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A Biblical Model:

Learning How to Learn


Living on the Earth


Diane Rodd

Considering the topic, "The Psychology of Learning in Education," one central image comes to mind with myriads of thoughts, words, pictures, examples and scenarios darting in and out of my awareness. For me the central image is Jesus with the word learn inscribed inside of His heart. The Biblical record clearly demonstrates that the heart or center of learning is Jesus Christ as revealed by the Holy Spirit bringing glory to Father God. Therefore the goal of this paper is to introduce a learning model which is based solely on a relationship with Jesus Christ, His teachings and His example: "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me" (Col 1 :28-29 NASB ).

Learning How to Learn

Families Honoring Christ

"But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart
and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

Earl & Diane Rodd
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Phone: (330) 305-9318

1st edition - May 2005

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FHC is an Ohio based ministry providing information, encouragement
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Unless otherwise noted, All Scripture quotations are from the

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Learning How to Learn

As I have pondered course 830 entitled, The Psychology of Learning in Education, one central image comes to my mind with myriads of thoughts, words, pictures, examples and scenarios darting in and out of my awareness. According to Tony Buzan, "Combining the two cortical skills of words and images multiplies your intellectual power" (Buzan & Buzan 1994, p. 84). For me the central image is Jesus with the word learn inscribed inside of His heart. However, my goal is not "intellectual power" but the power of Christ. The Biblical record clearly demonstrates that the heart or center of learning is Jesus Christ as revealed by the Holy Spirit bringing glory to Father God. Therefore the goal of this paper is to introduce a learning model which is based solely on a relationship with Jesus Christ, His teachings and His example: "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me" (Col 1 :28-29 NASB 1 ).

A theosophical learning model, founded on Old and New Testament scripture, relies upon illumination and illustration coming to human beings through a relationship with the Holy Spirit. This process of learning establishes one major principle based on the independent evidence of Jesus Christ uniquely revealing Himself to those created "in Our image according to Our likeness" (Gen 2 :26). The unfolding work of the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to a human being leads to the ultimate goal of relational learning : to know Father God as Abba Father (Rom 8 :14-15; Gal 4 :6; John 17 :3). The affiliation of sonship in relational learning differs from an evolutionary humanistic hypothesis which proposes to draw a conclusion or inference about human learning based on human-centered, self-referential assumptions rather than upon the absolute evidence from God Himself ( hypothesis Noah Webster, 1828). I coined the term relational learning to describe the intimate reciprocal kinship Father God desires to enjoy with every individual human being.

When researching learning how to learn, I chose to examine human beings as the Creator reveals, defines, and describes in the Bible rather than investigating human-centered theories arising from the bias of Darwinian evolution. Nicolas Wade's review of a work of Thomas Kuhn, a theorist and historian of science, states:

"Logic and experiment, says Kuhn, are not sufficient: 'The competition between paradigms is not the sort of battle that can be resolved by proofs.' In fact the transfer of allegiance from one paradigm to another 'is a conversion experience that cannot be forced.' The grounds for conversion may include arguments that 'appeal to the individual's sense of the appropriate or the aesthetic,' and faith that the new paradigm will be better able to resolve the anomalies that precipitated the crisis....The emphasis of Kuhn's thesis is that logic alone cannot be decisive in a choice between theories" (Chittick, 1998, p. 141).

Charlotte Mason (1925/1989) boldly states her position on the use of logic and reasoning in educational pedagogy:

We should teach children, also, not to lean (too confidently) unto their own understanding because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration of (a) mathematical truth and (b) of initial ideas accepted by the will. In the former case reason is, perhaps, an infallible guide but in the latter is not always a safe one, for whether the initial ideas be right or wrong reason will confirm it by irrefutable proofs.

Therefore children should be taught as they become mature enough to understand such teaching that the chief responsibility which rests upon them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas presented to them. To help them in this choice we should afford them principles of conduct and a wide range of fitting knowledge (139).

Therefore the Old and New Testament will be used as the sole authoritative source for learning how to learn rather than trusting in human logic and reasoning. Human authors will be used, however, to verify compliance with Jesus or to demonstrate the deception of the deviation from His teaching and His example. This review cannot be accomplished without reference to God, the Holy Spirit and to God, the Father. The goal of this paper is to present a perspective of human learning that concurs with Biblical revelation, corresponds with human experience, and harmonizes with some recent scientific experimentation, observation, and published results: "The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1Tim 1 :5).

The subjective nature of learning, the uniqueness of every individual person, the intrinsic nature of the human soul (mind, will and emotions), the inherent mystery of the human spirit, the unsurpassed intricate design of the human body (brain), and the nebulous immaterial existence of human thoughts, all conspire to keep a learning theory an enigma but a conundrum that progressively points towards the Creator's magnificent design revealed in a human being.

Thus, John E. Hull's (2003) assessment of the literature on school reform confirms the difficulty of an academic treatment of education and school reform, that is Christian learning. He discovered:

When Christian educators step back from their own work and direct their attention toward the literature on public school reform, they cannot help but be overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of it. The vast and conflicting viewpoints contained in these writings resist comprehensive analysis (217).

Consequently, this paper proposes that the Biblical revelation of Jesus Christ provides not only solid historical evidence but also establishes a perfect paradigm which allows the examination and discussion of the human dynamics of learning how to learn. Christ's personal experience as a learner, His explanations of that process as a teacher, and His achievements in the material and immaterial spheres of reality are unequalled in human history, and yet John, one of his disciples, recorded Jesus' desire for those who believe in Him: "Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall He do also; and greater works because I go to the Father" (John 14 :12). The human rejection of Jesus and the refusal to learn as He learned may be the reason why educational establishments (Christian and non-Christian) often fail to provide reforms that foster and maintain the mental health and wholeness of western society. The consistent refusal to submit to the Creator-Redeemer explains the propensity of modern science to readily employ its knowledge and new discoveries to further secular humanism. Mason (1925/1989) prophetically declared:

There is a tendency in human nature to elect that obligations of natural law in preference to those of spiritual law; to take its code of ethics from science, and following this tendency, the Germans found in their reading of Darwin sanctions for manifestations of brutality (3).

Learning is Relational

Even though Relational Learning is extremely fluid, it is not inconsistent. The following outline provides a short descriptive categorization of what this paper proposes:

  1. Learning is Relational
  2. The Historical Record of Relational Learning
    1. In Our Image according to Our likeness
    2. Relational Learning Short Circuited
    3. Relational Confusion in Learning
    4. Fear in Relational Learning
    5. Unlearning the False
    6. Refusal to Discern and Learn Relationally
    7. Made in Our Image and According to Our Likeness
    8. Godly Emotion
    9. Thoughts and Emotions in Relational Learning
  3. Repentant Relational Learning: Unlearning to Learn
    1. Relational Learning and the Human will
    2. No Excuse
    3. Thought Exposure in Relational Learning
    4. The Presence of Fear in Relational Learning
    5. The Presence of Love in Relational Learning
  4. Jesus Christ's Relational Learning or Secular and Religious Tradition?
    1. Restful Relaxation in Relational Learning
    2. Relational Learning with Father God
    3. Release (Freedom) in Relational Learning
    4. The Extent of Father's Love in Relational Learning
    5. Transcendent Freedom in Relational Learning
    6. Radiance in Relational Learning
    7. Learning through Listening in Relational Learning

The Historical Record

The overarching characteristic of learning how to learn as revealed in the Bible is learning's relational aspect. The Genesis account clearly demonstrates the original perfection of the human ability to learn relationally as well as records the subsequent damage this perfect spiritual-mental capacity experienced (Gen 1-11).

In Our Image according to Our likeness

When the Lord God, Creator and Father, breathed His own breath of life into the nostrils of a lump of dry earth-dust (Gen 2 :7), He was fashioning the first human being "in Our image according to Our likeness" (Gen 1 :26). Even though this image of God and likeness to the Creator would not be complete until both male and female were introduced to each other, the Genesis account reveals that the breath of God deposited an immaterial essence into the dust and that immaterial essence changed the material from being lifeless to possessing life (Gen 2 :7). This created being, given the immaterial breath of God, is called nephesh [5315] 1 in the Hebrew which means a soul, a being, the life, the self, the person . However, nephesh also means desire, passion, appetite and emotion. Thus when the first human beings were created "in Our image according to Our likeness," those living beings, these very persons were also endowed with desires, passions, appetites, and emotions that were the same as their Creator and Father. Thus the original couple with material (dust) bodies possessed immaterial desires, passions, appetites, and emotions as well as life. The Creator deemed His design and accomplished work as "very good" (Gen 1 :31). Relational Learning between the Creator and the created occurred in a perfect environment called The Garden of Eden (Gen 1 :8). It was here in this garden designed as a place on earth where the Lord God sovereignly choose to manifest His presence so that the Creator and the created could walk and talk in an intimate fellowship (Gen 3 :8). The first couple were mature adults, who had much to learn concerning their shared responsibility on the earth:

God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen 1 :28).

Relational Learning Short Circuited

When the serpent deceived the female person into doubting her true identity, made in the image and likeness of her Creator and Father, by logically proposing the forbidden source of knowledge, then a chain reaction began that caused many short circuits in the human ability to learn relationally as God designed and still prefers. Therefore the Biblical model of relational learning seeks to overcome these short circuits by continually remembering, reintroducing and reinforcing God's original plan of sonship to understand the very essence of a human being created in God's image and how a human is designed to learn:

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph 1 :4-6).

Even though sin 2 may mar and even eclipse the hidden image and likeness of God in a human being, God's ultimate intention for "many sons" must always remain the perspective from which a Christian learning model arises (Heb 2 :10). A theosophical learning theory founded on scripture as given to human beings by the Holy Spirit can establish principles based on the independent evidence of God Himself revealing Himself to those created "in Our image according to Our likeness" (Gen 1 :26). Even though many scientists who examine the process of human learning may reject the Biblical path of knowledge as immaterial and non-existent, there are others who acknowledge the immaterial essence of human beings. Jeffrey M. Schwartz (2002), an American psychiatrist and a leading researcher in brain dysfunction, has discovered and accepted the existence of the immaterial through Buddhist meditative principles evidenced by observable positive changes in human beings suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorders). His research to discover the power latent in the human free will pits him against the basic tenets of modern science. Dr. Swartz (2001) states:

Wrestling with the mystery of mind and matter is no mere academic parlor game. The rise of modern science in the seventeenth century--with the attendant attempt to analyze all observable phenomena in terms of mechanical chains of causation--was a knife in the heart of moral philosophy, for it reduced human beings to automatons. If all of the body and brain can be completely described without invoking anything so empyreal as a mind, let alone a consciousness, then the notion that a person is morally responsible for his actions appears quaint, if not scientifically naive. A machine cannot be held responsible for its actions. If our minds are impotent to affect our behavior, then surely we are no more responsible for our actions than a robot. It is an understatement to note that the triumph of materialism, as applied to questions of the mind and brain, therefore makes many people squirm. For if the mysteries of the mind are reducible to physics and chemistry, then 'mind is but the babbling of a robot, chained ineluctably to crude causality,' as the neurobiologist Robert Doty put in 1998 (52).

