The quest for better education in the West would be greatly enhanced by a curriculum from the Puritans.
I recently became aware of a missing ingredient in the contemporary discussion of the health and development of nations. I speak of the concept of a unified field of knowledge that accurately encompasses the universe in all of its created reality.
A few weeks ago, our friend, Dr. Christian Overman of Worldview Matters sent me his paper, The Missing Curriculum of God-Centered Work. It introduced me to the Puritan concept of Technologia. I was surprised that despite years of study and reflection on the subject of LifeWork and Biblical Theology of Vocation I had never come across the Puritan’s concept of Technologia.
For many, the word “Puritan” evokes a modern caricature; “Puritanical” has become a disparaging term for the suppression of life’s pleasures. This is unfortunate as it creates a barrier for the modern mind to take the Puritans seriously. The Puritans sought to consciously live within moral boundaries, yet in that framework they fully enjoyed life. For example, Puritans regarded alcoholic beverages as a good gift of God to be used in moderation for both health and pleasure. Christianity Today observes:
Though Christian objections to alcohol and tobacco may be called ‘Puritanical’ by some, these stances are actually of much more recent vintage. In fact, the Puritans drank beer. The Mayflower log book from 1620 records that one of the reasons that ship stopped at Plymouth, rather than searching for a more hospitable spot further south, was ‘our victuals being much spent, especially our beere.’
Why have I digressed concerning the Puritans? Because our modern understanding of them is a barrier to a whole generation of people not being able to see that it was the Puritans that provided us with the mental framework that created the most free and prosperous society the world has ever known.
The foundation for the Puritan concept of Technologia was actually laid by a Czech, the Moravian Educational Reformer, John Amos Comenius (1592-1670). Comenius was known as the Father of Modern Education, of the stature of Horace Mann and John Dewey. But it was Comenius who, operating from a Biblical worldview, laid the foundations for an educational system that built a nation while Mann and Dewey, operating from deistic and atheistic worldviews, deformed the educational framework ultimately leading to the demise of our freedom and an unraveling of our economy.
Comenius wrote the Didactica Magna – The Whole Art of Teaching, in which he introduced the concept of the pansophic principle: “everything must be taught to everyone.” Comenius articulated Biblical concepts of the unified field of knowledge (everything must be taught) and universal education (to everyone).
But it was his A Reformation of Schooles, in which Comenius cast the vision for Technologia. For example,
And Praised be thou, O Lord, forever, which dost likewise give us thy works and word for a pattern, whereby to erect this Pansophy, or temple of Wisdom: that as thy word and works are true and lively representations of thee: so this, which we are about, may prove a true, and lively image of thy word and works.
Comenius is saying that “we [humans] are about” the business of erecting a “temple of Wisdom,” i.e. creating culture to the glory of God. He is saying that, through His Primary Creation (His works and His Word) God has revealed himself as the Primary Creator. In studying the Creation and the Book, we may become wise. From God’s word and work, human beings are to discover God’s nature and the nature of reality – VERITAS. We are then to be about mimicking God by building our cultures (the “secondary worlds”) to reflect God and his primary world. As we do so, we glorify God and fill the earth with His glory. Education is the instrument of this end.
The Puritan Vision can be expressed thus: VERITAS – The Pursuit of Truth → ENCYCLOPEDIA – The Circle of Knowledge → EUPRAXIA – The Practice of Right Living. In upcoming posts we will examine each of these key concepts that formed Technologia.
– Darrow Miller