The National Institute for Christian Education is a postgraduate training institute for the cause of Christian education. Although its key focus is to help school teachers develop in their capacity to educate from a biblical perspective, the Institute also works with the other members of school communities–parents, administration staff, board members, and students as well as the broader community.
Through a third party agreement with Morling College Ltd (MCL) the National Institute offers fully accredited postgraduate education courses to students around Australia and the world. Studying with the Institute, educators can work towards a MEd, MEd(Leadership), or GradDipEd that is shaped by a biblically grounded philosophy of education.
The courses are offered online with virtual classes of students around Australia and the globe relating via forums and with a qualified lecturer. The Institute also offers supplementary face to face seminars to assist students in the distance learning process. Assessment is made through assignments that have direct applicability to the students’ day to day pedagogical and leadership tasks.
The National Institute however, is more than a provider of postgraduate education programs. It is the repository and guardian of the intellectual capital of much of Australia’s Christian education–the fruits of scholarly endeavour in the cause of Christian education for over fifty years. Although there is a national office and resource centre, the Institute is spread throughout the national and international Christian education community. Qualified lecturers, tutors, and educators are located around Australia and in various parts of the world.
Alongside Christian Education National (CEN), the National Institute produces resources; publishes books and a journal; develops and delivers courses for professional learning; facilitates an educators’ professional body (Christian Educators' Professional Association); contributes to educational debate; encourages educational research; and engages in tertiary collegial interchange.
The National Institute is committed to helping people to think, act, and teach in ways that take serious the public truth of the Christian gospel and its implications for all of life.
The National Institute has a strong biblical statement of belief which affirms the historic doctrines of the faith. Being an educational institution, however, the National Institute is particularly interested in what the biblical narrative teaches about knowledge, humanity, creation, and culture.
We believe that all knowledge comes from God or as Arthur Holmes put it, “All truth is God’s truth” . God is good to all and enables all kinds of people to discern truth from engagement with His creation. We therefore honour learning and insights from a range of sources. We also believe that the true, coherent meaning of knowledge is only found in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Bible. Furthermore we believe that in our natural state people suppress the coherence of knowledge found in Christ and worship a god substitute. The ultimate faith in humanity is a common example.
We believe that human beings have great dignity due to their creation as God’s image bearers; that we were created to develop and care for the world God made; to reflect God’s character and to be in relationship with Him. We believe that humanity has rejected this relationship, image and task and, in seeking to be God, we have disowned our dignity and become enslaved to falsehood. We believe that this image is perfectly restored in the historic person of Jesus and progressively in those committed to Him.
We believe that creation is all that exists apart from God and that everything was created according to God’s will and that it was “very good”. Although God’s hand can still be discerned in the order and beauty of creation, the world is not as it was meant to be. Because of human refusal to submit to God’s authority and rule as His representative, the creation has been given over to frustration and groaning. We believe, however that creation is still loved by its maker and is being restored through the obedient sacrifice of Jesus. We look towards and teach in the light of the new creation.
We believe that human culture is a part of God’s creation. The inherent dignity of humanity is that we have the task of ordering God’s world as we develop culture. In our natural state, despite God’s sustaining goodness, we develop culture in disobedient ways, reflecting the worship of god substitutes. And yet as part of God’s creation, we look towards the renewal of culture and seek to engage with it in the light of God’s ordering purposes as our minds are progressively renewed in the likeness of Jesus.
These biblical beliefs guide our scholarly endeavours as we exercise our task as a rigorous tertiary education institution. We acknowledge that our best efforts are tainted with compromise and ignorance and yet we are bold to proclaim that the National Institute seeks to celebrate the Lordship of Christ over all creation as we engage with the whole of the Bible for the whole of life.
Holy Scripture and Education
By faith we confess the books of the Old and New Testaments to be the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God (2 Tim 3:16-17), the only absolute rule for all faith and conduct, and therefore also for the education of our children at home and at school.
Christian Parents and Education
As believing parents we have Christ's comforting assurance for our children that theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven and that He will bless them when we bring them to Him (Mark 10:13-16).
Expecting fulfilment of His promise and obeying the command of His apostle, we endeavour to bring our children up "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:4).
Since the responsibility for this task has been placed on our shoulders as parents we gladly accept responsibility for that part of education which takes place outside our homes in the school.