The fascination of Dr. Swartz with "the ancient Buddhist concepts of mindfulness and karma" provided him with the stimulus to "explore emerging evidence that matter alone does not suffice to generate mind, but that, to the contrary, there exists a 'mental force' that is not reducible to the material" (52). However, those who know and enjoy restored relational learning and fellowship with Father God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Jesus Christ, discern the difference between the immaterial (spirit, soul) and material (body) and look to the Creator of humanity, not a fellow human being (Buddha), for understanding how human beings actually learn.

Relational Confusion in Learning

The Old Testament doesn't reveal the duration of the perfect fellowship between the Creator and the first couple, but it does adequately reveal the change Adam underwent when he willingly submitted to the voice of his wife (Gen 3 :17), and a new immaterial experience entered into the emotions of the first human couple. Adam describes his new information this way: "I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself" (Gen 3 :10).

Until this moment in human history the man and his perfectly designed mate had learned only as the Creator God had ordained: in perfect love, wonder, and agreement with the One who gave them life. When the first human couple chose to learn from another created being whose communication was dialectical, but diametrically opposite to God's instructions, mankind's ability to learn suffered deep damage and fracture, and the whole human race became susceptible to a learning disability that has been passed down through each successive generation. This was the beginning of the human battle with fear , a negative emotion that often blocks the joy and excitement of relational learning with Father God.

Fear in Relational Learning

A modern English noun that better defines the initial human experience of fear would be panic : "a sudden, unreasoning, hysterical fear that spreads quickly and leads to irrational, aimless action" (Webster, 2001). Adam's panic-attack caused him and his wife to hide from the One they once lovingly embraced in Spirit-led fellowship and worship.

Learning through independent sense knowledge (seeing, touching, and tasting the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) injected self-awareness into the human perception. Adam described this new information explosion as nakedness . His misdirected free-will choice to learn apart from the Creator and his new self-assessment quickened God's inquiry: "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" (Gen 3 :11).

This chain reaction of learning incorrectly from another created being should not be ignored by Christian educators. The Creator's use of the relative pronoun "who" demonstrates that information was originally transferred in a personal relational setting. The question: "Who told you?" implies that the information transferal came through another being whose voice was not that of Father God.

Even though the proponents of evolution continually resist the wedded state of the material and immaterial in a human being, those who have been born from above have access to Father God through His Holy Spirit and through Jesus Christ (John 3 :1-8), and this relationship of fellowship imparts a wisdom that surpasses the machinations of anti-Christ learning theories.

Paul, the author of over two thirds of the New Testament epistles, describes this transfer of wisdom as a specific relational learning experience with the Holy Spirit that is contrary to that found in the world:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual {thoughts} with spiritual {words.} But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man (1Cor 2 :12-15).

In another letter Paul explains this humble process of learning in relational emotive terms ( Father, family, love ) and uses bow to imply submissive worship. The merger of learning, family, and worship is not an earthly image but is one that originates from the Kingdom of God. In the same passage Paul also selects the word power and love to signify that this kind of relational learning is beyond the capacity of mental knowledge : "exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think" (Eph 3 :20). The emphasized words in this passage demonstrate the connection between worship of the Creator and relational learning between Father God and a human being that is transcendent:

For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; {and} that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever (Ephesians 3 :14-21).

The last sentence of this passage distinctly reveals that there is a relational learning experience with God that is beyond the mental understanding of the secular evolutionary psychological realm of knowledge. The power, the love, and the learning are immaterial and undetectable to sense knowledge but can be comprehended. The comprehension resides in a dimension of experience that scientists who are steeped in evolution find hard to affirm.

Christians who elect to follow the world and its learning theories always fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3 :23 2 ). Thus human beings consisting of the immaterial (spirit, soul) and the material (body) need to understand that worship, fellowship and an intimate relationship with Father God was and is the true essence of learning correctly. Jesus explains relational learning :

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4 :23-24).

When a learning relationship with God as the inerrant Designer is perfectly and confidently embraced and restored, then unlearning the incorrect becomes an integral and continual process of life on earth. Because learning theories have ignored and thus denied the efficacy and efficiency of Christ as the quintessence of the learning process, unlearning the false is a major constituent of a Biblical learning model.

Unlearning the False

Learning incorrectly is an exposure to knowledge through (spirit, soul, or body) that doesn't come from the sanctioned sovereign will of God. If someone or something other than God teaches the person an incorrect exposure of self which is not approved by God, then that learner, like Adam, moves into fear and dread, the anticipation of something disagreeable (Webster, 1828).

The first human couple had been disrobed and raped, and from that experience of debilitating loss they were no longer able to perceive correctly the One who created them. The reality of exposure in the material realm actually introduced or produced the fear and dread, an immaterial irrational internal experience and that is why the Lord God addressed the exposure first. '"Fear occurs before you know what you're afraid of"' "as researcher Joseph LeDoux explains it" (Restak, 116). Fear will be explained later, but for now it is imperative for Christian educators to understand from the Genesis account that the Lord did not lay blame or shame on either the woman or the man for the human failure to reject learning from the wrong source. The original negative emotion was fear/dread not blame/shame. Not only did Adam and his wife point to a creature outside of themselves as the source of their downfall, but God Himself also declared the serpent as the root cause of the learning problem:

The Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel (Gen 3 :14-15).

Even though most of Christendom abhors the idea that the serpent-devil is the major causal factor in the propensity of man to choose unwisely, the Lord God Himself says that the devil was the root cause of man's first violation of his God-given free-will choice. To refuse the Creator's good, perfect, and acceptable will is the seat of all evil and injustice, but it is not a choice that is solely dependent upon humanity. Jesus came to explicitly reveal and overthrow the lawless anarchy of an unseen immaterial kingdom that desires to dominate and destroy God's creative design known as humanity. This truth is explained very simply by John in one of his letters:

Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He [Jesus] is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1John 3 :7-8).

Ruth Beechick attributes behavioral psychology and evolution as deceitful fellow travelers walking down the broad path that leads to death and devastation:

Lenin realized how great an ally he had in this system of thought. It would help in his struggle against religion. So in his time, Pavlov's behaviorism became the official Soviet view of psychology. The English speaking world followed. In America, John Watson was the first great behaviorist. He was both philosopher and psychologist and felt that concepts such as morality and justice were merely superstitions left over from a pre-scientific age. They would fade away when we learned how like a machine --or a bird--man is. Watson's counterpart in England was Ernest Jones, a follower of Freud. Jones thought that any hope of future evolutionary progress rested on whether man could give up belief in mind (29).

Even though evolutionary scientists, behavioral psychologists, and secular humanists may not yet be ready to admit to the existence or activity of satan as a significant element in human learning, there is a present trend in neurology to accept the immaterial (mind) as substantive in human experience, and this step into Biblical reality confirming the human mind and free will lends credence when establishing the Biblical model of relational learning. The highlighted words are pertinent to relational learning :

Modern neuroscience is now demonstrating what [William] James suspected more than a century ago: that attention is a mental state (with physically describable brain state correlates) that allows us, moment by moment, to 'choose and sculpt how our ever-changing minds will work, [to] choose who we will be in the next moment in a very real sense...Those choices are left embossed in physical form on our material selves.' If James was speaking metaphorically, he was also speaking with almost eerie prescience. For it is now clear that the attentional state of the brain produces physical change in its structure and future functioning. The seemingly simple act of 'paying attention' produces real and powerful physical changes in the brain. In fact, Stapp's work suggests that there is no fully defined brain state until attention is focused. That physical activity within the brain follows the focus of attention offers the clearest explanation to date of how my hypothesized mental force can alter brain activity. The choice made by a patient -- or, indeed, anyone -- causes one physical brain state to be activated rather than another. A century after the birth of quantum mechanics, it may at last be time to take seriously its most unsettling idea: that the observer and the way he directs his attention are intrinsic and unavoidable parts of reality (Schwartz and Begley, 2002, 18-19).


The modern scientific discovery of the power of focus substantiates the Genesis account: the serpent-devil convincingly persuaded the first woman to move her focus of relational learning from the Creator to the created. Paul, the inspired author of two-thirds of the New Testament states: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (Rom 1 :25). With the help of God's archenemy, human beings have been eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil without knowing or understanding that this source of knowledge was forbidden and is still forbidden.

Now that Schwartz (2001), Restak (1994, 2001) and others have catalogued scientific experiments to prove that human beings are not machines, robots or computers, it is time for Christian educators to boldly break with the theory of learning based on Darwin's theory of evolution that is the antithesis of the Genesis record. For Restak the brain itself generates all that a person ever needs and is the seat of "insight that occurs outside of conscious awareness." This phrase in context demonstrates the difficulty this neurologist has in accepting a personal learning relationship with his own Creator. The emphasis in the following quote are mine:

Use your feelings as a stimulus for internal exploration. And don't hurry the process, despite the discomfort you may be experiencing. Remain confident that your brain will provide you with the answer that you are seeking. Often this may involve a sudden insight that occurs outside of conscious awareness. Remember that conscious processing is only a small part of the work done by the brain. The majority of the brain's operations do not require consciousness---indeed, as mentioned earlier, too much reliance on running everything through consciousness may work as an impediment rather than a stimulus to further insight. Learn to trust your brain (Restak, 2001, 168).

In contrast to Restak's reliance upon the brain (material) Paul's revelation clearly states that it is God (Spirit) that gives revelation or insight about Himself and ourselves that is "outside conscious awareness." Paul reveals that prayer, a dependency upon the Creator-Redeemer, is necessary for the transferal of truth: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him (Eph 1 :17). Relational learning with the Creator may not be an option for evolutionary scientists, but relational learning must be the foundation for an educator who claims to be following the example of Christ and Paul (Heb 6 :12).

The relational reality of a Creator who has a predetermined plan and design for humanity that existed before the foundation of the world and extends far beyond the end of this present age is never given any consideration by those who have to stay within the confines of Darwin's theory of evolution to explain the process of learning (1Cor 2 :7)) . Yet the biblical revelation consistently verifies that man is spirit, soul, and body and that God is personally involved in the restoration and completion of His design: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass" (1Thes 5 :23-24). It is God that must be trusted, not the human brain.

Human beings, created in God's image, are more than a brain or a mind in a body. Father God Himself is intensely concerned and personally involved in every aspect of the design that He created "in Our image and according to Our likeness (Gen 1 :26). Every person whether God is acknowledged or ignored is comprised of the material (body {not only the brain but all that comprises the body}, and the immaterial (soul {mind, will, emotions}, and is also an entity that the Biblical revelation refers to as spirit. From the very beginning of human existence as understood in the ascending order of creation, God places human beings higher than the animals (Gen 1 & 2). It is the theory of evolution itself that limits the psychology of learning to the level of the animal kingdom and thus thwarts educational pursuits to understand learning. However, in spite of the evolutionary bias neuroscience is coming closer to Biblical revelation. The emphasis in Restak's (1994) quote is mine:

This inner sense of exerting a mental force against a feeling of inner resistance was later described by an anatomist, Alf Brodal, after his stroke: 'Subjectively, [this] is experienced as a kind of mental force, a power of will ....It is as if the muscle was unwilling to contract, and as if there was a resistance which could be overcome by very strong voluntary innervation.... This force of innervation is obviously some kind of mental energy which cannot be quantified or defined more closely (Restak, 1994, 37).

