Monday, June 23, 2008

Correct Response

In the Bible, the correct response to being told not to preach the Gospel is to carry on preaching the Gospel. However, to look at the Church in Britain today, you wouldn't know it.

Sorry for the lack of blogging recently - I've been on holiday...

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What situations were you thinking of?

Also, it is undoubtedly true that some of the CofE seems to have forgotten what gospel preaching is about. However, a lot of the time that some conservative evangelicals say that other people don't preach the gospel, it's actually just that they don't preach it in quite the same way. They may even be preaching it more effectively.

John said...

An example might help....

I agree about conservative evangelicals and the gospel by the way - I think (with NT Wright on this one) that the key truth is Jesus' lordship rather than Penal Substitutionary Atonement.

When I was doing my teacher training, I was at a large conservative evangelical church, and I attended a group they started for teachers. I thought it would be useful for talking about how best to share our faith with other teachers and pupils at school. But the consensus there was overwhelmingly that it was "unprofessional" to share faith with pupils.

My response now - so what?

With the example of teachers, it is important to be clear that when I was a teacher, I was employed to do a job - teaching physics. If I did anything which impacted negatively on that, it would have been a problem. But it's also important to remember that I am employed by a far greater employer than my school...

There are plenty of examples where we cloak our refusal to share the gospel of Jesus with the label of "professionalism" - doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc, etc.

madeline bassett said...

Of course it is unprofessional for a teacher to share faith with pupils. Teachers are in a privileged position, able to influence young minds. To use this position in the classroom to influence them about faith is an abuse of status. If, for instance, a Muslim teacher were to do it then there would be an outcry. Any teacher, Christian or otherwise, who abused this trust should be sacked. What you do in the company of your colleagues is a quite different matter.

Mike Dowler said...

Madeline - you say "of course". Can I ask what basis you have for this?

For example, would it be acceptable for a physics teacher to tell a class:
(a) that (s)he subscribes to the theory of infinite universes, each corresponding to a particular quantum state;
(b) that (s)he believes that the infinite nature of the universe makes the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life certain; or
(c) that (s)he really enjoyed watching Top Gear at the weekend?

All of these are subjective or matters of 'faith' to some degree, and may be capable of influencing the minds of their hearers, but I do not believe them to be inappropriate for the classroom, nor abuse of a position of trust. Of course, if they became the focus of the lesson to the exclusion of physics, then there is a problem, as custard points out.

Personally, I would have no problem with a Muslim physics teacher describing the Muslim view of creation as part of a discussion on the Big Bang, and would encourage a Christian teacher to discuss the Biblical view in a similar situation. Of course, the teacher needs to be sensitive to the situation of his/her hearers, as Christians should in any such discussion.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think a lot of people insult the kids by not giving them the credit they're due. They may respect the teachers (or may not - don't the teachers wish they did more) but they're not fools and their minds won't become impressed with the teachers' religious views just because they're mentioned. And since we live in a fairly multireligious society, the next teacher should be able to knock the ideas out of their heads anyway.

But yes Custard, I completely agree with you on this one. I think you misunderstand me a bit about different ways of preaching the gospel. I agree with what you said there too (it's another rant of mine) but I was thinking chiefly of someone at a uni CU who seemed to think that 'evangelism' amounted to inviting people to CU meetings where they could hear an accredited speaker dole out the dough. So people who relied on friendship evangelism, or who tried to do something big and graphic like a via dolorosa around campus* etc etc, or who did a soup run and let it be known they were christians, weren't doing evangelism.


*what a pity that never got off the ground.

madeline bassett said...

I say 'of course' because it is simply true. As a parent, if I discovered that a Christian teacher had been trying to influence the faith of one of my own children I would put in an official complaint. As the partner of a Headteacher, I know that if my partner received such a complaint the teacher concerned would be disciplined. It is, quite simply, an abuse of trust.

John said...

Which links in neatly to the theme of persecution. We try arguing that it doesn't happen much in England. What we actually mean is that we are so scared of it that we run away from it and then pretend it doesn't exist.

Yes, when I wrestled with this question a few years ago I knew I might lose my job. But loyalty to God is far more important than any rubbish modernist conception of professionalism or keeping my job or anything like that. It has to be.

madeline bassett said...

So, did you lose your job because of it?

madeline bassett said...

I guess that's a no. so what are you whining about?