Teaching the Bible in Public School

It looks as if Texas is not the only place one can find the Bible being taught as part of the public school curriculum. A school district in California has just unanimously passed a vote to include an elective class that teaches the Bible from the standpoint of its being a work of literature and history.

The school district must carefully craft this curriculum so as not to breach any California statutes and it must adhere to the state’s education code. Therefore, the class cannot actually promote Christianity, but merely teach “the Bible as a monumental piece of literature.”

This class will also seek to show the influence of the Bible on other areas of life and history such as “literature, art, music, culture, public policy and public debate.” The hope is that it will help give students a better understanding of the historical and social context of the writers of the various books of the Bible.

While some may feel that this is a good “first step,” I think I’d say that this is about all I would ask for. I would not seek to go any further because it would seem that anything more than this would really stretch, or potentially break, the “wall of separation between church and state.”

My hope and prayer is that other states and school districts would follow suite, provided that these classes are taught by people who truly understand the context and the message of the Bible rather than having the class taught by those who would try to twist what it says so that people do not get an accurate view of the scriptures themselves.

What needs to be avoided are things like, taking passages out of context to make them sound like they mean something that they don’t. Or taking passages in isolation without showing how they fit into the entire context of the Bible. One example here might be the issue of slavery. If all the instructors point out is Leviticus 25:44-45 or Exodus 20:21, this does not accurately represent the entirety of what the Bible teaches about slavery.

However, provided that the teachers of these courses take these types of things into account and present the Bible’s narratives for what they are and what they mean according to the entire body of work, that would seem to be beneficial to help bring more of an understanding of what the Bible is actually claiming to be about.

If accurately represented, even if only from a historical and literary context, I’m all for moving forward with this kind of thing. Though, that may be a lot to request in a secular educational environment. I guess we’ll see how it turns out.

Grace, love and peace.

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