The scientific community's acceptance of such subjective observations without quantifying proof arises from those whom they respect as authoritative sources of information. These educated scholars, scientists and doctors steeped in evolution have suffered brain injury through accident, surgery, or stroke. Their own personal trauma has caused them to reevaluate their own scientific training and theories of learning that are based on the theory of evolution. However, most are still unable to research the Biblical record for the definition of the immaterial energy force. Relational learning accepts the role of God the Holy Spirit as the one who guides into all truth (John 16 :13).

According to Paul's revelation, the material (brain) is more suspect than the immaterial (spirit):

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2Co 4 :16-18).

Behavioralists who deny the reality of the immaterial (spirit) or Gnostics who reject the value of the material (body) are both pervasive perversions in western culture that thwart the Designer's schematic for successful learning even in Christian endeavors. Therefore Christian educators must not only examine the Biblical revelation as God unfolds human identity but must also explicitly and consistently trust and boldly proclaim that the Biblical revelation of relational learning from the Lord's point of view is more valid than evolutionary psychological learning theories.

The serpent-devil's advice which is always contrary to God's counsel has to be consistently exposed, refuted, and then ignored (Jam 4 :7). When doubts of sonship arise and revelational understanding gained from a personal spirit-to -spirit relationship with the Creator seems unsubstantial when compared to secular humanistic criteria, standards, and paradigms, Jesus teaches us to say, "It is written, it is written, it is written" (Mat 4 :1-11).

Refusal to Discern and Learn Relationally

After the original couple dipped into information ejaculated from the wrong source, the human learning curve descended into violent behavior. When one of the sons of the first couple refused to listen to the Lord's perfect counsel of love and correction during a worship experience, he rejected God's direct involvement of redeeming fellowship and thus thwarted God's design of relational learning :

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not {your countenance} be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it"( Gen 4 :6-7).

According to the Lord God Himself the immaterial emotion of anger was a stepping stone that could lead to an overt change in the material experience. God expected the material experience to be controlled by a victorious free-will choice in the immaterial realm. It is obvious from this interchange that the son's relationship with God was unimpaired by his parent's disobedience to God. God and Cain shared an intimate personal relationship, but Cain's willingness to learn from God is hindered by his desire to think and do as he chose (the will). The connection between thought, choice, and behavior is the inherent dilemma of a Biblical model of learning: Those who refuse to learn from Father God cause immeasurable harm to others, as well as harm to themselves. The chain reaction from initial anger, to refusal to listen and learn from the Lord God, to murder, the most extreme form of violence, shows the superior power of the immaterial choice (the will) over the material (the body). If Cain had listened to God and continued to listen to Him to learn how to conquer the immaterial emotion of anger, his material body may have escaped the humiliation of committing the first violent disloyal act in human history, fratricide.

Even though Cain's parents did not lie to God when confronted with their nakedness and fear, the downward spiral of errant learning chosen by Cain reveals the essential character of the serpent-devil interfering with Cain's thought patterns. Cain's response to the Lord's involvement through specific questions of accountability concerning his wrong emotion and his dominion over his own behavior exposes the serpent-devil's schemes: lying to deceive ("I don't know."), begging the question ("Am I my brother's keeper?"), and destroying God's earthly worship, fellowship and relationship with another fellow human being (murder). Cain's response: "Am I my brother's keeper?" discloses his internal choice away from filial care and concern: God's nature of love expressed in a family relationship.

Cain's anger towards God and his brother, Abel, was exposed during family worship. During worship Cain became aware that his ritual sacrifice was not pleasing to God. God chose this moment in human history to explain that the immaterial heart attitude of a human being is more important to Him than a material sacrifice:

but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not {your countenance} be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it" (Gen 4 :4-7).

Sin is falling short of God's glory by refusing to embrace the Father's will with faith, love, trust and confidence (Rom 3 :27; Heb 11 :6;). According to Jesus Christ, Father God looks for those who worship Him with two specific requirements: in spirit and in truth (John 4 :23-24). Cain's heart relationship with his brother and with God needed a Divinely tuned adjustment, and His loving Father God came during family worship to assist him in mastering that which wanted to destroy him. Relational learning with Father God is the only place on earth where truth can be discovered and embraced purely, but the way of Cain is still a learning problem for billions today.

The ignominious descent and departure from relational learning with the Creator eventually resulted in the Lord's perfect assessment of the human predicament: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen 6 :5). God's intentions and the intentions of those made like Him no longer found any common agreement. The Hebrew word for intent is yetser [3336] which means a form, a framing, a purpose. The goodness of God (love) was no longer a simple free-will choice at this point in human history.

Made in Our Image and According to Our Likeness

Because human beings are created "in Our image according to Our likeness" thoughts and heart are a shared immaterial essence of both Creator and humanity. The Genesis account reveals the Lord's change in thought patterns about His own past decision and behavior as Creator:

The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And the Lord said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them' (Gen 6 :6-7).

The Hebrew word translated "sorry" is nacham (5162) which not only means to be sorry but is also translated as regretting, relenting, repenting, changing one's mind, or consoling or giving comfort . This inspired word choice reveals that God's immaterial thoughts concerning a situation are not immutable and that He is willing to initiate an action or behavior in the material realm to bring Himself internal consolation. This change is indicative of the same mental and emotional process in those who have been created in "Our image according to Our likeness."

Godly Emotion

Another phrase in this same passage unveils a second similarity between God and humans in the immaterial realm. Verse six states that Father God "was grieved in His heart." This description reveals that God's heart can possess an emotion called grief. The Hebrew word atsab [6987] is used by Asaph in Psalm 78 to describe, chronicle and explain God's emotion of grief. The emphasis is mine:

How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary (Psa 78 :40-42).


By not remembering God's power which He uses to redeem human beings from the evil schemes and strategies of the adversary (serpent-devil), human beings inflict pain not only on themselves and others but also on the Holy One. Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet, also reveals that it is the Holy Spirit in the heart of Father God who feels intense emotional pain over the rejection and rebellion of His children. Words are highlighted in the following passage to emphasize the description of God the Holy Spirit's desire for relationship and the depth of His emotional experience:

But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit ; therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them , who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble; as the cattle which go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So didst Thou lead Thy people, to make for Thyself a glorious name. Look down from heaven, and see from Thy holy and glorious habitation; where are Thy zeal and Thy mighty deeds? The stirrings of Thy heart and Thy compassion are restrained toward me. For Thou art our Father , though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not recognize us. Thou, O Lord, art our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Thy name (Isa 61 :10-16).

When Brand and Yancey (1987) agree with the Biblical revelation that God (Father, Creator, Redeemer, Holy Spirit) and human beings share emotional immaterial likeness, they daringly disagree with man-made misconceptions about God:

Such careful documents as the Anglican Communion and Westminister Confession declare that God is "without body, part or passions." Can a God without passions feel our pain? Admittedly theologians over the centuries have largely concluded that God does not feel passion or suffering. Early Christian theology, thrashed out in a Greek intellectual environment, held that such qualities as movement, change, and suffering distinguish humans from gods. God is apathos, or apathetic, with no disturbing emotions whatever. Bible passages describing God as angry or grieved or rejoicing were dismissed as anthropomorphic or metaphorical.

Yet, here is a strange thing: if someone with no background in philosophy and theology simply picked up the Bible and started reading it, he or she would find a startling different picture. The Bible gives overwhelming emphasis to God's passionate involvement with creation. It is virtually a catalog of His emotions in relating to humanity. From creation onward, God places Himself in the position of an anxious Father who has let His children go free (281).

Two verses accurately record God's specific words concerning the learning-understanding deficit of the human race and reveal the connection between immaterial knowledge (heart repentance) and health (physical and mental):

'Go, and tell this people: "'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Lest they see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed' (Isa 6 :9-10).

All four gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) inspired by the Holy Spirit record Jesus quoting this passage from Isaiah and thus validating Isaiah's intimate learning relationship with Father God as well as substantiating the symptoms of humanity's learning malady and its remedy: turn back to God. Repentance, a heart turning back to Father God, as Paul describes it, shows the necessity of God's personal involvement in helping human beings experience God's superior thoughts, emotions and behavior:

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to {the point of} repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to {the will of} God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to {the will of} God produces a repentance without regret, {leading} to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death (I Cor 7 :9-10).

Thoughts and Emotions in Relational Learning

According to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the heart is the immaterial part of a human being where thoughts and understanding occur. The example of Cain verifies that a human being made in the image of God, though impaired by original sin, is still able to discern God's voice and relationally learn directly from Him. Paul explains the intense immaterial battle that rages within the thoughts or minds of human beings:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. {We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete (2Cor 10 :3-6).

Paul, like the Creator, makes it clear that "every thought" is to obey Christ. The human battle with thoughts and emotions that lead to behavior is won in a learning relationship with the ONE in whose image humanity has been created.

Although human beings and God share the emotions of grief, anger, and sorrow, man's emotions, unlike God's, cause harm and distress to many. For example, the sons of Jacob experienced grief and anger over Shechem's rape of their sister, Dinah (Gen 34 :7). These immaterial emotions and thoughts then led to lying and deceit by using the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision as a ploy to weaken the men of Schechem (Gen 34 :13-17). The immaterial emotions of grief and anger were not neutralized, counterbalanced, or eradicated correctly, and the revenge of Dinah's rape led to the murder of all the men who were incapacitated by the rite of circumcision (Gen 34 :25-27). In this anecdote the same emotions and behavior of Cain, one man, occurs with a group of men. Thus immaterial emotions and thoughts can be easily communicated to fellow human beings and precipitate a shared material experience that produces detrimental plans and behaviors that harm others. The connection between thoughts, emotions, words and violent behavior is observable in every segment of our society, but the remedy of a change in thought patterns through relational learning with God Himself may be considered by many as a theosophical invalid absurd proposal.

The life of Joseph, one of Jacob's twelve sons chronicled in the Old Testament, provides further insight concerning the immaterial emotions of grief and anger. After Joseph reveals himself to his brothers as the one whom they had sold into slavery thirteen years earlier, he demonstrates an important principle concerning the power of grief and anger to turn personally inward as well as outward toward another: "'Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life'"(Gen 45 :5). This inward destructive force of grief and anger turned against one's own self for making a wrong choice is extremely important for changing behavior through relational learning with the Lord. This tendency to turn anger inward is also revealed in Jonathan, the son of King Saul, when he refused to eat at his father's table (1Sam 20 :31-34). Thus immaterial emotions and thoughts can be personally directed inward to cause self-harm as well as outward to harm others. Therefore whenever wrong thinking, wrong emotions, and wrong behavior have to be replaced, it is very important to give the Lord freedom to do as He wills.

An Old Testament prophet, Samuel, reveals an important aspect of the Lord God's viewpoint concerning the heart and behavior: "The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you (King Saul) have not kept what the Lord commanded you" (1Sam 13 :14).

When David, a shepherd boy, finally became the second king of Israel just as God had indicated, he experienced rebellion within his own family, just as the Lord God has experienced throughout human history since the Garden of Eden. David's grief and that of Father God's seem remarkably similar:

'Behold, the king is weeping and mourns for Absalom.' And the victory that day was turned to mourning for all the people, for the people heard {it} said that day, 'The king is grieved for his son.' So the people went by stealth into the city that day, as people who are humiliated steal away when they flee in battle. And the king covered his face and cried out with a loud voice, 'O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!' (2Sam 19 :1-4).

