Category Archives: Teaching


The professor is in class to incite, cajole, inspire, and assign matters so that a young man or woman reads for the first time a book they may never have heard of. This is what he owes them. They want to know, moreover, not just what Plato had to say but what their teacher has to say. Yves Simon, in a famous passage, that I never fail to stress, tells us that there are three kinds of students: those only interested in grades, those who already know everything, and the eminently teachable, those who will allow him, in a short time in their youth, to take them through things which it took him into old age to figure out. The professor hopes that they all finally become “eminently teachable” and that he is worthy of teaching them.

From James Schall,”A Final Gladness,” The Last Lecture at Georgetown





Watching the video I posted yesterday reminds me of a simple, yet widely neglected truth: Christians must wrestle with the beliefs of their faith.  We are now embarrassed to say doctrine and theology.  Sounds too impractical.  If people come to that tragic conclusion, it is either the teacher’s fault or it could be the student’s fault.  But it is never the subject of vibrant and life-giving theology.  And notice how I felt compelled to modify theology.  Maybe I am too defensive!

What happens when we mainly attract people to church with the social benefits, yet they don’t really understand much of what the Christian faith is about?  Well, if they get troubled and want to ask probing questions, they might be told good Christians don’t struggle with such things.  I’ve heard my share of such horror stories.

Christianity is true, but rightly understood it is beautiful, compelling, worth everything we are and have.


Rita Pierson

TED is short for Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  TED provides short and creative talks by various leaders in their respective fields.  

Rita Pierson, pictured above, taught public school for forty years. She recently died, but left a terrific seven minute speech at TED:


There are events in everyone’s life which make a deep impact.  One for me occurred while sitting in a Sunday School class.  I was a young Christian at the time just beginning my seminary studies.
The class was being taught by a likeable Dallas seminary graduate.  He had been a pastor for many years.  There were about seventy of us in the class.  Yes, I do recall well many of these details and you will soon know why!
Our teacher was speaking on that controversial issue of whether the full humanity of Jesus demands that He could have sinned.  Jesus obviously did not sin, but does real temptation carry with it the possibility to sin?
Our teacher asked if there were any questions and here is where I learned a big lesson.  A Cal Tech graduate who is a diligent student of Scripture (reminds me of my dear friend, Dr. David McCoy) raised his hand.  The Cal Tech scientist graciously, but meticulously started to show the flaws in the Dallas Seminary grad’s teaching.  It became painfully clear that the pastor had not prepared, not just for that particular lesson, but more broadly had not put preparation as a high goal upon leaving seminary. 
The atmosphere in the room was tense, even awkward.  The winsomeness of both teacher and inquisitor quelled the tension a bit, but only a bit! 
So if you are called to teach don’t become so enamored with the platform of influencing people that you fail to prepare!


Dwight Pentecost was nearing seventy years old when I had him as a professor in the early 1980s.  And he kept teaching and teaching at Dallas Seminary, all the way into his late nineties.  He recently went to be with the Lord having just passed his ninety-ninth birthday!
There are many distinct things I recall about Dr. P (his nickname).  There was his humor.  There was his genuine care for students which I experienced firsthand.  And there was his reverence for God’s Word.  He taught us through it line by line with no notes, except those that were already in his Bible.
A tribute page from Dallas Seminary:


Grant Horner teaches Renaissance literature at the Master’s College.  He is a stellar teacher and terrific guy.   

He came to Christ from a dark past.  He was also not a good student…until becoming a Christian.  This is a page out of his Bible.  He believes, as I do (and my wife definitely does!) that it is good to get tactile with your reading including your Bible.

Here is Grant’s Bible reading program followed by him working his magic with a group of high school students:


About five years ago, I spoke at Vanderbilt University.  I was invited by Professor Carol Swain. Carol’s story is truly amazing.  She dropped out of high school, got her GED along with a slew of other degrees, and ended up teaching at places like Princeton and now Vanderbilt.

Here is a six minute video on her incredible story: