June 15, 2013
Teachers Talk - Mere Christianity in Education
J. Scott MacDonald, Teacher, Kingsway College, Oshawa, ON

“The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.”  -- C.S. Lewis
 
A former student posted this quotation on her Facebook page recently; it captivated my attention.  Aside from my understated beliefs that C.S. Lewis is a brilliant philosopher and insightful author, the fundamental aspects of this quote resonated within me.  It provoked me and made me think about its profundity.
 
Naturally, as an English teacher who teaches literature as a fundamental necessity in life, the primary message from this statement is obvious, but deep.  A quick search for “Christian books” on amazon.com resulted in a staggering 684,524 results. Obviously, this is not a scientific based bit of research, but one can safely assume that in those results, there is a wide range of concepts explored in the name of Christianity.  The plethora of Christian literature is overwhelming to say the least, clearly illustrating the start of Lewis’ quotation.  The greater aspect lies in the second portion of the statement.  In almost a chiasmic manner, Lewis provides a principle that we as Christians, and as Christian educators need to adopt.  Let me explain.
 
The primary level of interpretation shows that Lewis, a philosopher and writer, is promoting the need for Christians writing good, solid literature that emulates their beliefs and tenets.  When people evaluate Lewis’ Narnia series, they first and foremost see a fantasy world filled with unique creatures: notably a witch, a wardrobe and most importantly, a lion. Not the typical fare for “Christian” literature; however, upon further inspection, Lewis’ Christianity exudes from these books.  Being a Christian means allowing Christ to permeate all that one does, including writing literature.  This brings me to the crux of the matter.
 
The deeper analysis of this quote is where I want to go.  I look to see an application of this philosophy to Christian teachers.  We are very similar to literature – we each have our own stories, our experiences, and our baggage.  If we take Lewis’ statement to heart, it makes sound logic.  Now, the world does need Christian teachers; without that component, the second part of the analogy would be moot.  The meaning, though, that I wish to extrapolate, is that we need to be more than just the sum of our education.  We need to be more than repositories of SDA history, Ellen G. White’s writings, and Healthier Living.  That, in essence, is what I mean by being a Christian teacher.  Completing the quote, I’m sure you can see where I’m headed.  We need to be teachers of Christ.  We need to exemplify our tenets within our lesson plans, notably through our actions, our deeds, our statements, and our interactions.  We need to live the life, not just profess the knowledge.
 
So where does this place us?  I look at the crazy, hectic world of SDA education.  It is much busier and intense than any public sector teaching job I’ve ever had.  So often we look to our lesson plans as being the key factor in the education process – the SDA approved books, texts, lesson documents – and we sometimes forget the other aspect, the still, small voice that needs to speak through all we do and say with our priceless charges.  It’s like looking for Christ in Christmas – we need to ensure His presence is noticeable in all of our actions and interactions.
 
So I provide a charge to you today.  Our lives are consumed by grading, planning, government expectations, demanding parents and students, professional development, and that doesn’t even include our personal lives.  Especially at this time of year, when we are wrapping up ten months of roller coaster rides, we need to stop, and ponder on this simple quote which proffers a deeper idea that we need to do more than just spout dogma, we need to look to the Light and reflect Him.