Part I: The Importance of Biblical Teachers | Part II: Defining the Teacher’s Responsibility | Part III: Concern for False Teachers | Part IV: The Element of Prayer

In part one we looked at the need for sound biblical teaching in our churches today. Our young college students are mixing post-modern pragmatic thought with their pre-modern beliefs in God. To them, the experiential pragmatic element is a necessity to understand the world in which they live in; yet, at the same time they know that God exists in some fashion apart from all that. Following that, in part two the responsibility of the teacher was defined. 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 were explored. As Paul expressed, we should not allow doctrine to just be tossed out into the wind and blown around. Doctrine is essential to the church. The job of the teacher is a gift which is specifically given for perfecting, ministering and edifying the body of Christ. It is important to remember that not everyone is a teacher. Then, in part three we dealt with false teachers. There is a direct correlation between the teacher in the church age and the prophet of Old Testament times. Man does not direct the teachings of God. Relativistic interpretation is not open to any passage of scripture. It does not matter what a verse means to an individual; only what the verse means according to the one who Authored it. Perverting God’s truth will only incur His divine wrath. Lastly, in part four, the element of prayer was brought in as the prime tool of a teacher. In this penultimate essay on the teacher, I will tie in previous posts and explore the teacher’s relationship to the world.

The gift of teaching, graciously granted by the Holy Spirit, carries a great responsibility. The proper training and cultivating of any gift should be of prime concern; the gifts freely granted by the Spirit can be abused (see 1 Corinthians 14 and Paul’s chastening on the misuse of the gift of tongues) and therefore must be developed in accordance with the scriptures and proper instruction. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8). The gifts are to be used as properly apportioned by God, once recognized people are to strive and excel in their gift not to emulate others. This notion is further agreed upon by Peter: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). Peter is making a point that the gifts are not to be used for personal display or glorification; they are to be used for the service and glory of God.

In conclusion, the Christian youth of today face strong opposition from the world in the form of pragmatism. Christian youth need the discerning skills to recognize false teaching from true doctrine because pragmatic and postmodern thought is subtle and very appealing to students at first glance. While the majority of this responsibility falls upon the local pastor, a great deal of responsibility equally lies on the Sunday-School teacher. As liable Christians, it is imperative to our youth that they receive proper theological presuppositions and philosophies in their education so that when they are exposed to false information they readily acknowledge and avoid it and those who teach said heresies (cf. Romans 16:17-18). Therefore, this study concludes that those who maintain a teaching position in the local church hold a highly important position. As a community, Christians should carefully consider persons in positions of teaching. This is especially important in upper levels; for, at the high-school and college level a person defines himself and as a result becomes highly susceptible to new and unique ideas in their quest for knowledge.

As shown in the study by Robert Grahmann (see Part I: The Importance of Biblical Teachers) Christian college students “reflected modernist beliefs with postmodern reasons for their beliefs; modernist methods mixed with a postmodern approach.” After summarizing his findings, Grahmann offers a solution:

From my research it can be seen that Christian young people, even thinking one[s] at major universities, are very weak in apologetics. They are articulate and passionate about describing their experiences of faith, but they don’t seem to go very deeply into intellectual defenses of the faith. As the church developed apologetics appropriate for a modernist era (the “proofs for God,” for instance), so the church needs to develop an apologetic for a postmodern age. This apologetic will take the mind seriously, but it will also include a strong experiential component built around a lively experience of Jesus and his community.

“Experience,” “community,” “narrative,” “empowerment to seek”—these are the words that Christian young people at secular university campuses used most often to describe their approach to the Bible, the way they read the Bible. These are biblical words and concepts. In the book of Acts the early believers experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, they experienced the presence of Jesus. They formed powerful communities of sharing, caring, and learning. They told the story of Jesus and his love and grace. They sought God together and were empowered for ministry.

While Grahmann correctly identifies the problem, his solution is not Biblically based. First, to suggest an apologetic for a postmodern age is ludicrous, for postmodern thought in-of-itself is anti-biblical by its very nature. Second, to recommend an apologetic built around an experiential component weakens the strength of the suggested apologetic and therefore cannot be an advisable solution to contemplate. As this study clearly ascertains, the Christian youth of today need a strong fundamental grounding in the scriptures. Paul writes to the church in Corinth: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13). Christians conform not to the world but to the standards of God; they must live apart from the world. Grahmann’s own solution furthers the problem he identifies. Postmodern thought has embedded itself within the Christian community; hence, diligent and discerning teachers of God’s word need to combat the increasing postmodern and pragmatic threat. Predisposed Christians must be aware of those teaching doctrine to their youth. As arrived at above, the teachers in the local Sunday-School class must approach their position responsibly and properly utilize their gift, apportioned specifically to them, by God. Teachers are presenters of God’s truth to His people, never as one who presents their whimsical views on the various teachings of the Bible, but as a receptacle who has humbled himself and sought God’s truth. Only after diligent study and prayer, a presenter of truth can be a teacher.

-Last thoughts, since the teacher matters, does the church?

Thomas R. Schreiner gives as an example, “teachers are not exempted from serving others, from rendering financial assistance, from showing mercy, and so on. Nonetheless, teachers should especially concentrate on studying so that their teaching is effective” (Romans, BECNT [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998], p. 657).

Gramann, “Studying Scripture Within the Postmodern Secular University Context,” p. 76, emphasis in original.