Why Should We Teach Government?

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In a recent email exchange, David Yoder asked, “What would be your response to a student asking about why we as an Anabaptist, largely non-politically involved, school teach Government?”

Below is a selection of responses.

If we understand how our government functions, we can appreciate the amazing work, sacrifice, etc., they put into the work God called them to do.

We can also teach them that the government is not the only entity that God has established.

He also created the church for his glory, and we should be passionate about it.  And give our life for his eternal mission.

–Austin Shenk
  1. Informed respect and prayer
  2. Determine our responsibilities relating to the law
  3. Helps us better understand current social problems and tensions
  4. Laboratory for examining human behavior
  5. Develops critical thinking skills
  6. Understanding how government policy affects the economy allows for informed business decisions
  7. Understanding how the past informs the future (the historic part of studying government)
–Darren Fox
We asked that question several years ago, and are working to answer it. Below I’ve excerpted some of the goals that I would highlight as being key motivations for us. I’ve gone from feeling like it’s a required course that we creatively try to redeem to feeling like this is an essential course that I would want to require regardless of state regs.

We are getting ready to run this for the first time next semester.

Course Goals

Upon the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify, summarize, and embrace the Scriptures that are key to understanding God’s design for civil government. (Unit 1)
  • Compare, contrast, evaluate, and appreciate various forms of government and their associated economics systems. (Unit 2)
  • Appreciate the breadth and complexity of governmental systems. (Units 2-4)
  • Identify key terms and ideas associated with government. (Units 1-2)
  • Describe the principal provisions of the US Constitution. (Unit 3)
  • Describe the roles and functions of national, state and local government. (Unit 4)
  • Develop a Biblical framework for dealing with questions relating to the following: (Unit 5)
    1. My duty to my community, to my nation, and to humanity as a whole
    2. My expectations from my government, and my response if these expectations are not met for myself or for others
  • Operate Biblically within any country or locale. (Unit 5)
Unit 1 Goals–Bible Survey (excerpted)

Students will be able to

  • Analyze how the Bible
    • views civil government and its
    • expects and/or instructs God’s people to interact with government
  • Formulate a Scripturally defensible view of God’s design for civil government
Unit 2 Goals–Political Science (excerpted)

Students will…

  • Recognize the validity of non-Western (non-American) perspectives relative to government.
  • Understand the inadequacy of a simplistic view of government.
  • Appreciate the breadth and complexity of governmental systems.
Unit 5 Goals–Being a Christian Citizen (excerpted)

Students will be able to…

  • Identify the opportunities/challenges that Christians may face in various forms of government
  • Identify the priorities that motivate a Christian citizen.
  • Craft a course of action consistent with these priorities on current or theoretical situations that call for decision.
–Arlyn Nisly

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