April 6, 2014
Teaching religion at secular universities to help students find a way of life will still not confer the benefits of religious community and practice.
I understand both of the thought processes in this article.
I am new to the Christian faith (under 10 years.) My parents were both baptized but didn't continue going to Church. They allowed me to find my own faith.
Being an adult new believer, I didn't have the support, guidance and mentor. All I had were the Church body on Sundays.
I am very grateful for the people in my life who "planted seeds." The final seed, from a person whom I was very fond, was the life changing seed I needed. I finally began to understand who that was talking to me and telling me not to do things throughout my life.
Had these people not planted seeds, I would not be where I am now.
I am God's servant. I volunteer almost all of my free time. I hug people who are in need. I feed them. I cloth them. I listen. I help other institutions help people in need too.
If I may offer a slight push back... isn't it possible that the informative side of things would plant a seed that pushes the student to find more? For me, a big part of finding Jesus, and a big part of appreciating the nuance and truth of other religions, was story. I would imagine that if religious leaders were teaching the courses, even if focused on dogma and ritual, their lessons would be ripe with story. As an academic at heart (and I understand not all students are academically minded) information mixed with testimony would push me to further study, further investment. I can see this doing the same, to the point of finding community. Perhaps a long shot, but I don't think too long.
Thanks Jimmy and Danzur for your comments. Thank you for reminding us the power of "seeds" planted! Danzur, thanks for your testimony.
I guess I may have came across as more negative on "seed-planting" than I intended. However, as Danzur's testimony suggests, just planting a seed or two without more follow up seeds, or watering, often don't amount to much. Danzur's story shows how it takes many seed planters over time - in effect, a community of believers across time - to nurture faith.
Normally, I think mentors - both formal and informal ones - and a community are the means whereby seeds are nurtured and watered to grow.
But, of course, the Holy Spirit has been known to work with less, which is why, in your point Jimmy, that it may not be a long shot after all.
So, I concur, there is value in the proposal, which is why I ended by saying I think it's a step in a positive direction. The seeds planted can be used by God to nurture someone's faith and life. But normally, God uses a community of believers to do so.
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