However, David's immaterial emotions differ from the Lord's in that human grief produced an observable material negative effect on the people: one man's grief blocked or stifled their joyful celebration of victory. A similar effect of group grief occurred when Ezra read God's word to an assembled people. Nehemiah's counsel to Israel at that time reveals that human grief not properly processed causes a debilitating effect of weakness:

Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest {and} scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, 'This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.' For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, 'Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.' So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, 'Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.' And all the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them (Neh 8 :9-12).

According to the Biblical record grief and anger in the immaterial emotional nature of a person or a group can be a blockage to learning and understanding that leads to inappropriate responses or behavior. A Biblical learning model must not only acknowledge the power of immaterial emotions to change behavior in an individual, but it must also rectify the influence of the immaterial emotions that one person may have in a group situation.

The antidote to grief, the immaterial emotion of joy, causing strength or energy to a material human body may be difficult to substantiate in a scientific laboratory, but the Biblical revelation is consistent and valid. The very essence of the Kingdom of God, "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14 :17) are internal immaterial real states of conscious awareness that Father God desires for human beings to possess. (Isa 61 :3). The spiritual essence of joy is found in the very presence of God in a deeply relational learning experience that occurs alone or with others in this present material world and yet coincides with God's spiritual kingdom that is an unseen reality. The following verse reveals the connection of joy to relational learning in God's presence now in this life and in a life that extends beyond into eternity. David states: "Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever" (Psa 16 :11). Jesus reveals the connection between earth (material) and heaven (immaterial) when repentance, a change of thought and behavior, occurs with human beings on earth and is experienced by angels in heaven: "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15 :10). Paul reveals that the immaterial emotions of joy, peace, faith, and hope are shared states of existence between the Creator and humanity: "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15 :13).

Another New Testament writer Jude not only focuses on Jesus Christ in relational learning for success in this life and in life that is beyond time, but he speaks of "great joy" in this learning process that implies various degrees or levels of joy:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, {be} glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 1 :24-25).

A heart and mind that possesses thoughts and emotions (negative and positive) is just the beginning of a God-centered view of learning and behavior. The Hebrew word for "thoughts" machashebah [4284] reveals a strong connection between God and human beings created "in Our image according to Our likeness." It carries the concept that thoughts are actually devices, plans, purposes, designs, schemes, plots, and inventions . Because of the present mixture of good and evil in the human personality, the plans, purposes, designs, thoughts, and inventions of human beings are often contrary to those of God, but the Biblical record reveals that even the good plans and thoughts of human beings can be directly opposed to God's perfect plans and thoughts. Jesus teaches the basic principle of relational learning : "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt 7 :21). The will of the Father and His timing are always the first priority in the Biblical model of learning exemplified by Jesus.

Repentant Relational Learning

Unlearning to Learn

The Apostle Peter is an excellent example of one who learned and unlearned directly from God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son. In a revealed interchange between Jesus and Peter, learning from the Father is confirmed and assessed by Jesus as a place of blessing. Peter's thoughts were good or right because Peter's thoughts came from the Father:

He (Jesus) said to them (disciples), 'But who do you say that I am?' And Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal {this} to you, but My Father who is in heaven' (Mat 16 :15-17).

When Jesus says: "flesh and blood did not reveal {this} to you," Jesus is including Peter himself. Thus Jesus' words reveal that Peter's immaterial thoughts came from some source other than Peter's own brain or mind. Jesus says Peter's thoughts came expressly from Father God Himself, and Peter needed to know they weren't his own thoughts. Jesus also teaches that receiving thoughts from Father God is a place of blessing or happiness.

However, when Peter's words were contrary to the Father's will, Jesus spoke directly to the source of Peter's error: satan. Jesus confirmed and assessed that Peter's thoughts were bad or wrong because Peter's thoughts came from satan and were centered on man:

From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'God forbid {it,} Lord! This shall never happen to You.' But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's (Mat 16 :21-23).

This scenario also shows that Peter's immaterial thoughts came from some source other than Peter's own brain or mind, and again Peter needed to be reminded that these thoughts weren't his own thoughts. The significance of this passage reveals that satan's thoughts and human thoughts can be intermingled. Satan's thoughts in Peter's mind caused Peter's mind to focus on man rather than on God. This is the essence of secular humanism in learning theories that are based on evolution: they are inspired by satan to bring focus on man rather than on God. Christian educators have to allow the Holy Spirit to expose this human focus in our thinking on every level of learning theories so that our thoughts can align with God's concerning relational learning that promises true success.

Another time when Peter's thoughts were contrary to the thoughts of Father God, Father Himself spoke directly from heaven to remove Peter's mental blockage:

He [Jesus] was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!' (Mat 17 :2-5).

The example of Peter verifies that relational learning not only acknowledges the central position of the Creator, but it must also acknowledge the need to foster an environment so that the Redeemer-Deliverer can reveal Himself and expose the adversary's errors. Relational learning must not only accept that Father God speaks within a person but it must also accept that Father God may choose to speak externally from heaven to correct errant thinking. The acceptance of the direct personal extremely intimate intervenation of God in relational learning is a paradigm shift of major proportion for all educators, Christian and non-Christian.

The word translated "transfigured" (Matt 17 :2) is the Greek word metamorphoo [3339] and is translated "transformed" in two other places. The highlighted words and use of parentheses in the following passage have been added to clarify the concept of relational learning with the Creator and the three dimensions of a human being, spirit, soul and body:

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies (includes the brain) a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual (spirit) service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (soul), that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12 :1-2).

When Jesus was "transfigured" and also when the human brain and mind are "transformed" and aligned with God's thoughts, there is a change in molecular structure that may not yet be detectable by scientists but is very real to the one who experiences such a relational learning experience. Paul, an apostle who encountered the ascended Christ, enjoyed the same earth-heaven relationship link as many still do today, for Paul never knew Jesus in his earthly (material) body as Peter did.

Paul describes his past behavior as Saul, a "blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus" (1Tim 1 :13-14). Saul experienced a transformation by encountering the ascended Jesus on earth in a spiritual experience that affected Saul's entire being (spirit, soul, and body). Anecdotal evidence "based on personal experience or reported observations unverified by controlled experiments" is not noteworthy to most neuroscientists (Webster, 2001). However, Saul's subjective experience which is called "a testimony" had witnesses and involved others who observed the change in Saul's thinking, words, and behavior. Luke's account of Saul's transformational experience thoroughly chronicles the dynamics of relational learning. The highlighted words indicate the transformation that comes to an individual when the Creator-Redeemer is encountered personally:

Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' And he said, 'Who art Thou, Lord?' And He {said,} 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do (Acts 9 :1-6). '

Luke's account also describes the events that those who accompanied Saul simultaneously experienced:

The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. And Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank (Acts 9 :7-9).

Saul and his entourage were totally set against the plans, purpose, and design of Father God at this point in human history. Saul's thinking, emotions, and behavior were not in agreement with God's. When Saul experienced a very bright light and heard a voice that was outside of himself, Saul was not pulling some new awareness out of his unconscious mind or will. All that happened to Saul was totally against his own will. Saul and his friends were intent on murder, but suddenly they all: "heard a voice but saw no one." This experience is very similar to that of Peter when he heard a voice out of heaven concerning the significance of Jesus Christ above Moses and Elijah. Saul received not only specific direction for the rest of his life, but he also was given true confirmation to his unusual experience:

Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, 'Behold, {here am} I, Lord.' And the Lord {said} to him, 'Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.' But Ananias answered, 'Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon Thy name.' But the Lord said to him, ' Go , for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake' (Acts 9 :10-7).

This conversation between Ananias and the Lord is an accurate example of relational learning. Ananias' will, like Saul's and Peter's, was not in agreement with the Lord. Neither Peter nor Paul nor Ananias could change their perception of reality without the intervention of the Lord Himself. Thus Ananias had to have a change in his thinking (repent) so that he had the ability to do as the Lord required. When Ananias' thinking was aligned with the Lord, whom he loved and recognized, Ananias had the love and power to obey and serve one who had the religious and civil authority to throw him into prison and have him killed. The change in will and in the emotions is obvious in this discourse, and the change in behavior is just as obvious:

Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened (Acts 9 :17-19).

In the Biblical model of relational learning there is a basic principle that is also the basis in most courts of law: Facts to be taken as true should be confirmed by two or three witnesses (Isa 43 :10-13; Matt 18 :16; 2Cor 13 :1). Saul had witnesses in his entourage who personally observed his transformation through a vision and a voice. Ananias at a distance was given a play-by-play description of the same event. Ananias' addition to Saul's experience shows the superiority of relational learning : It is not dependent upon any human agency, but it does require human cooperation and participation that enjoins the human will after thoughts have been changed. Subsequently Saul's transformation affected others:

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he {began} to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.' And all those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, 'Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and {who} had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?' But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this {Jesus} is the Christ (Acts 9 :19-22).

The loss of physical sight must have also been a trauma to Saul's whole being. His inability to eat or drink for three days may have been due to the godly sorrow (grief) and true repentance that he was experiencing over his religious zeal (serpent-devil) that was diametrically opposed to the loving heart and will of Father God. By receiving personal direct revelation from his Creator-Redeemer, by accepting the confirming message of Ananias and his loving hands of healing and restoration, and by experiencing the kindness of God that brings Biblical repentance (Rom 2 :4), Saul's life began to affect others who also needed their thinking and behavior to change as well.

Even though modern science and post-modern society may refuse the postulates that relational learning proposes, this historical anecdote gives a true understanding of the Divine design of a human being. The human inability to change a person leaves all without hope, but the love, power and presence of God can't be denied as the best solution to learning problems that cause harm to self and to others.

However, it is not only evolution that darkens the mind of humanistic scientists to the reality of relational learning , but the tradition of religion also masks the superiority of the spiritual essence of the Creator's design even with those who read and study the Bible. Saul, who became Paul, is an example of this problem, and thus it is Paul who best diagnoses the problem and supplies the remedy:

But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, {there} is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (2Cor 3 :14-18).

According to Paul's explanation relational learning is a personal intensely intimate relationship with Christ, the Lord and the Spirit, that causes human beings to experience a transformation similar to that of Jesus. This Biblical passage also reveals that relational learning involves understanding the difference between the Old and New Covenants that God made with human beings. Peter also had to learn this differentiation from God Himself.

The Lord God had to put Peter in a trance to remove Peter from his Old Testament paradigm prison that was no longer relevant to Father God's purposes:

On the next day, as they were on their way, and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry, and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he beheld the sky opened up, and a certain object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all {kinds of} four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, 'Arise, Peter, kill and eat!' But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.' And again a voice {came} to him a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no {longer} consider unholy.' And this happened three times; and immediately the object was taken up into the sky (Act 19 :9-16).

The Lord showed Peter the same vision three times, as well as spoke to him three times concerning the paradigm shift that Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and ascension had initiated. Noah Webster gives the Biblical definition of a trance as "a state in which the soul seems to have passed out of the body into celestial regions" (1828). Peter's body (brain) and soul (mind, will, emotions) had to be exposed to a trance, a vision, and a voice three times before he was able to step out of his paradigm prison. Peter was transformed; his thinking changed; and he was able to obey God's perfect will and His timing. His explanation of his new behavior states:

You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and {yet} God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. And so I ask for what reason you have sent for me (Acts 10 :28-29).

Peter was set free from a spirit of partiality (Acts 10 :34), but his obedience to God caused a problem for other Jewish disciples of Christ who "took issue" with Peter's personal involvement with Gentiles (Act 11 :2). His objectors finally accepted Peter's subjective experience as the will of God:

And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, '"John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit."' 'If God therefore gave to them the same gift as {He gave} to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?' And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, 'Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance {that leads} to life' (Act 11 :16-18).

Relational learning that transforms because the Creator-Redeemer is personally present and involved is vastly superior to the humanistic learning theories wherever they may be deployed.

King David, an Old Testament saint, understood the connection between the human heart, the human mind and the human will, and God's ability to personally observe the activity in those internal domains (Psalm 139 3. ). David was willing to place the Lord at the center of every thought and motive and shared his revelation with his son, Solomon:

'As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him;' (1Ch 28 :9).

Relational Learning and the Human will

Even though thoughts are as ephemeral as breath, God knows every one of them and has given His Living Word and His Holy Spirit to help a human being discern the internal contradictions that powerfully rage unseen within the human personality and sometimes erupt as unacceptable behavior even in those who have believed in Christ and been water baptized. Simon the magician is a representative case study:

Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city, and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, 'This man is what is called the Great Power of God. And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they {began} laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, 'Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.' But Peter said to him, 'May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God' (Acts 8 :9-21).

Simon's paradigm prison locked him into thinking patterns and behavior that reflected the Kingdom of darkness and its focus on man's interest, buying power with money. Peter's response reveals his awareness that Simon's misunderstanding about the free access and availability of God's power could only be rectified personally by the Lord, the Holy Spirit. Therefore Peter states: "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity" (Act 8 :22-23). No matter what change needs to occur in thinking and in behavior, relational learning relies upon the intervention of the Holy Spirit and the written word of God as the key to unlock paradigm prisons. Peter could not change Simon, only Simon's desire to relate personally with the Lord about his condition could bring Simon the transformation and liberation he needed from his years spent listening to and obeying the wrong voice.

The writer of Hebrews clearly cites the discerning power contained in the word of God:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Heb 4 :12-13).

In one of his letters John's advice about learning from an anti-Christ spirit not only reveals the immaterial influence on the material but also boldly affirms the superiority of relational learning with the Spirit of Truth, who is the Holy Spirit:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the {spirit} of the anti-christ, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak {as} from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4 :1-6).

This passage clearly delineates the choice that human beings must make concerning contrary internal thoughts. The choice is: listen to and yield to the spirit of truth or listen to and yield to the spirit of error. The test of all relational learning is agreement with God the Holy Spirit who resides within human beings. John quotes Jesus about the necessity to cultivate a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit: "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come" (John 16 :13). Discernment between good, evil, and the perfect will of Father God is impossible without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit.

As evolutionists try to explain their own human strengths and weaknesses, they often get very close to the kingdom of God and the invisible, immaterial reality of it. Restak (2001) verifies: "By becoming aware of our personal assets and liabilities in our brain's functioning, we can gain what decision-making expert Gary Klein refers to as 'the power to see the invisible'" (163). However, Restak's learning advice concerning immaterial emotions is all self-effort, for that is all evolution and secular humanism can offer:

Start by observing your emotional responses at the present moment. Every thought is accompanied by what psychiatrists refer to as an "emotional valence" ---a positive or negative limbic-based feeling. With most thoughts, the valence is weak and exerts little influence on our emotional equilibrium. On other occasions, the valence is strong enough to exert a decisive influence on mood and response. Your goal is to train yourself to recognize the valence accompanying each of your thoughts (165-166).

Restak goes on to teach that self-training will lead into an expert level where an individual knows what questions to ask him or herself about internal emotions:

When you achieve an expert level of metacognition, you will become a 'participant observer.' Rather than reacting to your feelings, 'acting them out,' you'll be silently exploring the source of your feelings. You'll be asking yourself, 'Why am I suddenly angry or depressed?' (167).

Neither Restak (2001) nor Swartz (2001) give validity to an outside entity that may interject thoughts into the brain-mind of a person. There is no understanding that God the Creator was the One who first asked questions in a personal relationship with human beings to bring accountability into thoughts, words, and behavior. Nor is there any acknowledgment in the literature that negative emotions or "weakness" as Restak calls them, may stem from a source other than the person. Ignorance of the Creator's benevolence and the adversary's malevolence is a serious flaw when examining learning theory. Relational learning is not embarrassed to agree with Jesus Christ and state: "It is the voice not the valence that must be discerned."

James, a New Testament author, links the negative emotions of selfish ambition and jealousy to learning that comes from demons. His contrast between two varied kinds of wisdom and their source is clear:

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and {so} lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (Jam 3 :13-18).

Thus successful relational learning must involve discernment that knows the difference between wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, and that which comes from demons, spirit of error. The spiritual reality of absolute truth being God Himself and error being a rebellious spirit that challenges God's authority is not an option in most learning theories. The spiritual reality of the human ability to vacillate between the two is never considered in the discussion on human learning, and yet this is precisely where solutions to problems in learning and behavior can be discovered.

The pivotal explanation and remedy concerning the internal war of thoughts is described in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah, who quotes the Lord God Himself on this issue:

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord. 'For {as} the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts' (Isa 55 :6-9.


Successful relational learning accepts and understands the internal conflict that rages within a person's heart to choose God's thoughts and His behavior above all others. Isaiah actually quotes God's assessment of mere human thinking that is not divinely inspired: "I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk {in} the way which is not good, following their own thoughts" (Isa 65 :2). Relational learning accepts the New Testament assessment that God's will is not only good but is also perfect and can be known, if the mind is willing to change its thinking patterns. Paul states: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12 :2).

When learning is affected by the emotions of fear(dread), grief, anger, jealousy, and selfish ambition, looking to Father God is the only way to replace those thoughts with Spirit-led thinking. The transformation of the mind is impossible with mere human rationale, but transformation of the mind is a certainty when walking with the Lord in an intimate loving relationship. The prophet Hanani revealed an important learning principle to Asa, an Israelite King: "For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His" (2Chron 16 :9).

In the account of the universal flood God's heart is clearly revealed. Even though the flood was necessary to bring comfort to God's heart filled with pain and grief over the inability of humanity to choose His perfect will, God did find one man on the earth that He could strongly support : "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God" (Gen 6 :9).

No Excuse

This description of Noah reveals that no matter what the culture around may be saying or doing, it is possible to walk with God, think His thoughts, and behave righteously. Noah's obedience to align his thoughts with God's thoughts enabled the Lord to "strongly support" Noah through a cataclysmic necessity that reestablished His covenant on the earth with human beings and with the animals. Noah's learning came solely from God and not from his culture. Noah's ability to design and produce a vessel capable of surviving the upheaval of the universal flood came from Noah's desire not only to listen to God but also to agree with God and obey God. By aligning his thoughts with God and patiently obeying God's instructions, Noah is the first Biblical example of a human being who demonstrates that the reception of heavenly wisdom is vastly superior to earthly wisdom. "By faith Noah, being warned {by God} about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith (Heb 11 :7).

God promised Noah and the animals that He would never again employ a universal flood to deal with the good and evil thoughts and behaviors of human beings and gave the rainbow as a sign of His promise (Gen 9 :8-17). Since the universal flood, four thousand years of human history records multifarious human endeavors trying to take dominion of the earth without an abiding learning relationship with God.

'Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither {can} you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned' (John 15 :4-6).

The doctrines of demons and the futility of humanity's compliance with those doctrines have billions locked in hopeless paradigm prisons. However, God revealed His final solution for human thinking to Isaiah hundreds of years before the Messiah's first appearance: "For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory" (Isa 66 :18).

Before Jesus, the Messiah, was born, the prophetic word spoken by His mother revealed God's view of thoughts in the human heart: "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered {those who were} proud in the thoughts of their heart" (Luke 1 :51).

When Jesus was eight days old, Simeon prophesied the following about Mary's own soul and the exposure of immaterial thoughts:

Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, 'Behold, this {Child} is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-- and a sword will pierce even your own soul-- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed' (Luke 2 :34-35).

Thought Exposure in Relational Learning

When Jesus began to reveal the Father to those in His generation who had ears to hear, Matthew records Jesus' words about thoughts:

'But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man' (Mat 15 :18-20).

When Mark, another gospel writer, adds negative immaterial emotions like envy and foolishness to the list of evil thoughts that internally defile human beings, then the need to unlearn such things is seen as an essential process in establishing relational learning :

He [Jesus] was saying, 'That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting {and} wickedness, {as well as} deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride {and} foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man' (Mark 7 :20-23).

God is never described as being fearful, afraid, deceitful, proud, foolish, envious or covetous. But ever since the first couple experienced fear, negative ungodlike thoughts and emotions have to be exposed and confronted by every individual person. When God's thoughts can be chosen and contrary thoughts are rejected, then relational learning and transformation occurs. Paul gives this advice to those who are in a position of relational learning with God and desire to help others with their thought processes, words, and behaviors that do not reveal the glory of God:

The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses {and escape} from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will (2Tim 2 :24-26).

Even though secular humanists, evolutionists, and self-effort religions teach that the human will needs no outside force to bring change to the brain and to behavior, the Biblical record shows that the human will has suffered damage and needs an outside source for restoration. Experience and the written word of God corroborate that the human will can be enslaved by the devil to perform his will, but relational learning with Jesus is the key that unlocks the human will and sets it free to agree with Father God.

The Presence of Fear in Relational Learning

When Adam said, "I was afraid" the Hebrew word is yare(3372a) meaning to fear. Fear is an immaterial emotion defined by Noah Webster (1828) as: "A painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger." He further explains: "Fear is accompanied with a desire to avoid or ward off the expected evil." Restak (2001) uses similar words to describe a modern panic disorder, but he omits any connection to evil: "Panic disorder represents an extreme example of an inappropriate flight or fight respiratory response. A person suffering from panic disorder suddenly becomes afflicted with a sense of impending doom" (122).

Fear caused Adam to hide from God rather than to run to Him to express love and devotion and to cry for help. Adam's fellowship and learning relationship with His Creator had turned from love, acceptance and trust to fear, anxiety and the desire to self-protect. Dread caused Adam to view God as evil rather than good. God had not changed, but Adam's ability to perceive God correctly had been damaged. When fear is present and undetected in a person, learning, as defined by the Creator, is thwarted. Thus an operative learning model for a Christian acknowledges the possibility that the immaterial emotion of fear could block learning. To ignore fear and other internal negative emotions that spawn from fear is to invite failure in human learning. To assume that a person can "will" fear or anger away is to place a person in a learning situation in the most helpless of conditions. Restak (2001) explains:

"There is nothing more stressful than dreading some unpleasant experience that you have no control over. The result can be a paralyzing sense of futility, helplessness, and stress-related anxiety. The solution is to decide if you can reasonably expect to bring about a change in the situation. Certain things you will not be able to do anything about. But instead of giving in to a state of learned helplessness, change the one thing you do retain some control over: your own attitude toward the stressful situation (124).

