Following is a short piece by Andy Stapleton, a Rhetoric School teacher at MHA, that first appeared in the March issue of the Highland Times.
At January’s Worldview Summit in Washington, D.C., one of the speakers said something very simple, yet very profound: “Culture is an expression of theology.” The significance of this statement grows as we come to realize that every group of people has a “culture.” Whether or not the group intentionally pursues a particular “culture,” every nation, corporation, church, team, school and family has one. This is why it’s impossible for the public square (or public schools) to be theologically neutral. Someone’s beliefs will inevitably be expressed in the culture.
How does culture express theology? Every culture assumes certain fundamental beliefs about God, human beings, the created world, etc. In class, we discuss worldview questions such as “What are human beings?” or “What is wrong with the world?” and then “What is the solution to the world’s problem?” Our answers to these three questions dictate how we interact with each other. Our beliefs about human beings determine how men and women treat one another, how parents treat children and vice versa, and how all of us treat the very old and the very young. In the school setting, what do we do with the disobedient child? How do we treat the child who excels but then becomes conceited? Our approach depends on our theology. To quote the title of one of my most memorable college textbooks, “Ideas Have Consequences.”
Arguably, the most important idea of all is a culture’s answer to the question, “What is the chief end of man?” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 1) If man’s highest goal is to glorify himself and to enjoy “stuff” until he dies, one kind of culture is the result. If, however, man’s chief end is what God says it is in Scripture, we cultivate a culture aimed at loving God and loving our neighbors.
In the 21st century, we cannot avoid involving ourselves in “cultures” that do not express a God-centered theology. That’s okay, because God calls us to be light in a dark house. During our children’s formative years, however, immersing them in a God-centered culture is the best way to saturate their minds and hearts with the Word of God. We want to teach them that God’s perspective is relevant to every area of their lives. Making disciples means teaching them to observe everything Jesus commanded so that they, in turn, will be eager to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness throughout their lives.
One of the most valuable features of MHA is our God-centered school culture. Whether in the classroom, in the lunchroom, on the court or on the stage, the Bible’s theology determines our perspectives and priorities. The challenges we face from the world, the flesh and the devil are real, but we pray that the Lord’s “living water” will enable us to cultivate this garden to be a place where strong, fruitful trees grow up to God’s glory.