Knowledge

The Reformation did not start in church, but in school. LutherĀ“s world changing action began with an academic event when he published his 95 scholarly theses. The renewal that transformed Europe was brought about not with cannons, but with words. Even words in Latin.

Transforming people, transforming a society, transforming structures starts with the intellectual effort of presenting new ways of viewing the world. And that is most effectively done through education. So it is not surprising that the reformers called upon politicians to take measures for better education and encouraged parents to send their kids to school. It is not surprising that Philip Melanchthon eagerly worked on reforming universities and wrote numerous new textbooks. It is not surprising that the majority of the famous French Academy of Sciences were followers of John Calvin. Ignorance was seen as one of the essential causes of poverty, the spread of disease, wars and religious fear, and education was seen as the most effective weapon against all of this. Nor does it surprise that the council of Trent as the catholic response to the Reformation also initiated an educational reform.

Transforming through education.

The re-valuation of other sciences rather than just theology led to an impulse of the study of the natural sciences and to new discoveries changing the lives of millions for the good. Knowledge combined with the value of freedom inspired not only an intellectual but also a cultural flourishing, and that is evidenced both by the protestant Rembrandt and the catholic Rubens.

Essential

The insight that education is essential for good politics, an orderly society, and human flourishing was picked up by friend and foe and so countless schools, colleges and universities popped up in the sixteenth century, student numbers grew and the printing and sale of books just exploded. A reading culture grew rapidly and created enormous learning possibilities for children and teenagers. Combining the values of freedom and responsibility with the natural desire to acquire knowledge can make life better today just as much as it did in the Reformation era, for it is quite significant that this world changing movement started at a university.

Access

It cannot be true that now that we have such an easy access to a nearly endless amount of information, we at the same time see that knowledge and craftsmanship are on the decline. Lack of knowledge of for example historical facts, cultural heritage, international diversity and of political and economic developments, gives space to the destructive forces of radicalism and hedonism.

The Coram Deo Program is based on the conviction that knowledge creates understanding, that knowledge promotes righteousness, that knowledge inspires economic growth, academic research and ecological awareness. Good education, accessible information and inspiring teachers: not much more is needed to bring about great change.

 

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