Monday, June 02, 2014

BookPastor >> "Learning for the Love of God" (Donald Opitz and Derek Melleby)

This review was first published on March 13th, 2014 at Panorama of a Book Saint. Recommended for all students and people who call themselves learners.


TITLE: Learning for the Love of God: A Student's Guide to Academic Faithfulness
AUTHOR: Donald Opitz and Derek Melleby
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2nd edition, 2014, (144 pages).

In the Christian world, many people have been advocating for a deeper faith in the workplace or integrating faith in the marketplace. While at school, we learn how best to put our faith to the test. What about our schools and educational environments? Are they not marketplaces in themselves?

From the most boring lectures to the most interesting classroom lessons, this book shows us that every class matters. In the words of the authors, two words summed up the whole book: "Academic Faithfulness." The authors have a common heritage: Geneva College with Opitz a professor and Melleby an alumnus. They begin with two erroneous expectations of college students. The first is the "beer and circus" which on the outside looks like fun and partying, but on a deeper level, is a distraction from academic faithfulness. The second is the "grades and accolades" expectation that sees academic success and recognition as idols. What is needed is a way for students to be renewed in mind and transformed at heart.

Then there is the need to beware of "deceptive philosophies and traditions" in the college arena. One key warning is to avoid swallowing the pill of "education for upward mobility" at the expense of "education for responsible action." The subject of worldview is examined, and readers are encouraged not to buy into a "seeing is believing" mindset, but also to learn faith without seeing. Students ought to appreciate life as a story rather than some disconnected things or disjointed ideas. "Fish-eyed learning" needs to be put aside in favour of a Christian mind that is relationships aware, biblically based, and ideologically sound, instead of being sucked into ideological confusion. Opitz and Melleby string together  the four part Biblical narrative (Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation) with the four Is (Integration-Idolatry-Investment-Imagination) to help us connect the dots of learning. We are reminded that while learning is important, being changed from the inside out is equally (if not) more important. Some great advice are given, such as looking for a mentor; getting involved in care groups; volunteering in the community; engaging people of other faiths. Knowing includes a big part of listening.

So What?

Now in its second edition, this book is an important contribution to Christians, particularly those involved in educational circles in some way. It can be teachers or students, parents or educators, leaders or community decision makers, and so on. The idea of "academic faithfulness" needs to be expanded beyond the circles of the academy. Without a proper worldview, students will be caught up in a world of varying ideas that can easily sweep them away. In this manner, it is like building a house on the sand of disconnected and disjointed philosophies rather than the rock of divine reality. Human philosophies and fabricated ideas will not stand up against the rock of the Creator, the Great Storyteller, the Sovereign Ruler of all.

Though this book is aimed at a Christian audience, the general thrust of the book is to help us get a bigger picture of the purpose of education. I appreciate the way the authors describe the two erroneous expectations of most students: "beer and circus" and "grades and accolades." Education is not mere fun or fabulous grades. It needs faith. Lest we produce individuals who simply straddle through college to become aimless graduates, or a generation of people who can score perfect As but still flunk the school of life. Read this book. Buy it for your children or college students. For a student who is trained in "academic faithfulness" through college will stand a better chance of godliness and vocational integrity through the journey of life.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Brazos Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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