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Solid, Christ-Filled Teaching

Prayer, the written Word of God, and preaching: These are the necessary steps in order to begin spiritual development. After spiritual development has started, the next that is needed is teaching, teaching the Word of God.

The teaching that we need for spiritual development is one that is solid, and Christ-filled.

Solid teaching is one that is based on the Word of God. Many teachers in the church say that they teach from the Word of God, but actually they teach from the words of human beings.

Teaching Which Is Not From God’s Word

They teach from the words of human beings if their purpose in teaching is to entertain. There are many teachers in the churches who have as one of their main purposes in teaching to entertain their students. They want to be thought of by their students as good teachers. So, they make all kinds of gimmicks to make the students interested in their teaching. This may be entertaining teaching, but it is not solid.

They teach from the words of human beings if what they really want is to share their own peculiar views with their students. For example, there are teachers who are so convinced of the doctrine of predestination such that they do not miss a chance to convince others of this doctrine. The doctrine of predestination is correct and beneficial if understood properly but it cannot be the theme of all our teaching, so that before we even open our mouths we have already decided to insert it in the course of our teaching. This is not solid teaching for spiritual development.

They teach from the words of human beings if they quote extensively from secular or religious sources and quote minimally from the Scriptures. There are teachers of the faith who in order to impress their students of their learning, quote from the classics of secular or religious writings in an extensive manner. They quote from Virgil, Cicero, Seneca, Thomas Aquinas, Erasmus, Emerson and others. Then they quote only a verse or two from the Scriptures. This is not solid teaching.

Solid teaching is one that is steeped in the texts and spirit of the Scriptures.

There is a teaching that is heavily inundated with texts from the Scriptures but the spirit of the Scriptures is not there. The impression a listener gets is that the passages from the Scriptures are used to prove or bolster the opinion of the teacher, even if that is not the sense of the Scriptures as a totality. An example of this kind of teaching may be getting all the passages about the prohibition on the eating of certain types of meat and then expounding on each of these texts. Paul the Apostle said that Christian living is not about eating and drinking, is not about prohibited meats.

Meaning of Christ-filled Teaching

Not only do we need solid teaching, teaching that is based on the Scriptures, we also need Christ-filled teaching. What is meant by this is that we teach Christ, the person of Christ. We illumine his personality so that we can know him more in a personal manner and thus love him more, serve him more and enjoy him more.

There are teachings which are insight driven. The teacher wants to share new insights with his or her students. He or she wants to surprise them with new ideas from the Word of God. This is not Christ-filled teaching. What we need for our spiritual development is not insights or new ideas but the Truth, a personal reality.

There are teachings which are morality driven. The teacher wants to drill moral principles into his or her students, like the principle that honesty is the best policy. Most teachings wound up as moral exhortations. This is not the teaching that will help us in spiritual development. It is not Christ-filled. It may make up morally upright Christians, but not necessarily spiritually developed.

John Paul II was insistent on the point that what we teach is supposed to be Christ, just as the teacher also needs to be Christ himself using only the human teacher. He mentioned this in his apostolic exhortation on catechesis, and he wrote this again in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The teaching which develops our spirit is one that gives us an ever growing personal knowledge of Jesus and an ever increasing appreciation for all his worth to us. This is because spiritual development is really the development of the life of Jesus in us. It is not our life, no matter how good, that we develop in spiritual development. It is the life of Jesus operating in us, through us, with us, and for us.

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