Christianity’s Contributions: Schools started (Part 1)

A new month (and year!) begins a new blog series on Christianity’s contributions.  In examining the past cultural additions Christianity has made, possibly none other is as notable as the opening of schools and the impact that the Church has had on education in general.  Throughout this month, we’ll see that private and public schools, grade schools and universities, and schools for the deaf and blind all were either started or improved by the Church.  And it all started with Jesus.

Jesus’ command to teach all nations is found in the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20.  He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  The Apostles did just that, and the Early Church followed in their footsteps.  

The Didache was written between 85-110 AD.  It was an instructional manual for new converts to Christianity.   The first 2 verses state, “There are two ways, one of life and one of death! and there is a great difference between the two ways.  The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you.”  What follows those verses are biblical basics on conduct, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and other spiritual issues.

About that time, Ignatius (110 AD) urged that children be taught the Bible and a skilled trade as well.  Before the opening of schools, catechumens (or candidates for joining the church) were taught orally by question and answer in a teacher’s home in preparation for baptism and membership to a local congregation. Later, schools would provide that education.  More on that in the next blog.

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