What is the goal of education?

I’ve been in Seminary forever – or at least it feels that way. I came to Boyce in 1999 and started at Southern in 2004. Mark Twain spoke well when he said, “Education is that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.”

I want to hear your thoughts. This post is an open forum on that theme. In your opinion, what is the goal of education?

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24 Responses to What is the goal of education?

  1. Josh says:

    I have always viewed education as a tool. It is a tool that enables you to synthesize informations. You can’t possibly learn everything in seminary but if you get the basics down and practice using them you will have a much needed tool.

  2. Scotty says:

    I agree with Josh and would add that education is to equip you to find gainful employment in a field that you hopefully care about. If you are talking about seminary education I would not minimize the value of relationships formed during those years either – they tend to stay with you.

  3. Tony Kummer says:

    Josh – I’ve heard people talk about the goal of education as helping learners to become self directed and lifelong learners. Is that what you mean by tool?

    Scotty – The whole relational dynamic is very undervalued in education. I would guess that 80% of effectiveness in the local church (humanly speaking) is a direct result of how you interact with people. Relationships with other students and professors is a great chance to learn how to encourage and minister to others.

  4. Josh says:

    Tony, Yeah I suppose the lifelong learner element is somewhat what I was saying but also the fact that things come at you fast, everything changes, and you need to know how to interact with that. If you know the basics you can evaluate and study some new concept or just some new way of saying an old concept and make a wise decision about it.

  5. Dave Crater says:

    I submit the goal of authentic education is threefold:

    1) know the truth about God, and thus know and love God, more deeply and more accurately;
    2) know man, and thus be able to love and serve men, more deeply and more accurately; and
    3) know the creation, and thus be able to love, steward, and develop the creation, more proficiently and joyously and to glorify God in the process.

  6. Adam Brown says:

    As someone who has been through Boyce and now at Southern, would you say that going for your Master’s has been worth it after your education at Boyce? I am a Boyce student who is unsure at this point.

  7. Tony Kummer says:

    Dave – I like your definition, it really places education within the Christian Worldview.

    Adam – It depends. For me it was good. I serve a church not far from here and have been able to do SBTS part time with much less pressure + the benefit of grounding all of it in local church ministry.

    I am retaking some of the same courses on the Masters level. At times this is overkill, but if you really want to learn you can go above and beyond and really master the subjects.

    And there is the practical concern of JOB. Depending on your vocational track, many churches don’t put too much credit in a Bible College degree. Let me know if that helps.

  8. toney sauls says:

    My high school history teacher once told me that education would allow me to utterly insult someone and they would thank me as if it were a compliment! While I believe there is truth in that, I hardly believe that is the goal of education.

    Sometimes when I try to ponder the mind of God and envision his creativeness and sheer brilliance in creation, I wonder about all the things we as a race have discovered (not to mention what was lost with the mass death of the antediluvians), and all the things yet undiscovered. For example, in a span of just 100 years, we went from a powered flight-airplane built out of bicycle parts (the Wright bros. were bicycle makers) to sending craft to planets other than our own. What will we have learned and accomplished at the end of this century? However, I digress.

    For me, the primary goal of education is to learn and obtain what one does not and possibly would not know on one’s own and to further cultivate knowledge-gathering skills. There is a vast treasure trove of information out there left by those that have come before us – the goal, as far as I am concerned is to collect it and redistribute it. Be a sponge and soak it all in, ring it out and start again! Always be ready to give an answer, not just for the reason we believe, but also for anything!

    We are learners at what is perhaps the most prestigious seminary in the world and we sit under the most learned men in their respective fields of study – we should take advantage of every hour we are in the classroom and inundate professors with questions, so that we might be better teachers ourselves.

  9. Adam Brown says:


    That’s pretty much how I’ve pictured it. It just seems that with many of the same great teachers at Boyce as at Southern it may be too much overkill. I can see if one were pursuing a position at an est. local church it could be beneficial. I also think about how this is the one time in my life where I will be right here in Louisville by this great seminary and might look back years later and kick myself because I didn’t take advantage. I appreciate your input, Thanks!

  10. toney sauls says:


    the “e” in my name is not a typo!

    glad i could help.

