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Education for Human Flourishing Explores Integration of Theology and Philosophy in Education

May 5, 2010

Prof. Paul Spears gives unique perspectives on faith and learning

While most educators focus on learning strategies and provide how-to approaches in education, Torrey professor Paul Spears and alumnus Steve Loomis focus on the theory and reasoning behind education. Education for Human Flourishing: A Christian Perspective explores the philosophy of education and worldview integration in learning.

Spears and Loomis see education as a foundation to thrive in God and knowledge.

Flourishing as a human being in Spears’ term means understanding our role in God’s created order and pursuing His purpose. Education takes part in the process of flourishing by focusing on the actions and reasons for learning instead of the skills or status acquired through education.

As educators interested in how philosophical commitments drive educational theories, Spears and Loomis created the book by approaching the subject uniquely through representing their philosophy on education in their classroom lectures and interactions with students.

“He and I are kindred spirits in terms of our desire to see educators begin to think about how fundamental theological and philosophical principles should ground the discipline of education,” said Spears. “We need to be helping educators understand how their beliefs about the world, which are often tacit, influence how they go about the task of education.”

According to an interview with the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the idea for the book came through Spears’ conversations with philosopher and Biola professor JP Moreland.

“We have had numerous discussions about philosophy of education,” said Spears. “We agreed that it was our fundamental duty as professors to teach our students that a fully-orbed intellectual life was an integrative one.”

He believes the integration of knowledge and faith provides a complete understanding of how to live life, and insight from worldview integration help to better understand the world and human condition.

As assistant professor in Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute, Spears describes in the interview how his observations on the integration of faith and education at Biola influenced many of his ideas presented in the book.

“I want our students to understand what the implications of an intellectual life dedicated to following Christ looks like,” said Spears. “Students who may be able to perform very well academically, often find solace in their educational abilities, but our students need to come to grips with the fact that, as humans, we are so much more than just well trained minds.”

He sees that the students at Biola are able to grasp that idea in the Torrey program and other academic programs that emphasize integrating faith and education.

Loomis, a graduate of Biola Talbot School of Theology and associate professor of education at Wheaton College hopes the book will provide a deeper understanding of the issue. He shares his concerns on how people see standardization and regulation of education as a reflection of a successful education.

“Lost are the more longitudinal concerns and the long recognized intercultural first order goods of human development and flourishing; standardized examinations became near the sole criterion of educational success,” said Loomis.

Biola’s Christian Apologetics program brought the topic to life in a special lecture opened to the public on April 26, 2010 at Calvary Chapel. Professors Moreland, Fred Sanders, John Mark Reynolds and Craig Hazen presented their philosophical and theological views on enriching wisdom and faith.

The lecture focused on the ideas presented in the book, specifically drawing attention to the exploration of philosophical and biblical ideas on education. Spears and Loomis hope the book will lead people to transform the practice of education by understanding the need for educational learning and spiritual growth.

The full three-part text interview with Paul Spears from the Evangelical Philosophical Society can be read online.

EPS Spears Interview

Moreover, listen to Spears’ interview with Ken Myers on the Mars Hill Audio Journal.

Spears on Mars Hill

Written by Jennifer Thach, Media Relations Intern. Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at

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