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The Phoenix Consultation: Making a Case for an Education Revolution

The Roman Catholic Church was educating believers to become priests in Monasteries, Cathedral schools and universities. 

Martin Luther’s insight into “Priesthood of all believers” began the modern world of universal education. 

Luther was already in a university. Following him, Zwingly began teaching the Bible daily. A priest was no longer a magician. He was more like a Jewish Rabbi.  Zwingly’s Bible teaching grew to become the University of Zurich. Calvin’s Geneva Academic became what is now the University of Geneva. John Knox, Andrew Melville and their associates made Scotland, the world’s first educated nation. 

In 1832, the state took over the education that Luther and Zwingly had begun. Gradually, the American doctrine of separation of church and state began to mean separation of knowledge and truth, skills and character. Education now plants the “tares” into the fields where God was sowing wheat.

In 1792, Charles Grant's “Observations” saw India as a continent of darkness. He argued that light is the true cure of darkness. Therefore, the Church must educate India. That inspired 19th century missionaries such as William Carey and Alexander Duff to begin discipling India by educating the youth. Now, sadly, the Great Commission has been reduced to telling Gospel stories to unreached people groups. The idea is that “God wants all men to be saved and go to heaven” NOT that “God wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2: 4).

Phoenix Consultation is intended to initiate an education-revolution that makes education the preparation of for “Priesthood of all believers.” Everyone must hear God’s call and prepare himself/herself to serve God by doing their best. This revolutions needs to equip every church to offer 21st century digital education, making available to the poor as well as the rich, high quality, accredited, affordable, learner-centric education to make give to the coming generations future-ready leaders. 

We will all bring our prior understandings and misunderstandings, commitments and passions to Phoenix. Most of us have been damaged by the unwitting conspiracy of secularism and Dispensationalism to undermine the church. Many church leader will fight to preserve their lazy life-style - “education is not our responsibility.” That burden belongs to the parents and the state.” 

We will disagree with each other. Some of us will have hard time listening to those who disagree with us. However, the Consultation is not intended to celebrate diversity. It is meant to unite us into a network with a common vision. But our mission has to be God’s call. We have to rely on Him to speak to our hearts; for His word to liberate us from the prejudices inherited from theological environment of our church and para-church groups.

We have to ask: Is the Lord asking us to work together in order to disciple nations, making His enemies His footstool?

Even if not every one of us can get involved in a common mission, can we articulate a vision that we can endorse? Can we offer suggestions on how to get started in terms of priorities, Network structures etc.? Can we commission a team to lead the church to obey this call?

By Prof. Vishal Mangalwadi

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