An Open Bible is a Living and Active One

January 25, 2018 § Leave a comment

Note that the Bible in the photo chosen for this story(1) is in a glass case. In secular academia, Scripture rarely gets opened outside of a display. Even in the church, it’s opened far too seldom.

To a culture largely suffering from Biblical illiteracy, The Des Moines Register reports that a new “bill would add ‘Bible literacy’ class to Iowa public schools”. This would be an elective course that gives “students the opportunity to study the Bible from the perspective of its impact on history and culture,” and not a Bible study designed to preach or proselytize. Even so, the opponents are predicable, including the ACLU and the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, which calls the bill “an extreme piece of legislation.”

Honestly, any Christian should be excited for the possibility that even in an academic course on the Bible and its influence on the world, truth-seeking students might just find themselves among the influenced. We can play by the rules of American Pluralism and still have confidence that God can speak through any opportunity His Word is opened.

The Lord reminded His prophet of this long ago: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10,11)

1) https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/education/2018/01/18/bill-would-add-bible-literacy-class-iowa-public-schools/1044057001/

Students Telling the Good News is Hardly News

September 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Newsflash: Christians talk about their faith in school.

That’s the thrust of an article this week in The Guardian: How Evangelicals are Making Children their Missionaries in Public Schools. The subhead, “Adults can’t proselytise in schools – but kids can. Hence a new scam by fundamentalists to circumvent church-state separation.”

Katherine Stewart’s sleuthery uncovered the shocking truth that Christians encourage other Christians to evangelize. This “news” is no recent exposé, but came out around 30 A.D. at Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, where believers are called to “go and make disciples”. In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells His disciples, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria” —speaking of a local missions effort— “and to the ends of the earth.”—to meet the need for the Gospel in other parts of the world. For the past two mellennia, evangelical Christians have been heeding the call to be missionaries for the Gospel wherever they are and wherever the Lord leads them to go.

As one serving in youth ministry, I encourage young people to follow Scripture, to live out their faith at school, or at work, or wherever they happen to be; to be prepared to have an answer for those who may ask about the hope they have; to share the love of Christ with others because it is simply too good to keep to ourselves. This adult is guilty as charged.

Also not new is the presence of various religious clubs in public schools, which date back to the pre-colonial era. Albert Mohler, on his Sept. 27th podcast notes that “from the very beginning of the school systems in America, children have been able to speak to one another, prosthelytizing for various ideas or ideologies or worldviews or of course religious faiths as well.” He rightly points out that what would be required to make sure that school kids didn’t share their beliefs, or learn at home or at church from adults how to share their beliefs, is to repeal the right to free speech and liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution. Nothing particularly new there either.

Katherine’s article continues, speaking of Christian clubs and organizations in schools: “These initiatives are “student-led” in the same sense that a pee-wee soccer league is student-led. Yes, it’s the kids kicking the ball, but you have to be pretty detached from reality to imagine that there would be kids on that playing field in the first place without the grown-ups organizing and funding their activities, and cheering them from the sidelines.” 

What kind of success would you expect of a pee-wee soccer league run exclusively by pee-wee soccer players? The expectation that such initiatives exist without any involvement from parents or other supportive adults and their vision is indeed a detachment from reality. And again, nothing new, in any context.

The article concludes: “At their core, [evangelical Christians] do not accept that we live in a diverse society with a secular form of government. If their activities degrade support for the public schools or even destroy them, they will not be sorry to see them go.”

Actually, most Christians do understand that society is diverse in its beliefs and that administrations progressively have sought to secularize government as best they can. Many Christians also see that without the fundamentals taught in Christian theology, principals of government wouldn’t exist, and neither would the value in education (Education in America was largely founded upon Christianity). The framers of the Constitution understood this too, and that the protections afforded by “separation of church and state” were meant to go both directions, that legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The Guardian has finally caught on to evangelical Christianity’s ancient zeal to spread the Gospel. Sadly, it has missed the point.

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