Teaching Religion

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, Oct 10, 2008.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    As some of you know I am a history instructor at a community college here in North Carolina. You may also know that I also have a MA in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. As such, my department chair (ie...boss) is interested in having me teach a religion course next semester. This has been mentioned before but it has never panned out. They usually end up adding history classes to my schedule and taking away the religion. I don't know what religion course I might be asked to teach. I would happily teach Old Testament Introduction, New Testament Introduction, or Religion In America. However I am not sure how I would approach World Religions. Anyone who knows me, or has kept up with my blog and posts here, knows that I am not one to be tolerant when it comes to different religions. I strongly believe that there is only one way to the Father, one way to be saved, and that is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6, Acts 4:12). I am struggling with how to teach World Religions if that is indeed what I am asked to teach. I think I would just say "these are the historical facts about (name of religion)" and give the basic historical issues. That is the way I deal with the rise of Islam when I teach Western Civilization I. However that would be much more of a history class than a religion class. It would also get rather boring for the students (not to mention me). I would like to make it interesting (as I do my history courses).

    Any advice?
     
  2. StefanM

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    You can teach the doctrines of different religions from a neutral perspective. You don't have to be Muslim to explain Muslim theology. You can compare elements shared by the different religions, and you can contrast their opposing elements.

    You can expose the students to the different sects in each of the religions, and you can bring up some of the major points of contention.

    All of these things are neither sectarian nor boring.
     
  3. Analgesic

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    It's possible to explain the plain facts of different religions from an imperfect but relatively neutral perspective. Having said that, I'm not sure if it's possible for Martin to do so, based upon his own assessment.

    There's two problems: first, the most useful classes will have a strong critical component where students are encouraged to stringently examine the subject(s) at issue. I imagine it would be difficult for Martin to "neutrally" teach the tenets of other faiths with the same coherency as Christianity, and conversely, difficult to demonstrate and/or accept as valid criticisms of the Christian faith.

    Secondly, even if such a critical component is set aside in favor of a more mild "compare and contrast" survey course, the structure of the class and the validity of the conclusions reached will almost certainly be affected by which points are chosen to compare and contrast and how those points of reference are framed.

    In this case, I'd suggest teaching a survey course on the history of world religions. This would provide a small introduction to the various religions while focusing on your strengths as a history teacher without opening up the can of worms that is value judgments.
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    Using Josh McDowell's "HAndbook of Today's Religion" you could teach it as "comparative religions" - laying out the first lectures describing what religion is, how it develops, etc (9 steps - I've taught the course) and then deal with the world religions by region

    I broke it up into
    Orthodox Christianity
    ~Western: Roman
    ~Eastern: Orthodox
    ~Protestant
    ~Evangelical

    Sectarian Christian
    ~Various US Christian "cults" (as we think of them)
    ~Various World-wide Christian "cults"

    Eastern Religions
    ~Buddhism
    ~Shinto
    ~Confuscian
    ~Taoism

    Subcontinuent Religions
    ~Hindu
    ~Sikh
    ~Zoroastrian

    Middle Eastern Religions
    ~Judaism
    ~Islam

    Political Religions/Philosophies
    ~Communism
    ~Bahai
    ~Many others

    Tribal Religions
    ~American Indian
    ~African
    ~Folk religions
    ~Noin-religious/atheism
     
  5. Rhetorician

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    Teaching World Religions

    Martin,

    I have been teaching WR for about 7 or 8 years. We use Huston Smith's World Religions. It has been one of the primary texts for WRs that many universities have employed. It has an attendant workbook that can easily serve as a study guide that would be helpful for the student as well as novice teacher.

    I have a syllabus that I have used and tweaked over the years. I have also taught WR in an online, i.e., Blackboard delivery system. PM or email me and I will be glad to sent you a copy. I would highly recommend using it. Smith has personally studied as a devotee in many of the WRs. He is a Methodist by tradition but tips his hat to all in a synergistic manner. That is where it may be offensive to you but would really serve a university or community college setting. Smith'sbook has Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, & Islam. It also has a chapter or two on the Primal Religions, which I never seem to teach?

    Let me know if I can be of further help. I have found this just right for what we do.

    FYI!

    "That is all."
     
    #5 Rhetorician, Oct 11, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2008
  6. Martin

    Martin
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    I knew you guys would help me out with some great ideas. Thanks a bunch! I really like Analgesic's idea of teaching a survey course on the history of world religions instead of a doctrine focused class. I also like Dr. Bob's outline. Maybe since I will be teaching it as a survey of the history of world religion it would be best to look at them in their historical order. StefanM's idea of bringing up the major points of disagreement between the religions is a great idea. However I am not so sure that I could get away with that since my tendency would be to get a bit to critical with all except Christianity. But it is a great idea StefanM. I can use more ideas if you guys have them. Rhetorician I will PM you. Thanks for your help yet again!!

    Thanks!
     
  7. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    Martin Help!

    Martin,

    Did that syllabus give you any help? I hope it did! With what you received from the other scholars above I am sure you have more than enough to get started. I am available for consultation if needed. And I work fairly cheap.:laugh:

    "Stay by the stuff!"
     
  8. Martin

    Martin
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    Rhetorician,

    Yes, it is proving to be a big help! Thanks much :thumbs: .

    Martin.
     
  9. Humblesmith

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    You guys that teach WR in secular schools.........

    Do they insist on anything as far as the perspective that you teach it? Are your hands tied at all to give responses to their positions?
     

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