Teachers are under attack. The war has engulfed all nations, bringing schools, universities, families, and all forms of training to their knees. As the old rock song shouted: “Teachers, leave those kids alone!”
To be a teacher in this world, is not only a vow of poverty, it is to volunteer for sterilization. The so-called father of modern education, James Dewey, redefined the idea of education from teaching to exposure. If a class leader will only expose students to new experiences, then real education can develop uniquely as each student figures out whatever truth works for them. The call is for teachers to become non-directing facilitators.
Years ago, I got confronted by a church leader in a large church, that teaching should only happen by the pastor in church and small group leaders should only facilitate. Control of the masses, by the elite at the top of any organization, is easier if mid-management stays out of the way.
But what does God say? Not that most care, but there are a few, who perhaps don’t realize they have swallowed worldly philosophy, and if highlighted may come to their senses and turn back to godly teaching.
The Holy Spirit gifts Christians to serve in various roles, none of which are stated as facilitators. God wants teachers to teach. He has specifically identified them in the top three positions within his Church (1 Cor 12:28). The Bible says this kind of teacher must be capable to presenting what is right as well as refuting error.
Yes, that means that grading still benefits from being red-lined and identified as needing correction, without fear that the poor little guppy will shrink into dysfunction. Soft-brained psychology has de-boned the holiday ham, and left education spineless. Boundaries are not harmful, they actually protect and distinguish, so travelers can appropriately navigate in a dynamic world with others.
The Bible teaches that no one can ever come to God unless they hear the truth through a teacher:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’…Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ…’Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.’” (Rom 10:14-18)
Teachers are called by God to present the good news of Jesus according to the revelation in Scripture. Genuine education has to be taught in line with God’s words. It cannot be self-discovered or claimed contrary to what is presented in Scripture. The words are in the Bible, but the ability to hear and receive it is restricted to getting it through a teacher.
In this regard, God requires truth and real education to be sought through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, as well as through Spirit-filled, human teachers. This is true, both of faith-teaching as well as fact-teaching. People are born with the need to be informed, and they do best if taught by those who know better, rather than by those who abdicate such authority.
Some have incorrectly interpreted John’s statement that “you do not need anyone to teach you”, as a dismissal of all teaching. The context (1 Jn 2) is very clearly applied to those who at one time were part of the church, but then left and rejected what was right, and were then “trying to lead you astray.” His statement is not a rejection of teachers, but of dependence on staying under teachers who were Christian, but then started teaching falsely and deceiving believers. The Holy Spirit in each believer is that faithful teacher in whom we are told to “remain in him”. We still need teachers, because God still uses human ministers; we just don’t need to stay connected to false-teachers in the Church.
One of those teachings, that is false, is to reject presenting right/wrong and true/false answers, and instead facilitate self-preference. The attempt to reject such identification is why many incorrectly suggest that truth is subjective to each person’s viewpoint. Truth may well be beyond the grasp of many, but factual accuracy remains very much accessible for those willing to teach and to be taught.
The problem with facilitation is it assumes that the answer is within a student and just needs to be skillfully extracted. Facilitation means to enable, without dictating to the student. It also implies that there is no such thing as a reliable standard for truth, reality, right, bad, or continuous law.
That philosophy, of inherent goodness, is opposite of God’s revealed truth. Mankind’s orientation has become completely evil since that first sin, and when absent of God can never do anything of lasting good. Useful education and truth cannot be found within.
That lie of finding internal wisdom is how Eve was deceived in the Garden, when the snake told her that she could be like God if she exposed herself to her own experience by eating contrary to what God taught. God’s teaching was dumped for Satan’s facilitation. That is the core of sin.
Truth must be taught. Education requires presentation of what a teacher has received, to those who have yet to receive it. As one Bible writer noted:
“A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” (Jn 3:27)
Jesus was rightly called the Great Teacher (Rabbi). In contrast to the facilitator approach that was popular with Bible teachers in his day, he taught with authority (Mt 7:29). In fact, his students were only allowed to remain in class, if they accepted his teachings, even when they did not understand the answers. “Where else would we go,” Peter responded at one point, because Jesus taught truth.
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river.” (Psa 48:17-18)
The Lord was a teacher, not a facilitator, because the truth of God must come to us, not be discovered from within or by our own efforts. He was not afraid to say, “You have answered correctly”, or “you do not understand” the text or reality. His students came to learn from their teacher, what they did not already know. They needed to be taught what was right, not just what was observable.
The world hates this dependence. To become their own god, humans need to reject teachers. The irony, is that Satan has no intention of giving up teaching. The attempted shift toward facilitation simply pushes teaching underground, through hidden agendas. Universities, art, media, TV, and social media stars, push private ideologies while claiming to just be guiding their audiences. As a result, those who disagree with them are ridiculed, and subjected to violent abuse, for not accepting their “hidden” teaching.
The reality is that students do learn better and retain more through self-involvement. Personal investment does make a huge difference in learning; and, facilitating a person to reach toward what they are fully capable of attaining, is often more effective than directive-style instruction. Coaching a skilled team is best when on the play field, but teaching is necessary to develop such skill, to inform on rules of the game, and to prepare on how to best confront the competition.
In this sense, directing the learning toward what can be confirmed and observed as right, as well as identifying what is wrong or contrary to scientific evidence, remains a central need by students from skilled teachers. Then, within those guidelines, students can be facilitated to pursue their own discovery of what works and doesn’t work, without concern of harm or distortion of reality. Students need a safe and healthy environment in which to learn; a place where abuse is called wrong, and harmful exposures are prevented.
In other words, there is a place for facilitation, but leading education or the discovery of what is right or wrong, is not appropriate. Leaders need to teach when the information is external and unknown. Facilitation should only be a subset approach that teachers can use, not a replacement of teachers. A young child needs a parent-like teacher to show them how to cross the road safely, rather than a facilitator who exposes them to highway traffic and lets them self-learn.
As a student progresses in a subject, that is when directive presentations can become less frequent, and more facilitated discovery ought to increase. There will still be a need however, even among advanced doctoral students, for identifying fallacies of logic, and misdiagnosis of evidence. So whether in a home, school, or training facility, early education should be taught, and successes in learning should benefit from greater freedoms of exploration, all while retaining the teachers oversight, until mastery is demonstrated.
Because this worldly error, of replacing teaching with facilitation, has infected large portions of the Christian church, seeking truth has widely been replaced with a preference for sharing opinions. Getting group members to share their observations and thoughts has taken a damaging priority over speaking God’s words. Many people have become addicted to their own voices and “refuse to love the truth and so be saved”. Teachers have largely been exorcised out of the Church.
But God will preserve those who refuse to bow to the Baal of human philosophy or high education. Honor those who teach carefully from God’s word. Don’t be misled by those who reference God’s words, but don’t actually speak truth. Support those who show godly evidence of speaking with authority, while restraining self-promotion.
In terms of recognizing the God-given gift to teach:
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” (1 Pet 4:11)
“If it is teaching, let him teach” (Rom 12:7).
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1)
Teachers are very important to God. He is careful in selecting those he wants to direct others and will hold them to a higher accounting because they have such a significant potential impact on the development of others. The biblical warning is that not many should presume to become a teacher before God. Certainly, there are many wolves behind teacher’s desks, both in the world and in churches, so students beware. Yet, teachers who teach rightly have beautiful feet!
All Christians are being trained to become Priests in God’s Kingdom; leaders who will represent and teach others before God. So regardless as to your role today, hold up the arms of faithful teachers you know, and study to show yourself approved as one worthy to become a teacher of God for eternity.
God bless teachers who are not afraid to still teach!