Bringing Christ to Class (Reflections on B. B. Warfield’s The Religious Life of Theological Students #4)

For all of its incredible benefits, classical Christian education can be dangerous. If we educate students to be excellent thinkers and communicators but they fail to learn virtue, we have created monsters. Among these dangers, I think two lie before students in classical Christian education with special respect to their faith. The first danger is that students learn a lot of truth about God but do not sense His presence. Over time, they come to believe that the things they learn about God are untrue because they do not feel the sense of His presence in their classes, particularly Bible or theology class. A second danger is that students believe that their Bible and theology class can replace individual spiritual disciplines, corporate worship, and participation in the local church. Both of these problems have a similar cause—a failure to recognize that a student must encounter God outside of the classroom if he or she is to truly meet God in the classroom.

B. B. Warfield understood this reality when he wrote, “If you do not find Christ in the conference room it is because you do not take him there with you.” Likewise, “no man can fail to meet with God in the sanctuary if he takes God there with him.” [2] Students who fail to commune with God in class do so, Warfield says, because they have not brought God there with them. They have compartmentalized their lives, and though Christ is in the church, they have not brought Him to school, thinking He doesn’t have a place there. Perhaps also common is that many students do not bring Christ to the classroom because they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus at all. They may know information about Him, but they fail to experience His presence because they do not pursue it, cultivate it, or even desire it.

Students in classical Christian schools cannot rest on the school’s Christian foundation in place of cultivating their own personal faith any more than going to a church makes one holy. The student who does not cultivate a relationship with Jesus will not experience Him in the classroom, and a classroom without Jesus is, for that student, a sin and a corrupted education. Certainly we as teachers can help students move beyond the information towards formation, but only Christ can bring about transformation.  So the best thing we as teachers can do is to encourage our students to cultivate a relationship with Jesus and remind them that the classroom is precisely the place that they should invite Jesus to join them. When students bring Jesus with them to class, they cannot help but meet Him there.

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[1]B. B. Warfield, The Religious Life of Theological Students (Philadelphia: P & R Publishing, 1983), 2.

[2]Ibid.

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