“For the purposes of this class, I ask that you set your beliefs aside…”
I think this statement sums up well the statement made by the professor in the movie, “God’s Not Dead.” Due to the fact that one of the movie’s main themes is wrapped up in the struggle one student has with this idea, I would venture to say that there is a perception that this is not a common occurrence in classrooms.
But it is common. And, from my standpoint, it is often necessary.
We enter classrooms to learn and grow — not to stay stagnant. But to learn and grow, we have to think beyond ourselves and our limited thinking. We have to challenge our tendency to settle for how things are and work toward whatever is beyond. And sometimes, new knowledge or a scholar’s work disagrees with what we personally believe.
And that is OK.
A big part of education (and a major part of growing) is being able to see through different lenses and understand different perspectives. And learning other perspectives often leads to a better understanding of our own beliefs. And it gives us credibility as we interact with others.
As a person who mainly identifies as Lutheran, I value education and recognize it as one of Martin Luther’s core objectives. Luther encouraged people to ask “Why?” and “What next?” Luther believed in the mystery of God but that humanity can bring light and understanding to some of that mystery. And, simply put, there is plenty of mystery left!
Faith can inform knowledge and knowledge can inform faith. Again, learning other perspectives often leads to a better understanding of our own beliefs. So sure, set your beliefs aside, but use the new perspective to grow in your own faith and understanding.
Join SpokaneFAVS for a Coffee Talk forum on “Faith and Education” at 10 a.m. July 4 at Indaba Coffee/The Book Parlor, 1425 W. Broadway. Franklin is a panelist.
Kyle A. Franklin is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University, where he earned his Master's in Religious Studies. He completed his bachelor's degree in history and religion at Pacific Lutheran University in 2007 and has worked in both the ELCA Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church.