Teach the Debate

When I was a teacher there was much discussion about how to teach controversial topics.

Many teachers question how they can teach things they don’t believe. Some teachers wonder if it is a sin to pretend to be neutral about issues on which they personally are not neutral. For example, abortion. If one believes that abortion is murder, is it a sin to teach about abortion from a neutral perspective?

The answer was always, “Teach the debate.” In other words, don’t teach just one side of the story. Teach about why intelligent thoughtful people who do care about right and wrong and very much want to do the right thing, don’t agree about what the right thing is.

You can do this about anything. Some examples that maybe aren’t quite as emotionally charged for most people can be useful as teaching examples. For example, most people don’t believe that a doctor who performs surgery to set your broken leg is violating you by deliberately giving you drugs that make you unconscious (anesthesia) and then deliberately cutting into your flesh while you are unconscious to perform the surgery. But some intelligent, thoughtful, caring and non-deluded people do believe that. Teach the debate. Make it come alive as a serious question about which every student ought to question why they hold the views they hold on this topic rather than just assuming that their own view is obviously right, and only hopelessly dumb or crazy or ignorant or weird people would think otherwise.

I feel the same way about the debates between Paul and James in the New Testament.

Clearly the New Testament, in particular the Books of Glalatians, Romans, and James (and others) record that differences of opinion did exist.

Some people worry about whether the Book of James contradicts the Book of Galatians regarding justification by faith alone. I ask myself, “Assuming that the Bible is the Word of God and all of it is true, why did God write things that seem contradictory to us into His Word?”

I don’t think it’s because God wanted to divide the Body of Christ into warring factions each of which teaches something slightly different, and each of which believes that they got it right while everyone else got it wrong and is destined for Hell.

I believe that God wants us to study and understand and think about and talk about and pray about the issues raised by the debate.

*** On a different note, requesting prayers for the absolutely wonderful author, writer, blogger, Christian missionary and teacher Jennifer Arimborgo who is ill and in need of prayer.

%d bloggers like this: