Banking or Building: Biblical Integration

Recently, I have been able to engage in some great conversations about biblical worldview and integration with other Christian educators. It is apparent that Christian schools (and all believers) need an understanding of how beliefs should impact teaching and learning. The interesting analogy of teaching as either “banking” (where knowledge is stored up) or “building” (where knowledge is applied) was brought up. Should we teach primarily so that students know or so that they do?

Biblically, the case should be made that we must do both. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17), but works without faith is dead too. Understanding without action is not real understanding.

We must “bank” (store up knowledge) and “build” (apply that knowledge). However, these are not necessarily separate things. Proper “banking” leads to proper “building.” For example, no contractor can build without proper tools or blueprints. The action requires the knowledge.

As Christian teachers, we know that every subject is meant to help people know God (John 17:3) and live for Him (Luke 10:27).

With this in mind, every lesson can, and should, be characterized by biblical integration. By this I do not mean that we should tie a foreign biblical concept into a lesson to “Christianize” it, but we should see things as they really are… and understand what they are for. I define biblical integration like this: teaching all things from and toward the glory of God. This is the classic, historic worship rhythm of revelation and response. The title of my book on biblical integration is based on CS Lewis speaking to this idea,  “Every bush (could we but perceive it) is a Burning Bush.”  Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it similarly and beautifully:

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware…”

Our job as teachers is to help students see, so that they might take off their shoes. Knowledge (banking) should lead to action (building).

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