Believe it or not: A Christian School Teacher Can Be a Pagan Teacher

Too often the effectiveness of Christian teaching is judged by the Christian personality of the teacher. Is he “spiritual”? Is he “committed”? Does he radiate Christ? Is he a joyful Christian? Is he born again? Saved? If the answers are affirmative, then it is judged that the teaching must be good and Christian.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is important that the teachers be “spiritual,” “committed,” born again Christians. Too often such characteristics are assumed—not assured. The result is that some Christian teachers ought not to be teaching. They are not matured enough Christians. They lack spiritual depth and sensitivity. They do not live close to God: accordingly they are not living epistles. Such a serious character defect hurts their teaching. Good teaching presupposes that teachers will be dedicated Christians.

Yet, believe it or not, in spite of their godly Christian character, many Christian teachers are pagan teachers. They teach in a God-less, pagan way.

Christianity can be caught and taught. Through an exemplary life of a teacher, and without any words, Christianity can be caught by the students. But at the same time, in addition, it should also be taught. This is not always the case.

Sometimes, the finest of Christians give courses that are completely secularistic, humanistic, and devoid of a Biblical perspective. This happens all the time in the state schools, if Christian teachers are sensitive to the Supreme Court rulings. These born again teachers instruct without making the Bible the principal guiding force in their instruction. The content of their courses is God-less, Christ-less and Bible-less: that is, the content is pagan.

“What is true in the state schools can also be true in the Christian schools. The only difference is that in the government’s schools the teachers are required to give pagan instruction, whereas in the Christian schools they are not. Yet, because of a lack of knowledge of how to teach in a Christian way, many Christian school teachers are actually giving pagan instruction in a Christian school. They do not intend to do so; they even want to teach Christianly; and they are certainly fine Christians. But the fact remains that their instruction is pagan.

In history classes, for example, some godly Christian teachers are teaching facts, giving many dates, describing important past events, but all without a distinctive Christian perspective. The individual and societal events are not judged in the light of God’s revealed will. There is an opening prayer, a Christian atmosphere, a Christian teaching personality, but the instruction itself is pagan—it is not dominated by a Biblical perspective.

In other words, as our title says: A Christian school teacher can be a pagan teacher.

Dr. Edwin H. Palmer is Executive Secretary of the Committee  of Bible Translation of the New York Bible Society.