In a math class, when we talk about “Biblical Integration” one might think that it would be difficult to go beyond scale models of Noah’s ark or getting into numerology (which is really not about math.) Where there are some interesting demonstrations of math in scripture, such as that the bronze sea in Chronicles 4:2 demonstrates the ratio between circumference and diameter of a circle (Pi), simply using biblical examples of things that could be shown just as well elsewhere misses the point. The fact is that integration is intended to be, well, integrated. It’s not just content material. It’s class policy and conduct. It’s attitudes and interactions with students. It's interdisciplinary. It is, quite simply, the Word of God made manifest in all facets of the teaching practice and content. So, I try to do a variety of things, including sneaking subtle devotional challenges into lessons. The following picture is of my whiteboard. I bet you can’t even pick out the Bible part.
Ok, so I’m not known for my subtlety. The point is that as I spend an hour each day with groups of kids that need to know who they are in Christ (or even to know if they are in Christ,) Sometimes we need to talk about the nature of what they believe and their attitudes toward scripture. This one has been on my board for a few weeks and I have tried to work through the implications of each question as they consider them in bits and pieces as time has allowed. The way we all answer these questions defines our faith and will help evaluate whether or not we are really biblical Christians. So, I thought I’d pose the same considerations here. This is not exhaustive, of course and the Sunday school answers are a quick yes, yes, yes. However, it was interesting in my high school class how quickly the emphatic “yes” evaporated as we dug into the questions and they realized that if they are honest with themselves, they are not as biblical as they like to believe.
- Is the Bible true? Does it merely “contain” truth or does it determine Truth?
Is it “true” yes, but is that small “t” truth or big “T” truth? What is the difference? Well, what is the difference between a small “g” god and the big “G” God? Answer, one is not God! The small gods were deities of the plains or the hills or fertility where God is universal. The point to make here is that nobody, even critics, can deny that the Bible says some true things: a historical fact, a proper attitude, a moral teaching. However, what do we do when we read something in the Bible that disagrees with what we already believe to be true or acceptable aside from scripture. Do we seek out the interpretation that makes scripture align with our contemporary view (as in the rapid realignment of the western evangelical church on the issue of gender orientation) or do we crash headlong into the personal crisis of meeting up with our own fallen thinking? How do you feel about creation and the timetable for the origin of the universe? Was Mary really an actual virgin? Is Jesus still coming back? The challenge to my students was not a laundry list of all the things they should believe, but to get them to think about how they go about discerning Truth. If you argue from scripture and seek its true meaning, then you argue appropriately. My wife pointed out to me further:"what about the promises of Scripture?" Oh yea, we all say the Bible is true, yet do we live like its promises are an imminent reality? Hmmm.
- Is the Bible relevant? Does it shape your cares? Does it inform that which informs you?
Sorry to all you sports fans, but does your team really matter? Is the time, energy and resources invested in athletic competition a demonstration of biblical concern? Why do you care? Does our pursuit of comfort and stability conform with Jesus' teaching? Do we seek to serve the broken or adore the affluent? Why do you care about what you care about? Should we not wish to answer “because the Bible tells me so”? How has the Bible influenced the thoughts of the men and women who have influenced your thoughts? Where do you go for understanding on controversial issues? Who and what is the most respectable in your life? Who do we seek to please? Make a list, it might be interesting.
- Is the Bible enough? Do you look beyond it for deep meaning? Without it, would your life and worldview be dismantled?
Do you look to scripture for spiritual things but to your secular financial adviser for money matters? Do you meditate on the Word of God to gain peace about who you are in Christ? Does your personality assessment have a bigger impact on your self identity than the person and work of Jesus? If you landed on a deserted island with only your Bible, would you still live a fulfilled life? If you failed at everything you did your entire life, struggled with poverty and depression and died penniless, half-starved and alone, yet did it faithfully with your Bible in hand, would your life be a success? Would your children say so? Would they claim in your epitaph that “they had nothing in this world but that tattered old Bible, but in the end, it provided for their needs…” Can there be faith without Scripture? Can you fulfill your need for “god” without the Bible? Would your day look any different in a practical sense? No more guilt? No more restraint? No more “sin”? Would you be free or would you be enslaved? The real question is would you be any different at all?! What would you do with your money? What would you do with your time? How would you treat other people or yourself? If the answer is that things would pretty much be the same, then the Bible is not currently enough! Being enough means that it provides sole sufficiency for the core of who we are. If the Bible alone is sufficient and it is suddenly removed, then how could life not become insignificant and its other elements crumble?)
These are the kinds of things that matter to me. These are the kinds of things that I want my students to wrestle with, even in a math class. This is why I do what I do...I hope :)