Imagining Christian Teaching
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“We don’t need books about teaching so much as books that teach.”
Considering Jesus himself taught in a variety of ways—parable, discussion, miracle performance, ritual observance—it seems that there can be no single, definitive, Christian method of teaching. How then should Christian teaching happen, especially in this time of significant change to theological education as an institution?
Mark Jordan addresses this question by first allowing various depictions and instances of Christian teaching from literature to speak for themselves before meditating on what these illustrative examples might mean for Christian pedagogy. Each textual scene he shares is juxtaposed with a contrasting scene to capture the pluralistic possibilities in the art of teaching a faith that is so often rooted in paradox. He exemplifies forms of teaching that operate beyond the boundaries of scholarly books and discursive lectures to disrupt the normative Western academic approach of treating theology as a body of knowledge to be transmitted merely through language.
Transforming Fire consults writers ranging from Gregory of Nyssa to C. S. Lewis, and from John Bunyan to Octavia Butler, cutting across historical distance and boundaries of identity. Rather than offering solutions or systems, Jordan seeks in these texts new shelters for theological education where powerful teaching can happen and—even as traditional institutions shrink or vanish—the hearts of students can catch fire once again.
A Little Advice
1. Christian Traditions and Shapes of Teaching
2. Recognizing Scenes of Instruction
Part One: Bodies
3. Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Macrina
4. Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology
Part Two: Sciences
6. Bonaventure, The Mind’s Path into God
7. Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be
8. Theology and the Limits of Knowing(ness)
Part Three: Moving Pictures
9. Teresa of Ávila, The Interior Castle
10. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
11. The Use and Abuse of Imagination
Part Four: Children
12. C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
13. Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
14. Education and Resistance
Part Five: Barriers
15. Johannes Climacus (with the Assistance of Søren Kierkegaard), Philosophical Crumbs
16. Simone Weil, Letters and Essays
17. Locked Gates
Conclusion: Finding or Making Shelter
Suggestions for Further Reading