According to the Bible the emotion of fear has to be consciously replaced with other thoughts concerning what is real and eternal so that what is temporal conforms to God's intentions. A learning model for a Christian educator must include the Biblical remedy that removes fear when it surfaces. The New Testament revelation concerning the antidote to fear may be too ethereal and simplistic for evolutionary neuroscientists, but submission to God's perspective is always the most practical and economical solution.

The Presence of Love in Relational Learning

According to the Apostle John, love removes fear. He writes: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us" (1Joh 4 :18-29). In the Garden of Eden the relational learning that Adam and his wife received from God was lost when disobedience replaced submission and fear replaced love.

The presence of fear in any situation reveals that love has not reached perfection for that particular situation. The concept of love being a process that undergoes refining to achieve perfection may not be a tangible, definable material element that can be examined in a laboratory, but the existence of the power of love cannot be denied, and for a Christian educator the reception of God's love must be part of relational learning.

Love is not a component of performance or a method of self-effort. Love is a thought, an attitude, an emotion to be received, but receiving love is not as easy as it may first appear. Love and fear are not only immaterial emotions but also are entities or beings whose total essence is that particular emotion. God, the Supreme Being, is love, and fear is an evil spirit.

Even though the Biblical revelation may be disputed by those who do not believe in an unseen kingdom that is contrary to God's design, fear is an emotion that neither originates from God nor springs from the human spirit. Fear emanates from the presence of an evil spirit. Paul addresses this evil interference clearly: "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity [fear], but of power and love and discipline {sound mind}" (2Tim 1 :7). It is the power of God and the love of God that casts out fear in all of life's circumstances, and the reality of God's intervention and His power over evil spirits disparately needs to enter the debate on human learning. The Greek word translated "discipline" {sound mind} comes from sophronizo [4994] which means to recall one to his senses. The Biblical model of relational learning unequivocally agrees and accepts the truth that God has given humanity power, love, and the ability to bring the human mind in line with God's thoughts. Jesus gives hope in hopeless out-of-control scenarios when a person realizes his or her impotence and inability to cope with fear: "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God" (Mark 10 :27).

Even though love is the antidote to fear, in relational learning the first change in thoughts when fear presents itself is the reality and acceptance of God's gift of power over the demonic realm (Luke 10 :18-20). The Greek word for power is dunamis (1411) which means miraculous power, might, and strength. Though the operation of this power may not be scientifically explained, its results are observable.

A soccer player, Adam Bruckner, shares his victory over OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) by focusing on God's love and trusting in His power. His anecdote also reveals the futility and inadequacy of focusing on mere human self-effort. 4 Paul explains how man's wisdom (thoughts) can only be challenged effectively by the power of God:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. {We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2Cor 10 :3-5).

The hope of relational learning relies on the power of God which is His love. The nakedness that Adam experienced has been covered by the love of Father manifested in the life, death (blood), resurrection, and ascension (blood) of Jesus Christ. This is Paul's ultimate revelation concerning the consummate power and position of love over everything else in all of creation:

What then shall we say to these things? If God {is} for us, who {is} against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8 :31-39).

This description places the love of God as the ultimate power in a person's life and in the cosmos.

Relational Learning or Tradition?

Jesus Christ's Relational Learning or Secular and Religious Tradition?

In Paul's second letter to Timothy he aptly describes the malaise of an educational philosophy that ignores Christ with the phrase "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2Tit 3 :7). The context of this passage is directly referring to women who have been deceived by false teachers. The Greek word for learning in this verse is the same Greek word that is used in three gospel accounts revealing the words of Jesus, the Son of Man, the Son of God. A Christian model of learning must not only actively agree with Jesus' teaching, but it must also consistently adhere to His teaching and example to be so named. John E. Hull's (2003) assessment of Christian education draws the demarcation: "Implicit in our need for better metaphors, concepts, and examples that clarify the meaning of Christian education is the fight to disentangle ourselves from the reigning secular paradigm in education" (217). The Biblical model of relational learning is Jesus Himself who gives His own self as the perfect example of how we learn (THE WAY), relates powerful concrete parables to reveal from whom we learn (THE TRUTH), and why we learn (THE LIFE) (John 14 :6).

Paul Scotchmer (2003) views Christian education as that which touches the deepest human need:

The real value of a Christian college lies in its unique ability to affirm the fundamental unity of all truth, in ways that serve the deepest needs of the human person. This is done by using Christian theology as the starting point of an education directed toward all aspects of culture (9).

As Christian educators and evolutionists get closer to each other in understanding the immaterial dynamics of learning, Jesus must remain as the prototype for relational learning. Jesus' first interchange involving learning occurred in a home where tax-gatherers and sinners were comfortably sharing a meal with Him and His disciples:

When the Pharisees saw {this,} they said to His disciples, 'Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?' But when He heard this, He said, '{It is} not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what {this} means, '"I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,"' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners' (Mat 9 :11-13).

Jesus used this teachable moment to reveal a deficiency in how the Pharisees had learned to learn . Jesus pinpoints the subject matter as well as the process. The subject is compassion and the process has two stages: (1) Go (2) Learn.

A surface reading of this passage in English doesn't harmonize with the western American view of a learning experience, for Jesus doesn't explicitly tell the Pharisees where to go or from whom to learn. Jesus explains that chesed (compassion, kindness, mercy) is more important to God than rote rituals (remember the way of Cain). However, anyone who was listening to learn may have recognized a phrase coming from an Old Testament prophet, Hosea, who recorded God's heart concerning learning: "For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifices and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6 :6). The religious concept of God and the paradigm structure of Jesus' generation no longer represented God's true nature of love. Thus Jesus yearningly offered to all within the sound of His voice the opportunity to "go" - to move out from the old structure or wineskin and to "learn" from Father God Himself, as He had learned to do. Jesus reveals that His relationship with the Father was based on revelation coming in a familial Father-Son relationship:

Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless {it is} something He sees the Father doing; for whatever {the Father} does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel' (John 5 :19-20).

Those who "heard" Jesus' heart during any of these interchanges and were able to leave their present status would be obeying Moses' teaching as well:

{Remember} the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children'(Deu 4 :10).

The ability of a person to recognize the voice of God is often squelched in the experience described as education. A Christian who is called to serve in any educational endeavor must recognize that God views His own voice and a relationship with Him as the first priority. To recognize the voice of God and to lovingly experience the joy of dialoguing with and learning from the Creator is the essence of relational learning for parent, child, and teacher. The Old Testament declares this command-promise:

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deu 6 :4-7)

When God's voice is less important than a human voice in any educational setting including the home and church, then learning as God defines relational learning is thwarted, perverted and deceptive. The Lord's intervention into Samuel's faulty temple education is a noteworthy Old Testament example of the necessity to discern the voice of the Lord for oneself (1Sam 3 :1-21). At the age of twelve Jesus astounded those in charge of Herod's temple with the wisdom He acquired by recognizing the Father's voice (Luke 2 :46-47). One of Jesus' missions was to reacquaint the people with the loving voice of their Creator:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given {them} to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch {them} out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one (John 10 :27-30).

When discussing with Timothy the state of the human mind that rejects its Creator, Paul used the example of Moses who challenged the political and education establishment of his generation:

"Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these {men} also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected as regards the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, as also that of those {two} came to be" (2Tim 3 :8-9).

As Scotchmer (2003) points out, it doesn't take much research to verify the lack of progress that the folly of evolution and secular humanism has perpetrated on Christian education:

Outside the Christian community, western education is valued only for its material benefits, not its spiritual ones. Consequently, insofar as Christian institutions limit their impact to the useful arts, they will be welcome. But the moment it becomes clear that their education has moral and spiritual impact as well, there will be problems (8).

With Samuel, Moses, Jesus, Peter, and Paul as examples who challenged the status quo , a Biblical view of learning must be prepared to do the same. The relational learning model allows Jesus Christ to define and describe the process of learning how to learn and then seeks to adapt all learning situations under the Lordship of Jesus Christ while keeping Christ central at all times: "In Him we live and move and exist" (Acts 17 :28).

When Jesus fervently commanded the Pharisees: "Go and learn," the Pharisees had every opportunity to be offended. According to the Greek word used in this interchange, Jesus was saying, "Go, get educated;" or "Go and find out;" or Go and receive instruction." The Pharisees were the educated; they were the instructors, but Jesus lovingly confronted their deepest need to learn from God rather than reinterpret God and mislead others about His true nature. Christian educators need to continually evaluate curricula, methods, and environmental conditions to be sure nothing called Christian is in reality blocking, squelching, or denying the voice of the Creator and Redeemer in any individual, student or teacher. His words of warning are sobering: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks!" (Matt 18 :6-7).

When Jesus presented the major paradigm shift concerning where one learns and how one learns, He prayed to Father God before He voiced the change:

'I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from {the} wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight (Mat 11 :25-26).

His prayer reveals one of the pleasures of Father God: "Hiding things from the wise and intelligent."

Because Father God has placed all things under Jesus' control, a relationship with Jesus is necessary for true learning to occur. When the Pharisees first heard the words, "Go and learn," Jesus did not tell them where to go. However, after He began touring the cities to preach and teach the people, Jesus revealed where to go: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Mat 11 :28).

Restful Relaxation in Relational Learning

Mental exhaustion in educational pursuits is often more wearying than physical exertion expended in hard labor. Ecclesiastes, The Preacher's treatise on the vanity of human endeavors, specifically cites the correlation between mental and physical exhaustion in educational pursuits:

But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion {to books} is wearying to the body. The conclusion, when all has been heard, {is :} fear God and keep His commandments, because this {applies to} every person (Ecc 12 :12-13).

Restak (2002) attributes mental exhaustion to the human inability to process rapid transfer of information used in telecommunication (TV, video, computer, internet, cell phone):

As a result of this combination of too much information coming at us too quickly, our brains are suffering from information overload. Included among the symptoms are a chronic sense of mental fatigue, an inability to distinguish the important from the trivial, impatience at being told 'too much,' lack of focus, difficulty concentrating, and indecisiveness stemming from a concern that available information is somehow incomplete (121).

Thus Jesus came in the fullness of time to demonstrate by example and to teach by precept that the major success of relational learning is found in a place of perceived peaceful rest with Jesus rather than from laborious human effort. When Jesus is in control of the learning process, the mind, will and emotions experience an "intermission or cessation" of labor( anapausis [372] ). Matthew records the first principle: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls" (Mat 11 :29). According to Jesus the learning process when yoked in agreement with Him is not only light but easy to embrace: "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light" (Matt 11 :30). The Greek word translated "easy" is chrestos [5543] which means learning with Jesus is serviceable and good.

Jesus' status as Teacher astonished many Jews because they discerned the difference between learning and education when they observed Him. John cites this awareness: "But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and {began to} teach. The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, "How has this man become learned, having never been educated?" (John 7 :14).

Jesus, the Learned, is not the same as Jesus, the educated, and it is the same for those who abide with Him in the twenty-first century. The Greek word used for "learned" in this description of Jesus is oida [3609a] which means to know, to perceive, to see, and the word for "education" is manthano [3129] which means to learn . A better rendering of the Greek could ask this question: "How does Jesus know or perceive when He has no formal learning?" This ability to know or perceive God correctly is the essence of relational learning that was lost in the Garden of Eden and was fully restored by Jesus.

Jesus humbly explained where He had to "Go and learn" :

'My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or {whether} I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him' (John 7 :16-18).

