Teachers (and apostles whose ministry has a large teaching component) can become enamoured of all the fascination little things they uncover in their study. Teachers get bored unless they are constantly learning, and they can get frustrated if they don’t have an avenue for sharing their newfound knowledge with others. Unfortunately, many people are happy to hear what the teacher has learned, but they are not necessarily committed to internalizing that knowledge or putting it into practice. In the church, this leads to congregations that are educated beyond their obedience. Unless the teacher is committed 100 percent to the teaching role (see Part One) the church will become a place where people gain information but not go through the process and journey of transformation.
The Western / Hellenistic manner of teaching has plagued the church for too long. Teaching that is linear, formulaic, and conceptual, rather than obedience oriented, separates truth from the way life really happens – which is far more of a mosaic pattern.
Knowledge of facts is a shallow form of learning and insufficient for the truths of God’s Kingdom. We are commanded to teach people not just to KNOW, but rather to OBEY all that Jesus commanded us (Matthew 28:19-20). For too many years, we have simply passed on information to passive audiences and called that teaching. But faithfulness to Jesus’ voice is what we need to see before we can truly say someone has learned anything. Unless people have made what they have learned such a valued part of their lives that they own it on a deeper level, the teacher has not truly facilitated learning. And because we learn more by teaching others than by being taught ourselves, perhaps the true test of learning is only when we pass along the lessons we have learned to others. But if teachers allow their lessons to simply accumulate each week in the minds of the people, doctrine soon becomes something to KNOW rather than something to PRACTICE.
Teachers can be so enthralled by Scripture that they begin to see it as the only solution to every problem – the all-purpose tool in the teacher’s toolbox. This same love for Scripture has caused some teachers to assume we no longer need apostles or prophets today because the completed canon of Scripture is all we need. In fact, the apostolic and prophetic gifts are wrongly seen by some teachers as a threat to the Scriptures. They would say the Bible is all we need, and if we simply follow it to the letter, everything will be great.
In an overreaction to cults that have embraced “other revelation” to add to the Bible, many evangelical teachers have cautioned their congregations to avoid all channels of revelation apart from the sixty-six books of the Protestant Bible. This extreme response also accentuated the role of the teacher as the most important gift in the church, and God is left with no other avenue to communicate His truth, revelation, and guidance than through the written revelation of Scripture and the teaching of that revelation by the ‘teachers”‘ in the church. As a result we are told that the ministry of apostles and prophets ended when the canon of Scripture was established – but, for some reason, the ministry of the teacher, pastor, and evangelist continues.
More next time…