What is your experience/background regarding this subject?
I grew up in a Christian home on the mission field, and – in one way or another – have been surrounded primarily by a Christian community for my whole life. So, in that sense, Christ and his Word have always been an important part of my life. I grew up hearing Bible stories and reading Scripture and going through all the motions a good Christian child is meant to go through. However, because it was so normal, by the time I went to college I was struggling to keep my relationship with God’s Word from simply being mundane, and I felt as though I was in a rut and did not know how to get out of it.
Once I got to college, though, I took a couple of required Bible classes and was shocked at how much I did not know and how deeply the Bible could be studied. My classes took me beyond anything I had ever done before, and that sparked a desire in me to continue that. This led me study Scripture in college for four years and another two in grad school. And as I learned more about God’s Word, God developed a desire in me to share what I have learned with others. Just as my teachers had opened my eyes to the richness of the Bible, I was being led to prepare to do the same for others.
Through all of my studies I had the chance to study the narratives and theology of the whole Bible. I learned Greek and Hebrew so that I could do this better by examining the text of Scripture in its original language. My teachers also introduced me to the world behind the Bible and showed me how the Jewish, Greco-Roman, and Ancient Near Eastern contexts in which the Bible were written help to illuminate what God was communicating through his Word. All of these things – and more – helped prepare me to come to Providence and share God’s Word with my students.
What makes you personally passionate about this subject?
I am passionate about teaching Bible because I feel that my story is similar to many of the students that I teach. I grew up surrounded by Christians and hearing about the Bible, and I came to feel that the Bible was something normal and mundane rather than special. And, although I knew it was important to read God’s Word, I did not really know what to do beyond that. And I know that there are many Christian students who feel the same way. But I had teachers in college who helped open my eyes to the depth and richness of God’s Word. They showed me how much more there is to the story of the Bible than I recognized, how beautiful the writing and stories are, and how applicable it all is to life. And my own experience makes me passionate about teaching because I hope to do for my students what my teachers did for me.
There are many teachers I could mention who inspired this understanding of and passion for God’s Word, but a time that stands out is from a class I took on Genesis. We spent the semester walking through the stories and layout of the entire book, but certain classes would focus on small sections of particular importance. On one such occassion we spent the class studying Genesis 15:6 – and nothing else! The class met once a week for three hours, and that week we spent three whole hours discussing one verse. I was blown away by the fact that the professor could help us think through such a small passage for that long, and that we could have kept going even after class ended. And, just like my professor, I want to help my students recognize just how much there is to the Bible and have a desire to know it more.
What is unique about how you educate students on this subject?
I emphasize the importance of studying the Bible carefully and within its original context. First, I have noticed that many people read the Bible so quickly and casually that they hardly pay attention to what they are reading. All of my students admit that sometimes they read a page of something and don’t remember anything they just read! So I teach my students to make observations on the text of the Bible. We will take class periods to study passages of Scripture and ask questions about what it says and means. I print the passage out on paper for them and have them not only read it, but to circle things, underline words and phrases, draw arrows to show connections, and use different colors to highlight different things. This helps them visualize what they are reading and slow down and pay attention to the words, rather than sleepwalk through the reading.
I also teach my students to try to understand the Bible as the original audience would have. We talk about how the Bible was written for all people, but not to all people. And we talk about how context determines meaning, so we should understand the original context of writing. Rather than assume what the Bible means to us is the most important thing – since we just so happen to be the ones currently reading it – we think about what the original audience thought it meant first, and then think about how that can be applied in our lives.
Why is this subject important for the future of each student?
Studying the Bible is important for all of my students because it prepares them to fulfill the mission of PCS. At Providence we approach education from a Christ-centered perspective and use the classical model of education to train students to impact their culture for Christ. But we cannot hope for them to impact their culture for Christ and his kingdom if they do know his Word, or what the gospel is, or how to live as God’s people. Their Bible classes give them a special opportunity to dive into God’s Word and to learn how to live as God has called them to. And, while we want to fulfill the mission of the school, even more fundamentally important is that our students have the opportunity to know and love God. All of the teachers at PCS help lead them in that, but the Bible classes have the special privilege of making that the entire focus.
What thoughts would you want to leave readers with? How can readers act on what you’ve shared?
At PCS we recognize that our role as educators is a partnership with the parents of our students. To use the Latin phrase, we teach in loco parentis – in place of the parents. So while the Bible classes at PCS are immensely important to the growth and maturity of our students, it is also vital that parents continue that education at home. It is important that they model Christian living to their own children, talk with them about the Bible and what they believe, and help inspire in them a love for God. It is through this partnership with the parents that we envision the mission of PCS being accomplished and our students truly growing to impact their culture for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.