We consider the establishment of Christian parent controlled schools, which are to assist us in the work of Christian nurture and education, to be our duty and God-given privilege.
As Christ is the Saviour and King of the whole of human life (Matt 28:18; Eph 1:20-22; Col 1:16-17) we understand a Christian school to be an educational institution in which Christ is not only honoured by prayer and study of the Bible, but all subjects are taught by the light of God's revelation in Jesus Christ contained in the Old and New Testament.
For such Christian schools we as parents claim all freedom in the field of education so long as this education takes place in obedience to the requirements of God's Word and in adherence to legitimate governmental standards and provisions.
Some Doctrines Fundamental to Christian Education
Believing all the truth revealed in the Word of God we wish to emphasise some doctrines which are of special importance for Christian education. They are:
(i) God and Creation
All things were created by God so that "what is seen was made out of things which do not appear" (Heb 11:13). God created them in, through, and for Christ (Col 1:15-17) by His Word and Spirit (Gen 1; Ps 33:6), to the glorification of His Holy Name (Ps 8; Ps 19; Rom 11:36). It is also by God's hand, power, and care that all created things are preserved and controlled (Ps 99; Matt 6:24f; Acts 17:24f). In order to understand the world, man, and history, they must be seen in their relationship to God as the Bible speaks of it.
(ii) The Bible and Science
Creation as well as Scripture has been brought forth by the same God of truth. Therefore, any seeming discrepancy between the Bible and science can only be due to human error either in science or in the interpretation of Scripture. Science is truly scientific when both nature and Scripture are taken seriously.
Man was created in the image of God to enjoy true communion with his Creator (Gen 1:26f; Acts 17:26f).
Man was instructed to exercise dominion over the world in strict and loving obedience to God, to interpret all reality in accordance with His design and law and to reflect in his person and works the excellence of his Maker (Gen 1:28f; Ps 8:4f; Rom 1:20).
By disobeying God's law and forsaking his office, man estranged himself from God and his neighbour and brought God's curse upon himself and upon all creation (Gen 3:16-19; Rom 8:19f). He became also blind to life's true meaning and purpose, misuses his knowledge and abilities, adheres to man-centred philosophies, and makes himself false gods of his own imagination and desires (Rom 1:18f).
Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, is God incarnate, the Word become flesh (John 1:1-14).
Laying down His life for His sheep (John 10:10-15), He paid the price of sin for them, being a ransom for all who truly believe in Him (Matt 20:28; Rom 5:6f; 1 Tim 2:5-6).
Having risen from the dead in His physical body (Luke 24:36-43) and ascended to the throne of Heaven, He is the King of the universe (Matt 28:18; 1 Pet 3:22). By His Word and Spirit He rules in grace over all true believers. Redeeming their lives in entirety, renewing them after His image and restoring them to fellowship with God and their fellowmen, He makes them obedient to God's will in all spheres of life (Rom 8:1-17).
(vi) The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity (2 Cor 13:14), the divine source of all created life (Gen 1:2; Ps 104:30), is also the source of faith in Christ, of true, spiritual knowledge, and of a new sanctified life in grateful obedience to God's will (John 3:3f; 1 Cor 2:9f; 12:3; Eph 3:14f).
Since, therefore, the fruit of all Christian education depends on the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit, both parents and teachers are to perform their task with constant prayer that the Spirit may enable them to be good instruments in His hands for bringing the children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and that He may so bless their work that the children come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal saviour and master, whom to follow and serve in all spheres of life is their greatest privilege and joy.
The National Institute for Christian Education is passionate about Christian education. It recognises that a majority of Christian educators in Australia are trained in undergraduate teacher training institutions that have an alternate worldview towards life, purpose, success, the nature of a child, the nature of the teacher, and the nature of schooling. The National Institute believes it has an important role in providing ongoing professional development and postgraduate study in the distinctives of Christian education to all teachers in Christian schools and other contexts.
To provide Christian teacher education and educational support for school communities with a particular focus on Christian Education National associations.
In pursuing our vision, the Institute has four mission goals which provide the framework for guiding development. They are:
- Providing Christian teacher education
- Facilitating school and curriculum development
- Articulating and nurturing a biblical worldview
- Encouraging critical and biblical thought in the area of education
The Early Years
By 1991, Christian Education National recognised that if Christian Education National schools were to retain their distinctiveness, their teachers would need to receive training that reflected the reformational worldview stance of the movement. The new institute, the National Institute for Christian Education, came under the direction of the Christian Education National Board with the National Council of Institutes for Christian Education having oversight of the shape and philosophical perspective of the Institute's activities. Underwriting financial support for the infant Institute came from Christian Education National.
In 1996, the National Institute for Christian Education worked with ICTE to form the College of Christian Higher Education Inc (CCHE) for the purposes of obtaining joint accreditation for courses through the NSW Department of Education.
Under the principalship of Dr Doug Blomberg, and aided by Dr Stuart Fowler, and Dr Ian Lambert, Institute student registrations by 1998 had reached over 70 student units per annum in CCHE accredited courses with dozens more in nonaccredited professional development. Dr Blomberg and Dr Fowler wrote key units of work, with Mr Geoff Wilson, Mr Andrew Schmidt, and Dr Lambert providing strong lecturing support. Teaching predominantly was by distance education.
The Turn of the Century
In January 1999, Dr Richard Edlin was appointed principal of the National Institute for Christian Education. A number of initiatives were introduced leading to a steady increase in enrolments in the accredited programs. Some of the activities in which the Institute was involved were:
- The joint organisation of conferences such as the Transforming Conference (FOCUS) and parent vision conferences
- Inter-organisational scholarly exchanges
- Support of Christian teacher education initiatives in several overseas locations
- Publication of a quarterly professional journal (Christian Teachers Journal), a biennial book and a number of other resources in various formats including MP3 and DVD
The National Institute for Christian Education maintained a vibrant nonaccredited short course program that provides biblically authentic professional development to hundreds of teachers, parents, and board members each year across Australia and abroad. Where appropriate, studies completed in these activities can be used to support applications for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or Professional Development Units (PDU) into the accredited programs.
The National Institute for Christian Education, at the request of member schools which have a desperate need for envisioned teachers, embarked on strategic cooperative initiatives with groups such as public universities in Perth and Sydney and private groups such as the Wesley Institute, Macquarie Christian Studies Institute, and the Masters Institute in Auckland to contribute to some undergraduate and pre-service training courses for people interested in teaching in Christian schools.
In 2001, Dr Ken Dickens was appointed as a full-time senior lecturer. From 2003–2007, Dr Rod Thompson undertook a number of roles involving both full-time and part-time lecturing with the Institute. Dr Geoff Beech joined the Institute staff as a part-time lecturer in 2005.
The National Institute for Christian Education became a legal company at the beginning of 2004, to enable it to meet the requirements of an agent under the new NSW DET accreditation/registration regulations as a consequence of the NSW Higher Education Act, 2001. This legal status established a Council as the legal controlling entity of the Institute (a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee) with Christian Education National Ltd as the sole company member.
In 2007, the National Institute for Christian Education began migrating its courses online through a Moodle based online learning portal. Increasingly, the online portal has become the source for such things as student discussion forums, lecturer student interactions, required readings, and other course materials.
At the end of 2008 Richard Edlin resigned to pursue a private consulting practice. Ken Dickens took over the principalship of the Institute and Geoff Beech became academic dean. Chris Parker also joined the lecturing staff with special responsibilities in strategically considering all forms of online communications including the online learning portal. Chris spent 12 years previous to his appointment teaching at Nepean Christian School. After more than 30 years of service at Tyndale Christian School (including 19 years as deputy principal) and a number of years as adjunct lecturer with the National Institute, Dr Charlie Justins concluded his role with Tyndale Christian School and joined the Institute as senior lecturer. Other adjunct lecturers (normally school-based in various locations around Australia) have included Sue Barter, Christina Belcher, Caroline Blake, Melissa Brown, John Denning, Dr Jill Ireland, Dr David Jackson, Dr Charlie Justins, Allan Long, Dr Samson Makhado, Dr Fiona Partridge, Dr Andrew Schmidt, Don Taylor, Geoff Wilson, Dr Lindsay Graieg, Narelle Sketcher, Simon Matthews, David Gray, Peter Muddle, Miriam Lili, Chris Prior, Linda Hampstead, and Jacqui Stok.
In 2009 the National Institute for Christian Education strengthened its organic association with Christian Education National by co-locating with the national office and renewed its emphasis on school based professional development. In 2009 the National Institute for Christian Education became a teaching agent of Morling College and subsequently now has a third party arrangement with Morling College.