Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 7, 1968

What Are We Teaching?


One monumental error that Christians have made over again through the ages has been the assumption that knowledge of the Bible guaranteed correct living. This is not so, as any good educator would be quick to point out. It is easily conceivable that a man might even memorize great portions of the Scripture, or all of it, and be a complete atheist. Yet how much of our teaching effort has been directed solely toward the acquisition of knowledge, information, simple facts!

It is good, or course, for children to be taught the elementary facts of Bible history — proper division of the Bible, books of the Bible, names of the Lord's apostles, names of Jacob's sons, places visited by Paul in each of his three journeys, and a great number of other "lists" or catalogues. But these form the mere skeleton, the bare outline on which to hand vital teachings. The mere imparting of information, the memorizing of lists is but a beginning. True it is a beginning, and a very good one; but how sadly inadequate the teaching that does not go beyond that! We are seeking to build character, to develop correct attitudes, appreciations, habits, evaluations, ways of thinking and acting. Imparting information may, or may not, help to develop right habits and attitudes. It depends in great measure on the teacher and what is in his or her mind as the information is being given and received.

We call attention once again to the articles by Brother Martin Broadwell, the third of which appears in this issue. We strongly encourage churches everywhere to think more seriously than in the past as to their objectives in the Bible classes. What a healthy thing it would be for the elders, or others, to draw up a specific list of aims and objectives for the whole teaching program. We all understand, of course, that the over-all aim is to develop truly devoted and dedicated followers of Christ. But how shall that be done? Will a mere "telling" of the Biblical facts achieve what we desire? And is the literature being used by the various classes such as will help the members develop as they should? How much thought and attention does the average elder in the average congregation give as to the content and effectiveness of the literature being used in the various classes?

The recent tragic division among the Lord's people should have been a terrific "eye-opener" as to how weak and ineffective had been the teaching done over a period of many years. Ignorance of simple Biblical principles was so abysmal and wide-spread that even thousands of preachers and scores of thousands of elders were incapable of making the most elementary application of Biblical truths. Not only so, but the bitterness and hostility aroused over all the land showed a monumental lack of Christian charity and brotherliness. Over and over again we have heard from brethren contemptuously dubbed "anti" by some of their most frenzied and rabid opponents, the ones exhibiting the least degree of common courtesy, much less brotherly compassion, were ordinarily found among the graduates of "our Christian colleges" and in the leadership of the biggest and most fashionable congregations in the urban centers! Conversely, their most reasonable and brotherly opponents came from the small communities, from among the poor and humble people who had been reared in rural congregations. Both groups were in error, of course; both the college-bred and the unsophisticated had accepted the idea of benevolent institutions and organized cooperatives.

But what a difference in their spirits! How much more of the gentleness of Christ was seen in the one group than in the other. How miserably lacking had been the "character training" of the big city churches, the college campuses, and the affluent families. Perhaps both groups had taught the same "facts" of the Bible; but one group had used this information far more effectively in developing character than had the other.

You are "teaching" your child? Of course you are! But what?

— F. Y. T.