Reforming education for All
The Reformation forever changed education. In Martin Luther’s day, formal education was reserved for boys. Specifically, it was for boys who would go on to be lawyers, doctors, or priests.
The Reformation taught that all Christians are called by God through Christ to love their neighbors. They do this through their many roles in family, community, work, and church (1 Corinthians 7:17, 20; 1 John 4:7-11). This teaching led Luther to see that everyone needs formal education. “”Everyone needs an education in the liberal arts and sciences so they best understand how to help others through their God-given vocations in life.”” They also need an education to help them read God’s Word, receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Word, and proclaim that saving Word to the world. The temporal and eternal benefits of education equally apply to all—lawyers and businessmen, future fathers and future mothers, politicians and citizens.
Luther was the first person to argue that all boys and girls should receive a formal education and that the state should pay for it. He robustly claimed in support of education:
A city’s best and greatest welfare, safety, and strength consist rather in its having many able, learned, wise, honorable, and well-educated citizens. They can then readily gather, protect, and properly use treasure and all manner of property.
This was a watershed moment for education in the West. It is the reason why millions of boys and girls have gone to school in Europe as well as in North, Central, and South America.
The reformation of education still impacts us. As in Luther’s day, we too need wise and honorable citizens who thoughtfully and excellently fulfill their callings in family, work, society, and church. “”We need citizens who identify, analyze, and solve problems in life and do so in ways that promote peace and justice for others.”” We need citizens who insightfully read God’s Word and eloquently proclaim its saving message to others. Education is always reforming.
The Conserving Reformation
The Reformation Sings