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Book review: Educating for Eternity

Kermit Netteburg

 

The Adventist Review called George Knight “probably the most pro- lific author since Ellen White.” He has written more than a dozen books on Adventist history and more than a dozen books on New Testament and theological topics.

In Educating for Eternity, Knight returns to his original scholarly roots— the philosophy of education. The slim volume—it is only 150 pages including indexes, footnotes, and bibliography— sets out to define a unique path for Adventist schools in the twenty-first century. And the book succeeds.

Knight is at his best reducing com- plex topics to simple concepts, albeit often expressed in sentences at least as complex as the topics. (One paragraph in Educating for Eternity has only three sentences, but they are 26, 33, and 31 words long. The sentences would be a grammarian’s delight!)

In this book, Knight explains metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology—and does it in a 19-page first chapter. Those three concepts form the basis of Knight’s prescription for Adventist education. He wraps an Adventist metaphysical view of the world in a description of the great controversy theme that would be understandable to a non-Christian. There are uniquely Adventist teaching methods and values to shape his vision of an Adventist school.

Knight then adds five chapters about how to implement these principles in Adventist schools. He begins with a focus on the stu- dent, then talks about the teacher. Discussion of curriculum, teaching methods, and the school’s function in the society are held for later. Knight describes Adventist educa- tion as Jesus-oriented teachers helping shape Jesus-oriented life decisions made by students. It is a wholly useful perspective. The interaction between student and teacher is the heart of Adventist education. I spent almost 25 years teaching, and my students remember me far more than they remember specific assignments and content.

Pastors will find the book useful in two ways. Reading the book will help pastors develop a stronger vision of what Adventist education can be as a partnership between schools and churches and homes. Viewing a church school as a partner in ministry provides the only basis for a successful Adventist school, and the book is a great asset for a pastor who wants to do that. The book also includes “Points to Ponder;” thought questions at the end of each chapter. They would make great discussion starters for a group read- ing this book. For example, consider a church board planning to start a church school. The board reads a chapter or two before each board meeting, then dis- cusses the “Points to Ponder” questions, and creates a clear mission partnership for the school and the church. —Reviewed by Kermit Netteburg, PhD, a retired church pastor, Adventist educator, and administra- tive leader residing in Maryland, United States.

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