What Ever Happened to Theology?

One thing that has amazed me about modern Christian schools is how few theological classes most of them teach. As I have looked at school curricula online, I have noticed that the typical Christian school only has one or maybe two Bible classes at the high school level. The neglect of theology is not a surprise in our intellectually impoverished society. But it appears that even Christian schools today are catering to academic frivolity. 

Part of the problem is that many Christian schools on the whole do not look all that different from public schools. Many larger Christian schools have not rethought educational method and therefore resemble American public schools of the 1950s. They have public school curriculum with prayer and a Bible class tacked on.

Whatever the historical explanation may be, let us consider the possible reasons why a Christian school may not have a robust theological curriculum:  

  1. The school cannot fit more theology classes into their schedule.
  2. The school does not have teachers qualified to teach advanced theology classes.
  3. The school does not know what additional theology classes should be taught.
  4. The school believes theology should be incorporated in their entire curriculum and not made a separate class.
  5. The school does not value theological classes.

A school may actually desire a more rigorous theological curriculum but have practical problems, such as (1) scheduling and (2) finding qualified teachers. There are demands for schools to have so many different classes today—more math, more science, more language, etc. But many of these demands are for more electives and recreational classes, and it is difficult for a Christian school to justify offering an 11th grade elective class over say, Systematic Theology. The problem of (2) finding qualified teachers is solvable simply by developing a theological curriculum and implementing the classes in the schedule. If the classes are there, the school will have to hire qualified individuals to teach the classes. And there are myriad seminary-trained men out there who can teach these courses.

As for (3) not knowing what courses to teach, this position is somewhat understandable. Most private schools are emulating other schools’ curriculum, and few around them are offering anything other than Bible courses. Plus, what more do kids need than a Bible class? This attitude is a result of following the crowd—which is not working out too well in American education. Education needs to be rethought, and curriculum needs to be more distinctively Christian. An additional theology class, such as Systematic Theology, is the place to start.

(4) Not wanting separate theology classes is a methodological problem, as some Christian schools are seeking to incorporate the Bible and theology into all their classes. If we talk about theology in history and literature classes, why do we need an entire course dedicated to theology? This does make the correct point that theology ought to be included in all subjects. Agreed. All subjects should be taught from a biblical worldview. But that does not mean a school should axe Systematic Theology or Apologetics. These classes have the benefit of studying theology in-depth, something many students will not get anywhere else (including church!). One should not assume the twofold nature of Christ will be explained by a kid’s 20 year-old youth pastor who was hired because he knew how to play a G chord.

(5) Not valuing theological education is the most serious problem of all. Yet, it is actually the root problem of every school that does not have a robust theological curriculum. Schools teach courses in subjects they value. Schools that value STEM offer AP calculus and AP biology. Schools that value foreign languages offer multiple languages and require several years of them. Schools that do not teach theology do not value theology. It’s plain and simple. If they valued theology, they would prioritize it and make it part of the curriculum.