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The Gospel In My History Class

It is the strangest experience in the world to sit in a secular history class and listen to your teacher preach the gospel.

“Today we’re going to be talking about the Protestant Reformation.” My teacher cleared her throat and took a sip of water before proceeding to explain my faith to the entire class.

“One of the main tenants of this teaching,” my teacher said, “was that people could only be saved by faith, and basically what he meant by that was that it doesn’t matter what you do when you’re on earth, it doesn’t matter how many good works you do, it doesn’t really matter.” She coughed (allergies), took a sip of water, continued: “He taught that you were only saved by faith alone, or as they would put it, by the grace of God.”

One thing I really admire about this teacher is how plainly she presents history. She doesn’t taint it with her own biases or let you know how she feels about a subject. This topic was no exception. She presented it like simple facts, not shining it in a negative light or making fun of these as archaic beliefs.

And that was what weirded me out. To sit in the front row of a classroom filled with (most likely) unsaved kids, and hear my (most likely) unsaved teacher outline the way to salvation… Is that not just weird?

(By the way, if you’re wondering how all this relates to American History, she was giving background on the Puritans who came to the colonies.)

Then, yesterday. We were learning about the Great Awakening, and as she was talking about Jonathon Edwards, she began to read an excerpt from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” (Yes– from one of the most powerful sermons ever written, a sermon that made people faint and convulse and weep when he first gave it all those years ago, that’s the sermon my teacher read from in class yesterday…)

“‘The God that holds you over the Pit of Hell,'” she read over the edge of her glasses, “‘much as one holds a Spider, or some loathsome Insect, over the Fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his Wrath towards you burns like Fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the Fire.'”

She looked up at the class. “So Jonathon Edwards is teaching that they are at the mercy of a God who’s not all that merciful.”

Now to this, to this, I had a visceral response. (Anyone who knows me well can probably picture my facial expression at that moment.) This was also what brought me back to reality… this is much closer to what I expected from my secular history class.

You know what, I expected to encounter some interesting experiences at my secular college, but not exactly something like this. I was pleasantly surprised, yet at the same time… doesn’t it show how sadly unaware many people are of the great mercy of our good, good God?


I’m not going to tie this post up with a neat little bow. (Though I’ve been thinking about how to end it for the past hour…) I think I’m going to start to just be more open, more this-is-what-happened-today-and-here’s-what-I-think-about-it with my blog posts now.

2 thoughts on “The Gospel In My History Class”

  1. I thank our merciful God that He has permitted the continuance of at least a few secular college history teachers who will just teach the historical record rather than manifesting the fashion of the day which is to re-write history according to their destructive presuppositions. And I’m glad you’re enjoying one such teacher. Her misrepresentation of the Lord’s character gives you an opening, does it not? An opening to be accessed via a required paper or via answers on required exams, at which time you can gently, humbly proclaim the great mercy of God.

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  2. I really like this… really thoughtful and genuine. Looking forward to reading more what-happened-today kind of blog posts 😉

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