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From "integration" to "integrity": a model of teaching and research in Australasian contexts

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Drs. Geoff and Elizabeth BEECH (BEECH) have been missionary educators in Bolivia for over 20 years. Elizabeth is currently the Academic Dean of the National Institute for Christian Education in Australia. Geoff works as a lecturer and then Academic Dean of the National Institute for Christian Education, and serves as a senior adjunct professor since his retirement. He co-authored with Elizabeth many articles, including: “Research as the Unhiding of God’s Knowledge” (2016), and “A Redefinition of Leadership: What on Earth did we Think We Were Doing?” (2018).

Both Beth and Geoff work together searching for a new model of integration which goes beyond mere integration of faith and learning, adding upon it the biblical concept of faithfulness. The so-called "integrality model" is an attempt to reclaim in Christian worldview a proper place for God with His ownership and purposes for the world. They argue for the need to redefine the biblical concepts of faithfulness and knowledge attainment. “Faith” should be seen as the unhiding of God-owned truth within a common grace context. An integral teaching and research model needs to be built to demonstrate its place in God's ownership and for His purposes. The incorporation of two distinct entities: Faith and Academic Pursuits or practices is discussed and reconsidered.

For instance, “Faith”, “Knowledge” and “Integration” are redefined. “Faith” is not defined as a blind hope, but as one of allegiance to Jesus the King. As faithful Christian scholars, we must ask ourselves whether we have been faithful to the gospel. In redefining “knowledge”, BEECH point out that Christian knowledge should not be considered as a separate realm of truth or reality. As all truth is God’s truth, there is no conflict between God's truth and other truth. In regard to integration, the integrationist approach takes it as a battle between paired opposites, seeing truth in black and white terms. But BEECH see it not as bringing together “faith and academe” as two incompatible entities (such as oil and water mixture), but rather as truth derived from the Bible and biblically grounded truth revealed in God’s creation. Hence, instead of an integrationist approach the proposition is made for an integrality approach.

BEECH expounds the need to re-purposing academe by a faithful teleology. With the establishment of the source and ownership of all things pertaining to academe, the purposes of integration involve five aspects, namely: “reclaiming”, “unhiding”, “redeeming”, “relating”, and “inspiring”. “Reclaiming” refers to a primary task of the Christian scholars to reclaim the truth for God, i.e. God is the source of all truth. “Unhiding” is the unhiding of God in Christian scholarship, especially in reference to God’s creation, his character and his purposes. “Redeeming” refers to the urgent need to redeem secularism which has denied its own religiosity, and to save biblical and Christian worldview from being kept out of public square, including education at all levels. “Relating” is the recognition of the relationships between man and woman, between humankind and the creation, including God the creator. “Inspiring” refers to the acceptance of the Holy Spirit as the revealer of all things, which inspires both teachers and students and draws them into God’s truth. In addition, we need to develop a Christian faithfulness perspective in our academic research, so that all research would become a theological pursuit with the explicit purpose of unhiding God’s truth in order to actively apply it in love to his beings and his creation.

In conclusion, BEECH proposes an integrality model. This model considers God to be the source of all truth and acknowledges this acquiesce to his purposes for unhiding his truth by reclaiming it from secularism and other religions for redemption and restoration. Teaching and research as the tools for unhiding the knowledge of God, must flow out of a biblical understanding of epistemology, andragogy, and a recognition of our students and ourselves as co-allegiants made in God's image. Our teaching and research do not, therefore, stand awkwardly and dualistically in two kingdoms but are claimed to be one King and one Kingdom. This represents integrality of thought and purpose as we faithfully seek to fulfil our God-appointed roles as academics in God's grand drama.


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