Archive for January, 2012

Christianity & Knowledge?

January 20, 2012

So I recently applied for an architecture faculty position at California Baptist University, also known as Cal Baptist.  The application asked for an answer on this topic:

In the space provided please describe how your Christian experience is related to your philosophy of higher education.  What influence do you think a teacher should have upon his or her students?  How do you propose to integrate the Christian faith with the teaching of your particular subject area?

I strongly agree with the apostle Paul when he says in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 that “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”  It is more important for us to have love for one another than to have all knowledge and understanding.  But does this mean that knowledge has no place or has no value?  Definitely not, knowledge is important and does have a place.  It just needs to be seen in the proper perspective.  And only with Christianity can knowledge been seen in its proper perspective as it is the only religion that makes full sense of all knowledge.  C. S. Lewis said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  We must look at knowledge and learning through the lens of Christianity, or else knowledge loses its luster and becomes just a thing, or worse yet, an idol.  When God created the Earth, he saw that everything he had created was good.  Knowledge is an intangible thing, but it is still good.  It can provide for many things: a career, wonder, health, amazement, clues to the reality of a creator, etc.  It can be abused for selfish or worldly gain, but the truth is that it exists to give glory to God.  But it is absolutely critical that knowledge be put in its proper place and seen with the proper perspective.

A teacher should influence one’s students to acquire knowledge in the proper perspective, to become better learners, to become excited about learning, to develop skills for life, and to grow and integrate their field of knowledge with the Christian faith.  In regards to becoming excited about learning, William Butler Yeats said “Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire.”  When teaching architecture specifically, one should instruct that architecture, like knowledge, should exist to glorify God.  Practically this means creating buildings that satisfy people’s needs and budget and do not take advantage of the client or others.  Buildings should not be vain, earthly, overblown, gaudy things, but should be both practical and beautiful structures.  Architects should strive for honesty and ethics in all areas of architecture, as if doing the work for the Lord and not for man (Colossians 3:23).  My master’s thesis involved the design of churches, and I identified seven important aspects of churches that apply equally well to other buildings. They are: unity of the overall building, beauty of the structure, maximum use of natural light and skillful use of artificial light, simplicity and honesty of materials, durability and quality, cost-effectiveness, and utility and functionality.  All these things should work together so the architect can say with the psalmist “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Psalm 127:1