South Pacific

Reconciling Faith and Social Science Content Instruction

Today’s society is presenting Adventist educators around the world with some of the greatest challenges they have ever had regarding how best to address the conflicts between current worldviews and the biblical principles that should define and characterise our educational system.

This is particularly challenging for teaching liberal arts or social sciences on a college level. We are confronted with the challenges to maintain a neutral stance and tolerance and yet preserve truths now relevant for the present.

Unless we strategically draw a moral line between the world’s beliefs and practices and Biblical principles, we may be in danger of perpetuating some of the world’s ills such as social, cultural, religious or racial prejudice and discrimination. We must carefully consider how to instruct 21st century students about global societal issues like poverty, same sex marriage, terrorism, transgenderism, and consumerism, to name a few more. Recently, we encountered a dilemma in how to objectively and truthfully teach such issues in the subject Geographies of Society focused on the multiple and multicultural perspectives of society and culture. It was this realisation that inspired the preparation of this educational article for our awareness.

Photo: Pixabay

Encounters with such societal and cultural issues raise concerns about the role of Adventist Social Science Adventist Educators. Generally they have rejected the classical theory of evolution. However, we may still be unintentionally disseminating either its tenets or the secularism it encourages through content teaching that is clearly inconsistent with biblical teaching and principles. These world beliefs work against the transformational change and true education desired by students and their parents from an Adventist education.

In our experience, teaching about race and ethnicity involved teaching about the difference between these terms and reading around issues related to the topic for student groups whose tasks were to discuss, formulate a biblically sound statement and a moral stance. Race was defined as referring to people link through a common ancestor and ethnicity as denoting a cultural diversity between people. Students also discussed the Genesis 1:27 truth that God created from soil the first man, Adam, the father of the human race, in his likeness and image and this truth was upheld against the popular belief that there are many races of people because of their many skin colours. Similarly, an article about ethnic conflicts was read and discussed in contrast with Genesis 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17, which forbids killing, and the Genesis 4:10 warning that the blood of the dead cries to God for justice. The moral and biblically sound principle formulated by students was that we are all members of one and the same human race and one family, and the different shades and tones of skin colour reflected the different colours and shades of brown reflected that of soil that God created. We must therefore respect and treat with justice and fairness all members of the human family. Students also read about white resentment and affirmed the same biblical values and principles already cited. In essence, the human family is one race; they have one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 8:6). Therefore we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:29) and members of one human family.

We as Adventist educators around the world can use discussions such as these to handle sensitive and controversial social science topics with biblical truth and morally sound resolutions that cause students to adopt a transformative and Christ-like perspective over current worldviews. In so doing, we can conform to biblical principles that should define and characterise our educational system.

If we as Adventist educators can address the contradictions between societal experience and biblical principles, we may help our students attain a deeper experience with God that will affirm biblical principles, transform and shapes their values and attitudes, which may lead them to greater usefulness in loving relationship and service to humanity. It is up to us to live out Biblical principles and teach them to our students to help them become Christ-like citizens and future leaders in our world.

Jennifer Litau

Jennifer Litau

Dr Jennifer Litau, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities, Education and Theology, Pacific Adventist University, Papua New Guinea.
Jennifer Litau

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