Learning with Father God and Christ is superior to becoming educated without Him.

Relational Learning with Father God

The concept of learning from the Father rather than from men was a major paradigm shift for those who heard Jesus' explanation of His own learning process. His offer of the same learning experience to "any man" brought earthquakes to the educational establishment of the Aaronic priesthood. Jesus offers the same knowledge today: "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or {whether} I speak from Myself" (John 7 :17).

The idea that submission to Father's will is the only requirement for understanding and knowing truth from error meant freedom for those who had "ears to hear." It also meant that those who enslaved others were losing control. A Biblical model of learning must match Jesus' method of relational learning if it is to be labeled Christian. As the following dialogue reveals, Christ came to demonstrate not only the works of the Father but to reveal the Father Himself:

Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.' Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, Have I been so long with you, and {yet} you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, '"Show us the Father"'? 'Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater {works} than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do {it}' (John 14 :6-14).

Any learning process in any situation that doesn't result in knowing the Father and glorifying the Father by experiencing answered prayer in Jesus' name is not relational learning that combines serviceable practical knowledge with eternal value. The futility of acquiring knowledge without a vital personal relationship with the Creator is: "'Vanity of vanities,'" says the Preacher, "'all is vanity!'" (Ecc 12 :8).

In chapter three of Philippians Paul makes it very clear that all his accomplishments as an expert in Jewish law, had no comparison to the "surpassing value of knowing Christ" (Philip 3 :8). He also admonishes the readers of his letter to remember our true citizenship is in heaven, not on earth. According to Paul focusing the human mind "on earthly things" pits the human mind in direct opposition to the cross of Christ:

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, {that they are} enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is {their} appetite, and {whose} glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself (Philip 3 :17-21).

Release (Freedom) in Relational Learning

The power that both Jesus and Paul possessed on earth was one that set people free from disease, demons, and the fear of death. This was done freely with no cost to those who desperately wanted freedom from satanic bondage. Jesus clearly explained true freedom:

'And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?' And as He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire multitude was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him. (Luke 13 :16-17)

Paul stated his mission this way:

Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ (Rom 15 :17-19).

A mind set first on earthly things is a learning experience that by-passes a relationship with the Father, and this wrong focus leads to an expansion of demonic wisdom and false knowledge (1Tim 6 :20-21). King Solomon experienced learning directly from the Lord when the Lord appeared to him "in a dream at night and God said, "Ask what you wish me to give you." The following quote reveals Father God's heart to empower His children who humbly come to Him for His knowledge and His wisdom:

'So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Thine?' And it was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said to him, 'Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.' (1Kings 3 :9-13)

A culture that believes that secular humanism will help humanity evolve to the next level of enlightenment will always clash with one who accepts that the essence of true learning cannot be done apart from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Solomon's initiation in God's wisdom expressively shows heavenly wisdom is superior to earthly wisdom, but the end of Solomon's life reveals the folly of forsaking a loving learning relationship with Father God. With New Covenant revelation James states the battle with culture succinctly: "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (Jam 4 :4). Paul passionately describes the mental battle within:

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able {to do so}; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8 :5-8).

Paul, an excellent example of one who rarely deviated from relational learning, reveals the superiority of God's wisdom that is received by faith. This passage describes a relational revelatory experience with the Spirit of God that is beyond the five senses. The highlighted words and phrases are to emphasize the superiority of wisdom that comes through God, the Holy Spirit:

My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden {wisdom,} which God predestined before the ages to our glory; {the wisdom} which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, 'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And {which} have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.' For to us God revealed {them} through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the {thoughts} of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the {thoughts} of God no one knows except the Spirit of God (1Cor 2 :4-11).

In this passage Paul also stresses that relational learning comes through an immaterial emotion called love. The Christian faith and the reception of God's wisdom cannot be divorced from a relational love of the Father: faith works through love (Gal 5 :6). A loving heart in faithful submission to the Creator of the human race even in Christian education establishments may expose the incorrect view of the learning process. Hall (2003) states:

We have trouble grasping the concept 'Christian education' because in our liberal environment, education is education. Everyone expects traditional subjects to remain the same for teachers of all persuasions. In fact, faith (or any other kind of indoctrinating impulse) must be de-coupled from learning before one can even claim to be educated. Simply saying the two are harmoniously brought together in Christian schools flies in the face of the way people normally think. Consequently, all our attempts to articulate what a biblically based Christian model of education means fall outside the comfort zone of our conceptual landscape (211).

When the Biblical model of relational learning is accepted and practiced, transformation comes to people and often the surrounding environment also changes. Ruth Ruibal (2002) comments:

As a church we need to discover God's thoughts and ways. This calls for study and openness on our part and demands major paradigm shifts....We need to learn the philosophy of the kingdom of God in all areas of life....Kingdom life does not depend on academic achievements, but on obedience to the ways of God. As a modern example, consider Almolonga, Guatemala. God has given this community a piece of the "garden culture." The people lack the academic knowledge that we would ordinarily think necessary to produce an increase in harvest of 1,000 percent in a short period of time. Yet they attracted the attention of the United States Department of Agriculture, which investigated this phenomenon. We have seen similar increases in harvests in Peru and other areas of Guatemala where entire communities have embraced the gospel (147). 5

Therefore the Biblical model of relational learning revels in the reality that faith brings emotional pleasure to the Creator: "Without faith it is impossible to please {Him}, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and {that} He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb 11 :6). This change in thinking and behavior submits to God's sovereignty, receives His love, and even the ground becomes productive just as Paul envisioned: "The creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God" (Rom 8 :19).

The Extent of Father's Love in Relational Learning

An examination of one of Jesus' students who learned from Him and immediately brought others to Him reveals another paradigm shift for Jesus' disciples. Jesus' dialogue and relationship with the woman at the Samaritan well crashed into two errors of Jewish tradition: (1) Father's love for the people of Samaria and (2) Father's love for women. Neither was found in the Jewish box called "God." The Samaritan woman's encounter with Jesus was a simultaneous learning and unlearning experience. She changed her preconceived concepts about a Jew, water, her lifestyle, worship, the Father, the Messiah and her testimony. This is an excellent description of true learning under the tutelage of Jesus Christ. Instantaneous transformation occurs when Christ is given the freedom to reveal Himself. The liberty the woman received in this short interchange was then freely given to others:

So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world ' (John 4 :40-42).

. The minds of the Samaritans changed because they had a personal relationship with Jesus. A personal relationship with Jesus is evidenced in the material being changed by the immaterial: Peter walked on water (Matt 14 :28-29); Peter paid the temple tax by getting a coin out of a fish's mouth (Matt 17 :27 ); thousands of people were fed by Jesus praying over a few fish and a few loaves of bread (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all record this); wedding guests drank wine made from water (John 2 :9). Many Christians think that Jesus did these miracles as God, but He came to restore God's original blessing and design for human beings: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen 1 :28). According to Paul Jesus did these things as man, not as God:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philip 2 :5-8).

Jesus' relational learning with Father God enabled him to do on earth as a man what no other human being had ever done. His love and confidence (faith) in Father God enabled Jesus to only do what the Father asked; nothing more and nothing less. Jesus' ministry as the Messiah was less than some expected, more than some expected and totally different from anything anyone had ever seen a human being do before. When John the Baptist had doubts about Jesus, Jesus spoke these words about Himself:

Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: {the} blind receive sight, {the} lame walk, {the} lepers are cleansed, and {the} deaf hear, {the} dead are raised up, {the} poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me (Luke 7 :22-23.

Modern human beings, believers and non-believers are missing the blessing of Father God because we are stumbling over Jesus. We are stumbling rather than doing the greater works that He said believers would do (John 14 :12). We are stumbling because we do not know how to focus only on Father and His will, as Jesus did. Richard Restak (2001) states: "Since the brain can keep only one thought at a time in the foreground of consciousness, it's important to emphasize uplifting rather than depressing and negative preoccupations" (114). Human beings keep falling short of God's glory because our brains find it very difficult to focus only on Jesus Christ and walk in love and obedience to His commands. All other pursuits seek to give glory to human beings.

Relational Learning that keeps Jesus always in focus occurs with little effort, and learners who keep Jesus in focus are characterized by increasing love, joy, faith and freedom. Jesus states: "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8 :36). Paul explains "freedom" as the embodiment of Jesus' mission: "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal 5 :1).

Learning how to learn is possible when Jesus as Learner-Teacher is always in focus. Jesus used parables to teach truth and in one specific parable His command "to learn" is explicit: "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, {right} at the door (Mat 24 :12).

The importance of the fig tree parable is exactly what Jesus says, "I am near." Now that almost 2000 years have passed since Christ uttered this parable, cataclysmic events of history have come and gone and will continue to come and go until His visible return. However, Christ is near now even though He may be invisible and immaterial:

But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down), or 'Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). " But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"-- that is, the word of faith which we are preaching..,(Rom 10 :6-8).

Relational learning by faith motivated by an intimate love relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not only a characteristic of the new birth, the very essence of being a new creation but also is a transcendent experience that is practical. Everything (immaterial) about Jesus' life served a practical purpose on the earth (material), but everything He did came out of His relationship with His Father. Jesus was very expressive about the place of initiative in relational learning. Relational learning is not the human immaterial mind over matter, for relational learning as exemplified by Jesus is a complete dependency on Father God.

Jesus' words were those He learned from the Father: "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me (John 8 :28). Jesus' words that describe relational learning are very precise:

'For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me' (John 12 :49-50).

The Holy Spirit, though invisible, is God on the earth today, and He is just as lovingly obedient in His present submissive role on earth as Jesus was when He walked visibly on the earth. Jesus explains: "But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come (John 16 :13). This kind of dependency upon the Creator in relational learning is not upheld as the pattern for all walks of life on this earth. Millions suffer because we humans find it so hard to believe Father knows best how to direct all our works. Jesus explains relational learning and the manifestation of Father's will for Himself and for us:

'Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater {works} than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do {it.} If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; {that is} the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, {but} you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you' (John 14 :10-17).

There was only one place on earth where Jesus says he went on his own initiative because He fully trusted in the Father's love for Him. That place was the cross:

'For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father' (John 10 :17-18).

The role of the Holy Spirit in relational learning has yet to be put forth into educational situations so that Father's will is more important that anything else. The concept of giving up personal control to have Spirit-led dominion on the earth that pleases the Father often causes division in Christian circles. Yet scientists who believe only in evolution are recording this kind of mental transcendent power:

Thanks to these humanizing brain areas, we are the only creatures that can transcend limitations of space and time. We can imagine ourselves already in possession of the things we want. And this isn't just a form of daydreaming. According to recent research on PET scans, we don't have to do anything in order to change our brains (Restak, 2001, 49).

Jesus didn't just daydream. Through relational learning His words withered a disobedient fruitless fig tree, and His disciples were astounded (Mark 11 :21); He restored a man's withered hand on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees were filled with rage (Luke 6 :10-11); His wisdom far surpassed that of Solomon, and the crowds were astonished (Luke 11 :31).

