(Thanks to Michael Essenburg, Christian Academy in Japan, for sharing this post.)
It’s the end of your English class, and you assign a 750-word essay in which your students are to evaluate a theme from Hamlet from a Biblical perspective.
Then the bell rings. One of your students, Ian, approaches you and says, “I don’t know what it looks like. I know what telling others about Jesus looks like—we read missionary biographies at school and I go on mission trips with my church. What does doing a good job on using a Biblical perspective look like in an essay?”
Question: How can you help Ian? (How can you help Ian understand what using a Biblical perspective in an essay looks like?)
Answer: Kim Essenburg, English 10 teacher at Christian Academy in Japan, responds:
I want my students to connect the Bible and what they study in English 10. As a starting point, I have to get my students to see that this is possible. I have to get my students to see that the Bible can be applied, for example, to the literature and grammar that they study.
Two strategies I use are:
1. Having my students read and discuss an article that evaluates the subject from a Biblical perspective. When my students read Elie Wiesel’s Night, a Holocaust memoir, I have them also read “Justice in an Unjust World” by Gary Haugen.
2. Showing my students sample essays in which students apply a Biblical perspective, for example:
There are many ways to define the word “peace”, but the Biblical concept of peace or shalom has a round meaning, relating all beings in the universe and outside the cosmos. Genesis 1 describes the perfect creation God had made in the beginning as He said, “It was very good” (New International Version). However, as man marred his image of God through sin, the relationship between God and man, God and creation, man and creation was broken. Fear and sorrow entered the universe, and every human being needed to go through such pain in the world. Henceforth, humans needed to pray for redemption and the restoration of the intimate association with God, so that this may someday lead to the restoration of creation. Romans 8:21 expresses the hope for this restoration when “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” This is a place where all living creatures and humans live in harmony without pain and suffering, which is referred to as the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21. This concept of Biblical shalom in elucidated by Alan Paton’s book Cry, The Beloved Country as the “ideal justice.” Beginning with Stephen Kumalo, one finds the broken relationship between God and man and creation in the tribe, and through much adversity and sorrow, Kumalo attempts to build shalom by restoring the broken relationships.
Show your students what using a Biblical perspective looks like. Today.