being created in the image of God as rational, moral and spiritual beings. The purpose of human life is to glorify and to enjoy God, and only when life is so viewed can the highest happiness, welfare and honor be experienced. We are created as immortal beings. Earthly life is therefore preparatory to the life after death and should not be regarded as an end in itself, though as God's creation the present earthly life has a real value of its own.
By our relationship to Adam, as representative of the human race, we are fallen creatures. By moral revolt against God, we lost both our position of communion with God and our ability to consciously reflect God's glory, and instead became devoted to the worship and aggrandizement of self. Our fall into sin affected not only our moral nature but also our intellect, making us prone to error, and requiring divine revelation to determine ultimate standards and values in all fields. The moral and intellectual effects of sin are such that we are incapable of removing them by our own effort.
Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, died and rose again as our representative, in order that we who are chosen of God, regenerated by the Spirit, and by faith identified with Christ in His death and resurrection might be restored to fellowship with God in the Holy Spirit and enabled to glorify God actively in our lives. As believing Christians, having realized our union with Christ and hence our own death to sin and rising to newness of life in the Spirit, we renounce self-centeredness as a lifestyle and seek in every phase of our experience to understand and reflect God's glory.
The Christian View of the Universe.
The universe, as the creation of God, serves to reveal God; and its revelation is true, valid, and useful in itself. The created universe, being full of God's glory, is to be understood, appreciated, ruled and used by us. God in his goodness has bestowed upon us the ability to discover and use truths about the universe, which may be learned irrespective of a person's spiritual relationship with Him. In seeking to understand the truth of the universe in all of its dimensions, we are responsible to use every faculty and effort, but the facts of the universe can be understood in the fullest sense only when viewed in relationship to God. Ultimate judgments must finally be made in the light of God's Word, the Holy Scripture, which is the only adequate and inerrant standard of truth.
Inasmuch as we were created to glorify God, Christian education seeks to develop the students' abilities to know God and to relate themselves and the created universe to God through the study of His Word and Works. Christian education emphasizes the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ in order that students may be yielded to Him as their Savior from sin, and that they may see in Christ the ultimate purpose and meaning of the whole universe.
It is the purpose of Christian education to seek the realization of the potential of the individual as the image of God through the development of God-given capacities. The fulfillment of those potentialities is reached insofar as students devote those capacities to God's glory in their vocations and daily lives. Christian education endeavors to develop each student's capacity for the enjoyment of the world as God's creation, in all its cultural richness, realizing that all of life as a coherent whole is related to God and His redemptive activity. The goal of Christian education is the development of mature students who, as individuals, have well-integrated personalities; and who, as well-oriented members of society, are building the kingdom of God in the family, the church, the nation and the world.
Implications for the School.
All persons responsible in any way for the functioning of an educational institution share in the pursuit of its goals. In Christian education this becomes particularly significant since no task, teaching or other, is unrelated to God; and also because all personnel should demonstrate in their lives an end-purpose of Christian education. Everyone shares in the transmission of knowledge, but only those consciously committed to Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures can envision and reach the goals of Christian education. To realize the goals of Christian education all faculty members should seek to understand more completely and to teach more effectively their particular disciplines with academic excellence within a consistent biblical world and life view.
Implications for the Student.
While students may attain a high degree of knowledge through the grace given to all, in order for them to attain the goals of Christian education, they must be in submission to the person of Jesus Christ, that sin and its effects in their own personalities may be overcome. Students, as creatures of God, are under His mandate both to learn and to apply all knowledge for the purpose of knowing and glorifying God. They should not be sheltered from non-Christian viewpoints, but must become able to evaluate all knowledge critically, to gain from that which is true and to discard error. Students should be aware of God's call on their lives and thus see their education as an opportunity to prepare for their life work, whatever those fields of endeavor may be.
Implication for the Curriculum.
In Christian education the curriculum is built upon the foundation that the historic Christian Faith is permanently true, and that it is the integrating factor of a truly Christian education program. Since Christian education leads toward an understanding of God, mankind and the universe in their inter-relatedness, the curriculum will have a strong emphasis on both the humanities and the sciences, theoretic and applied, as well as a basic core of biblical studies. The curriculum should lead students to grasp the foundations of learning so that they can live a life glorifying to God, confronting honestly and confidently the problems and challenges of new knowledge, and contributing to the welfare of society under God.
Implications for Moral Discipline.
Standards of moral discipline must be maintained according to the moral law of God, which He has set forth in Scripture. Therefore, discipline is to be exercised on the basis of God's Word. Discipline exercised in Christian love and firmness not only deters licentiousness, but also teaches in principle how to live under Christ's Lordship and how to live with other people on the basis of righteousness. Moral discipline must always be exercised in an attitude of helping the offender in the context of the doctrine of sin and its solution in Jesus Christ.