Transcendent Freedom in Relational Learning

This paper has been presented to reveal that relational learning is the only way to live successfully on this earth, and to do so requires incredible transformation in the brain and the mind. The process of learning to abide with Christ no matter what civilization may be rising or falling is the essence of true relational learning. Being faithful to Christ by having an abiding undisturbed relationship with Him is the secret of learning how to learn in every generation and for every age group. Abiding in Christ is being prepared to endure patiently or to engage Christ immediately:

But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,' and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect {him} and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth (Mat 24 :48-51).

The efficiency of Christ's ability to learn from the Father and to always be prepared is very contrary to the world's way of learning that is totally dependent upon human self-effort. However, Christ's way to learn may be viewed as immaterial, unscientific, and irrational to Christian educators as well. "Our problem is not that we lack vision, but our habit of setting artificial limits on faith-learning integration" (Hall, 2003, 211).

A love relationship with Father God who is unseen and Spirit and choosing to love others who are seen is a learning process for life on earth that also carries into eternity: "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. "Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions" (Mat 24 :46-47).

A learning model that ignores a loving relationship with Father God and with others cannot bear the name Christian (1John 4 :20). Hall (2003) strongly asserts: "Faith-learning integration rarely combines faith-inspired thought with faith-inspired action" (212).

One of the Greek words for learning is manthano (3129) from the root word math. Even though evolutionists scoffingly demand mathematical statistics to "prove" the existence of God, Christians must learn that the beginning stages of learning how to learn for a human being must conform to the way in which Jesus learned. Jesus' lifestyle or relationship with Father and Holy Spirit reveals a place of humble surrender and submission for assistance that smacks against the paradigm of self-effort and self-aggrandizement found in secular humanism. The writer of Hebrews describes Christ's learning process:

"Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation (Heb 5 :8-9).

Why would the perfect Son of God reveal to the world that obedience and suffering are necessary for learning that pleases Father God ?

Radiance in Relational Learning

When Jesus came in the fullness of time, man's cup of unbelief (iniquity) was full, brimming over, splashing and defiling all. Father God decided it was time for those made "in Our image and according to Our likeness" to manifest His perfect design for humanity. Thus the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of Man and what He learned and how He learned is the foundation of how the Creator designed a human being to learn: a Father & Son relationship.

The concept of obedience to Father God as part of the human learning process is anathema to the evolutionary scientific community. However, the pattern of Jesus, the perfect Student and the perfect Teacher, is freely available to everyone and anyone who can admit that Jesus was a historical figure of unequalled excellence and importance. The Hebrews' commentary on Jesus states the historical and eternal significance of Jesus Christ:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in {His} Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they (Heb 1 :1-4).

The use of apologetics to accept the existence of the historical Jesus is the first baby step of learning by obedience and suffering, for the human mind has to repent to think correctly about the historical Jesus. Ridicule, resentment, retaliation, and persecution often come to those in the educational community who wish to give Jesus His place in history and in pedagogy. Aristotle, Dewey, Darwin, and thousands of other men and women whose influence and ability bear no comparison to Jesus" character and accomplishments are given more credence, more attention and more acclaim in educational establishments. Thus a human being of the twenty-first century who wishes to learn relationally and help others learn relationally must fully accept the historical record of Jesus that is contained in the four gospel accounts. This acceptance of Christ simultaneously means rejection of all that is anti-Christ.

Learning through Listening in Relational Learning

Before examining Jesus' lessons of obedience learned through suffering the terms must first be defined. When these two words are put into "educational" terminology, obedience to the Father is the subject to be learned and suffering, the denial of self, is the method or process of learning it. The Greek word for obedience hupakoe comes from the root word hupakouo (5219) which means to listen to, attend to . Throughout his whole life Jesus learned to listen or attend to the voice, the will, and the ways of His Father. This is the essence of learning to learn : submission to Father God rather than doing as one pleases. Jesus also learned to distinguish Father's voice from other voices. It is the same for relational learning in our generation: one voice, not many voices, is the One to obey. Suffering comes when obedience to the Father is not appreciated by others, and one is tempted to listen to the human voices rather than the voice of the Father. The agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is the pinnacle example of His relational learning process that clearly defines the intensity of the battle between the spirit, the soul, and the body: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Mat 26 :41). Both Matthew and Mark record the depth of emotion that Jesus was experiencing in His last learning experience. The following words are used: "Distressed," "troubled," "deeply grieved." Obedience to the Father's voice and will is a place of deep suffering when the Father's will and the human will clash. The fall in the Garden of Eden is reversed by the triumph of Christ in the Garden Gethsemane where through the strain of winning the battle of the soul (mind, will, emotions) the blood of Jesus oozed from His pours. This blood of Christ was shed without human intervention, and this blood of Christ speaks from heaven for all to come to Jesus and learn from Him. Jesus is the only one who could taste death and sin for all, but that does not negate His example of relational learning through the intense suffering of the mind, the will and the emotions to lovingly choose the perfect will of the Father. The Biblical commentary on this event found in Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus' example in Gethsemane is to be emulated by His followers:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart (Heb 12 :1-3).

A Biblical model of learning based on a loving joyous relationship with Father God, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit and the practice of it in educational settings is foolish not only in the eyes of the world but also in Christendom. Yet Hebrews clearly specifies that relational learning with Father God is the essence of life on this earth:

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.' It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom {his} father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He {disciplines us} for {our} good, that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb 12 :4-11).

The Greek root word translated "discipline" (3811) and its variants in this passage of scripture are educational words that reveal a tutorial son-relationship with Father God. To be a Christian learner means thinking, agreeing and behaving as Father wills in every situation. Keeping Father God and His will and His ways central in the field of secular education may be an impossible assignment, but even in Christian institutions the voice of the Father is rarely accepted as part of education. Hall's (2003) criticism of present learning theory and practice in Christian education reveals the need for Christian education to be truly a learning lifestyle that reflects Christ's lifestyle of radiant love and joy in the midst of incredible suffering:

As far as I can tell, Christian schools do not provide an alternative Christian education, if by that term we mean that our biblical perspective on life leads to a biblical model of education. To negotiate the jumps from worldview and theological principles to education philosophy and from there to transformed school model, Christian school educators must ultimately demonstrate how biblical perspective changes the contours and content of education. In other words, Christian perspective must reshape and redress the curriculum, pedagogical theory, student evaluation, educational goals, and school structure - a general concept which includes various mechanisms for controlling student behavior, everything from the way classes are timed and students are grouped to the arrangement of classroom furniture. And this I maintain, we have yet to do (207).

The Christian homeschool movement is the closest example of a Biblical educational lifestyle that integrates the biblical model of learning as set forth in the Old Covenant (Deu 6 :4-7) and evidenced in the life of John the Baptist and Jesus (Rodd, Earl & Diane, 1991). However, that educational movement, like so many others, compromises with the world in curriculum design and content. The compromise is inevitable because the state control on teacher certification drives the curriculum choices in colleges and universities who prepare teachers. Homeschoolers, like Christian high school graduates, desire college degrees and thus are willing to "study" that which bears little resemblance to Christ's methods or content to gain college admission, even though colleges do not impose these requirements. Christian colleges and universities granting degrees in education maintain they have to meet state requirements so their graduates are prepared for state controlled exams for certification. The educational dilemma continues to be a circular walk around the same mountain rather than blasting the mountain off the face of the earth with a faith-filled solution (Mark 11 :22-24). Schotchmer (2003) agrees:

Christian institutions of higher education are often compromised. In order to meet the requirements (whether real or perceived) of the power structure, they adjust their educational standards downward, diminishing the importance of faith. Like politicians, they figure that 'unless I am in a position of influence, I can do no good; and unless I make a few compromises, I will not be in a position of influence.' But that is the least of the problems affecting the integrity of Christian colleges and universities. The stronger force, by far, is the intellectual milieu, which acts upon scholars in a far more insidious fashion. And that is the operative word: fashion. Relatively few scholars can resist the intellectual trends (8).

Hall (2003) states the difficulty for Christians to maintain a consistency in education no matter the level or the location: "Implicit in our need for better metaphors, concepts, and examples that clarify the meaning of Christian education is the fight to disentangle ourselves from the reigning secular paradigm in education" (217). His view of school reform negatively states: "The inability of educators to advance the cause of human freedom sufficiently is the central issue in the history of school reform" (219).

Relational learning as exemplified in Christ and by Christ advocates curricula designs that focus primarily on Christ's words and His example, and this has been excellently proposed and executed by Creation scientists. These educational ministries have successfully provided the Biblical alternative that presents a free-will choice to those who wish to think like Christ in terms of science. However, most history and social studies curricula in educational settings continue to focus on man rather than on God, and most literature courses in Christian schools focus on fiction rather than truth (Rodd, Earl & Diane, 1999).

This paper on learning how to learn has been presented as the first step in placing love and freedom as the central thesis of relational learning , a Biblical model. It's expansion provides Christ-centered alternatives for an English curriculum that incorporates Christ's teaching as the Biblical model of literature and has been used in a home education setting for the sole purpose of creating a learning environment where love, freedom, and truth derive from a personal learning relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: "The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1Tim 1 :5).

As He [Jesus] spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, {then} you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free' (John 8 :30-32).

1 The New American Standard Bible is the translation used throughout this paper. The numbers in brackets [] refer to the New American Standard Bible Concordance.
2 The definition for sin in this paper is (1)falling short of the glory of God (Rom 3 :23) by giving in to unbelief (John 16 :9).
3 David, the second King of Israel, poetically transcribed his understanding of God's awareness of human thoughts and the need to align human thought with God's thoughts:

(For the choir director. A Psalm of David.) O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known {me.} Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all. Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, And laid Thy hand upon me. {Such} knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is {too} high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Thy hand will lead me, And Thy right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike {to Thee.} For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, {And} skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained {for me}, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with Thee. O that Thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. For they speak against Thee wickedly, And Thine enemies take {Thy name} in vain. Do I not hate those who hate Thee, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against Thee? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139 :1-24)

4 The following are quotes from his story:
Bill, fellow teammate once said to Adam, 'When you're ready for God, he'll find you' (62). Adam continues, "I looked across the street. If you don't touch that telepwerehone pole I thought, something bad will happen tomorrow.

Automatically, I stepped off the curb. The I hesitated. No, I thought. I don't want to. I'm going to do this on my own. But I couldn't turn away. I stood rooted in place, staring at the telephone pole. It wasn't far, just a few steps. Every fiber of by being wanted to go there, to touch it. My hand almost twitched at my side. I had to touch the pole. It was the only thing that could quell this exploding apprehension. No! I can't give in. But what harm could it do? I took a step toward the pole.

Out of nowhere, another thought gripped me. Trust God. The words seemed to come from somewhere deep inside me. They were like a key fitting in a lock. Trust me. A sense of peaceful clarity dissolved my anxiety. I slipped out of myself for an instant and saw how pointless my rituals were, the utter absurdity of this standoff with a telephone pole. Only a power greater than myself, a power stronger that all my fears and obsessions could release me, I knew. Only a loving God could control my life. Was I ready?

I stepped back on the curb and walked away from the telephone pole without looking back even once.

I didn't have to touch the walls before I went to bed that night. Instead, I thought about what Bill had said about God finding me, and I prayed gratefully that day had finally come" (64).
5 Transformations: a documentary video by George Otis (1999) records on site evidence in three continents where prayer changed people and their environment. The Sentinel Group produced by Global Net Productions. (www.sentinelgroup.org)


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Copyright by Earl & Diane Rodd