  11. If we are keeping this within a Christian worldview, I would say that the goal of education–a seminary education–is to know God in a deeper way than we ever thought possible. Not only that, but to be able to articulate what we are learning to those who might not be called to a seminary education. We should never get prideful in our attending arguably the best seminary on the planet. We should be humbled to know that God has called each one of us to this particular institution in order that we may more effectively carry the gospel into the world in order to bring the gospel to the lost.

    It is so easy for us to get caught up in the post-modern debates and the conservative vs. liberal debates when the bottom line should always be our seeking to glorify God through our education. We should approach our education with the understanding that we will only be “jacks-of-all-trades and master-of-none.” In other words, God is infinite and we are not. Sure, we can become “masters” of a specific topic, but we must never become puffed up with our knowledge.

    Therefore, I would say the goal of education is to be humbled by the knowledge that we have not even began to scratch the surface of the knowledge of the things of God. We should also seek ways to apply our knowledge. We cannot stand in ivory towers and expect people to listen to our knowledge if we are not willing to get in the trenches. Some of the best preachers I have met and heard barely graduated high school (if they did at all). They simply knew what God had done in their lives and wanted to share the glorious gospel with anyone who would listen. You don’t usually hear these preachers on the radio or see them on the television which will be the “fate” of most of us who graduate seminary–even the venerable Southern Seminary.

  12. P.S. I agree whole-heartedly with TonEy! (I just wanted to show that I did not forget the “e,” bro!)

  13. Adam Brown says:


    Actually I was replying to tonY Kummer from an earlier string of conversation. I mean no disrespect and apologize for the confusion.

  14. toney sauls says:


    thanks for the kudos (did i just say kudos?).

  15. tonEy,

    Yes you did say “kudos” but the question is can you remember when that was a candy bar? Hopefully, I am not dating myself here.

  16. Tony Kummer says:

    Toney – sorry, I live have a very Kummercentric worldview. We definitely should do our best at Seminary. That has been one benefit for me as a slow-timer. When I take 2 classes per semester I can usually do all the work.

    Adam – how much longer do you have at Boyce? Many of the smart guys that went there with me worked ahead and took some more advanced courses. I did Hebrew & Greek and it was much better in the 2 semester format.

    Terry – I really appreciate your word on humility. The effect of gaining knowledge should humble us at the infinite wisdom of God.

  17. Adam Brown says:

    I am a transfer. This is my first semester. Depending on how my hours turn out, I should be about halfway done now. It will probably be a little shy of halfway though. I got an Associate of Div. from Mid-America in Memphis before coming here. Thanks for the advice.

  18. Doug Smith says:

    On a related note, have you read Mohler’s recent article on education: http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=1026

    QUOTE: Martin Luther once warned Christians with these words: “I greatly fear that schools for higher learning are wide gates to hell if they do not diligently teach the Holy Scripture and impress them on the young folk.” The great Reformer knew of the importance of Christian education and the development of Christian thinkers, but his great fear of schools as potential “wide gates to hell” is all too justified.

  19. Tony Kummer says:

    Doug – Great quote. I think Luther would have been an awesome blogger!

  20. Santiago says:

    The goal of every earnest educator is to indoctrinate their students in their worldview through the information they present for retention. Any book or computer can retain information, but it takes a disciple to use the information as the instructor intends.

    The goal of an earnest student is to submit himself to the instruction of the instructor. If he encounters a worldview in the classroom that is contrary to a worldview he has been taught, he must choose a worldview. As such, he must either reconcile if possible, reject one or the other or understand the difference in the usage of the information he is presented.

  21. We only need one more “Tony” of some sort and then we can start our very own band: Tony Toney Toni!

    *runs and hides*

  22. Tony Kummer says:

    Santiago – Teaching is sometimes as much about the relationship as it is about the information. Good point. Otherwise we would all be reading books in our own little caves!

    Stephen – I had enough of that in High School. People either used a mafia voice or sang that song when they said my name. No wonder I have the gift of mischief.

  23. Tony Kummer says:

    Doug – It’s almost like Dr. Mohler read our blog! Except he probably wrote his article a week ago – and thought of it 3 years ago.

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