Why choose religion?
- Why do we believe what we do? What is the basis people use? - We all have strong beliefs, but most of them are unexamined and the reasons why we hold to these beliefs/opinions, if examined, would probably be found to be inadequate. Some of these inadequate reasons might include family background, everyone else is doing this, nation/school and so on we grew up in, male/female, what is popular at the moment, some personal experience perhaps, good or bad, it works for me at an emotional level and so on. Most people find it very difficult to confront these beliefs and the more important the belief, that is the more it shapes or defines our lives (our so called Core beliefs), then the more we resist examining them, least they are found to be inadequate and we need to change. This applies to all people, Christians and non-Christians alike. It is part of hiding from the light because we are more interested in things like comfort or personal goals then the truth. Yet, it is the truth which will set us free and it is to the truth we are called. Students need to be challenged to start examining both what they believe and why they believe.
- Why should we believe in Jesus? What is being risked if we do not? - God not only call us to believe but gives us reasons why we should believe. The Christian faith is a reasonable faith. This means that it is based on evidence and accords with logic or reason. It does not mean however that it is confined to this natural world or that it does not contain elements which go behind our knowledge or our ability to understand. It is, in fact, supernatural in origin and nature. This means that on the one hand there are evidences which can be examined and discussed, such as the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, or the evidence from nature (of example design) which tells us about God (see Romans 1:18-23), while on the other hand the final ground of faith is a supernatural revelation of God by God through the Holy Spirit. The implication of this is that faith based on evidence/reason can only go so far. The final step is for God to open our eyes so that we know him. Indeed, without God moving in our hearts we will not stop to hear the evidences we can understand in the first place, let alone hear God’s voice. The application of this for the teacher is that we must fight a battle in prayer for our students so that they will be open to hear and consider what God is saying to them.
- How do our choices and lifestyles reflect what we believe in? - All of our actions, our values and our choices flow from what we fundamentally believe about the nature of the universe. Most people do not stop to reflect on this, and whether or not there is a conflict between what they say they believe and how they act. In fact, it is common for people to say they believe one thing but their actions say they believe something else. A point in fact is that according to census figures most people in Australia believe in God in one form or another, with about 65% describing themselves as Christians. Yet, by their actions and values one would have to conclude that most of them are actually atheists, because they live as if God does not exist. It is this connection which needs to be examined.
- Broadening perspectives by including other culture’s perspectives on life approaches eg. African, Asian, Indigenous vs.WASP - one of the contributions of Post-Modernism is to highlight the extent to which we are shaped by the cultural environment in which we grew up in or in which we currently live. Some claim that all our beliefs are nothing but cultural artifacts and simply serve various functions within society. This position denies the existence of God who created all things and our being made in his image, capable of knowing him and knowing truth. However, the effect of our culture on our beliefs is well established. Psalm 19:12-14 contains the cry of the person who knows they are guilty of flaws of which they have no actual knowledge, they are hidden from all except God. So, the idea of being trapped by our own sins, or in this case by cultural forces which shape our beliefs is a Biblical idea. This is why we need the Holy Spirit to open our hearts because only he knows the truth and only he can show it to us. Our students need to be made aware of this cultural conditioning and challenged to examine their beliefs to see if they are true or not. This also applies to our conceptions of what is ‘Christian’. Sometimes what we are really doing is simply following somewhat blindly our own culture and think it is Biblical, when it merely is what our parents did and what those before them did.
- Morality and Law - Morality is our view of what is right and wrong, while Law is an attempt to embody these deeper moral principles. While it is clearly true all people and all nations have a deep sense of right and wrong, it is part of being created in the image of God, yet it is also clearly true that there is only some agreement combined with a lot of disagreement, even outright contradiction. This persists in the world even to today. These differences comes from fundamentally different beliefs at the level of what is called Worldviews. In our society today the Christian position on many social issues is increasingly being mocked because it has become incomprehensible to those who share different fundamental beliefs about reality. Our students are caught in the crossfire between these belief systems and are often confused about what is right or wrong. The connection between morality/law and these beliefs needs to be examined.
Hebrews 3:7-19 (esp. v19) - unbelief led to disobedience
Ideas/Strategies for Lessons
Year 12: Ask students to write out an anonymous question about God/religion, that they may have always wanted to ask.
Year 12: Philosophy introduction: What is real and how does this confront Christian? Eg. Descarte’s “I think therefore I am” what does mean for the Christian – disabilities etc.
Year 12: Morality Lesson: