Category Archives: Teaching


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:


“Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a new powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story, one so inclusive that it gathers all the bits of our past and our present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into our future so that we can take the next step . . . If you want to change a society, then you have to tell an alternative story.”

(Ivan Illich, HT: Justin Buzzard)

Both Augustine in City of God and Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles showed how the Christian story was the best and most compelling.  I plan to write on it in the near future.


A few preliminary matters…

Wayne Grudem approached me in 1992 to be the first director of what has now become the “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”  I said “no” mainly because my interests are far too diverse to focus on any single issue.

I lean towards a more “conservative” (or commonly called complementarian position) when it comes to gender roles.  I use the word lean by design as there are some practical implications which continue to nag.

Recently, I had an email exchange with a gracious person who holds a Ph.D in New Testament and who happens to hold a complementarian position.  We talked about my concerns, but I found his perspective less than persuasive.  Here are three issues I shared:

•It strikes me as arbitrary to allow women to teach the Bible when it comes to the written word, but not to the oral word.  For example, many conservatives used to quote Susan Foh’s work, Women and the Word of God, but they would not have someone like her preach from the pulpit.  So her book can inform the sermons of pastors, but she wouldn’t be allowed to preach.  Many other examples could be added.

•Most complementarians extol the value of women teaching children’s Sunday school, yet would not allow women to teach adult males.  Are we then saying that children have less value or that it is not so dangerous to deceive the minds of our little ones?  Jesus had some pretty tough things to say about those who lead children astray.

•Why the virtual silence about Beth Moore speaking at the Passion conference?  John Piper, whom I respect very much, has never to my knowledge raised any concern.  Why the silence not just from him, but of so many others?  My interlocutor believes things like the Passion conference are different from the local church.  Granted, one could argue there is some distinction, but I find making a sharp disjunction unpersuasive.

So what do you think?  I have read many of the answers of complementarians on these matters and they strike me as forced.

I believe women can teach mixed groups as long as they are under the authority of godly men.  I gladly admit I could be wrong, but I also find it odd that my own position is hardly ever mentioned as a viable one within the complementarian camp.








A few months ago I filmed an episode of “Moore Engaging” at the Harvard Business School.  Preparing for that interview got me thinking…about how Sunday school classes are typically run. Strange connection I know, but bear with me.

How would it work if we ran Sunday school classes like Harvard’s case method?  I am dead serious.  People would prepare beforehand and the teacher would expertly guide the conversation. In the video below you will see how much more preparation the teacher does in comparison to the student. The Harvard business faculty are zealously committed to their own preparation so they can guide well.  

I know.  This is too intense for Sunday school.  Perhaps, but look how Paul says those of us going for the imperishable wreath ought to train.  Much more than those who prepare like crazy for the perishable one (I Cor. 9:24-27)!

Take a look at this video and see if you think I am crazy for making the suggestion.  It could bring new life to the old Sunday school!