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SCL Movement Leadership Distinctives, Part V: A Multi-Generational Vision

By February 27, 2024No Comments

A Multi-Generational Vision

Considering the insightful reflections shared by Andy Crouch and Mortimer Adler on the nature of impact and the foundational truths underlying CCE, it becomes evident that our mission transcends immediate outcomes. This enduring perspective leads us to the heart of our next exploration: the multi-generational vision that propels classical Christian education forward.

In a world captivated by the immediate, we are called to sow seeds for a harvest we may never see, to cultivate wisdom and virtue not just for today, but for generations to come. This week, we delve deeper into why and how this vision not only guides our present efforts but ensures the legacy of classical Christian education endures, fostering communities of flourishing individuals for decades to come.

With this in mind, we must stay fixed on a multi-generational vision. As has been noted, God often uses bursts of activity, focus, and engagement, what we call movements, to awaken His people and ignite change. However, the way of the kingdom is mustard seed faithfulness over generations. There are no hacks, so we should be cautious about the allure of virality. The kingdom is not ushered in, as both Addison and Crouch argue, through things like charisma, money, or power. These shortcuts were offered to Jesus to subvert the slow path of bottom-up life change that comes through the embodied message of the gospel. The same work that is being done every day in our classical Christian schools.

It is right to desire the expansion and reach of classical Christian education. The educational options available to so many families are bleak. We want to create broader access to transformative education, and the Great Tradition has what our culture needs. Spencer Klavan says, “…when it comes to the fundamental questions we are now facing, the answers that we find through the great traditions are saner and clearer than the options presented to us by modern gurus.” We need the wisdom of the past to navigate the complexities of the present. We also need to be diligent to take the good we have been given and steward it well. Yet, we must do this with a proper orientation to our work as believers and as inheritors.

In 1922, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.” There is an ebb and flow to human experience, as Chesterton notes. Generational clashes are inevitable, and movements tend to cycle alongside generational trends.

And yet, despite changing cultural variables, there is a persistence and transcendence to the vision of classical Christian education. In Werner Jaeger’s summary of Socrates’ teaching, he states, “The real essence of education is that it enables men to reach the true aim of their lives.” The classics invite us to struggle with the true aim of our lives – human flourishing. By doing so, they make us better human beings. If we want flourishing communities, regardless of where we live or what particular challenges we face, we will work toward forming people who are fulfilling their purpose to serve God and work for the good of others. This is an eternally viable and relevant endeavor. By aiming at developing wise and virtuous human beings, we are best poised to bring shalom to our world regardless of the relative popularity of our work.

Classical Christian schools aspire to establish thick institutions anchored in truths that endure through every passing age. The institutions are guardians and physical manifestations of the transcendent ideas they embody. They are led by those who possess the conviction that the permanent things are worth preserving. They are not as concerned about scale and impact, so much as they are remaining immovable in their generational vision. Again, it was Chesterton who said, “Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.” Perhaps, by standing athwart history in this way God may raise up saints who sow the seeds of another kind of movement.

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* This article is part of a series on SCL distinctives and the CCE movement. Read the last installment here.

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