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Quotes About Teaching

Quotes about teaching and the role of a Christian teacher from throughout church history.

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Anonymous, Letter to Diognetus, A.D. 80 - 130

This is he who, being from everlasting, is today called the Son, through whom the Church is enriched, and grace, widely spread, increases in the saints, furnishing understanding, revealing mysteries, announcing times, rejoicing over the faithful, giving to those that seek, by whom the limits of faith are not broken through, nor the boundaries set by the fathers passed over. Then the fear of the law is chanted, and the grace of the prophets is known, and the faith of the Gospels is established, and the tradition of the apostles is preserved, and the grace of the church exults; which grace if you grieve not, you shall know those things which the Word teaches, by whom he wills, and when he pleases. For whatever things we are moved to utter by the will of the Word commanding us, we communicate to you with pains, and from a love of the things that have been revealed to us. (Letter to Diognetus 11)

Hermas, c. AD 170

Why are you reasoning in yourself, perplexing your mind, and distressing yourself? Do not attempt to comprehend the things which you cannot understand as if you were wise, but ask the Lord, that you may receive understanding and know them. You cannot see what is behind you, but what is in front of you. Whatever, then, you cannot see, let alone, and do not torment yourself about it. But what you see, make yourself the master of it, and do not waste your effort on other things. I [i.e., the Angel of Repentance] will explain to you everything that I show you. (Shepherd of Hermas. Similitude 9th. Ch. 2.)

Origen, AD 203-250

Today, under the pretext of gnosis, the heretics set themselves up against the holy Church of Christ, and multiply the volumes of their commentaries in which they pretend to interpret the evangelical and apostolic writings. If we ourselves keep silence, if we do not oppose them with true and sound doctrines, they will attract famished souls who, in the absence of healthy nourishment, will seize upon these forbidden foods which are indeed impure and abominable... In your own case, it was because you could not find masters capable of teaching you a higher doctrine, and because your love for Jesus could not abide an unreasoned and common faith, hence you formerly gave yourself up to those doctrines which subsequently you condemned and rejected, as was right. (Origen to Ambrose. Cited by Coptic Orthodox Church Network. 1998-2014. "Origen's Writings." Web. Retrieved May 15, 2017 from http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/patrology/schoolofalex2/chapter02.html)

Hippolytus, d. c. AD 235

If there is a teacher there, let none of you be late in arriving at the church where they give instruction. Then it shall be given to him who speaks to utter things which are profitable to all, and you shall hear things which you do not think and you will be profited by the things which the Holy Spirit will give to you by him who instructs, and so your faith will be established by what you hear. Further, he will tell you there what you ought to do in your own house. Therefore, let each one be careful to go to the assembly to the place where the Holy Spirit abounds. (Apostolic Tradition 35:3)

Isaac of Nineveh, d.  700

A word born of righteous activity is one thing, and beautiful words, another. Even without experience, wisdom is clever at imparting beauty to her words, at speaking the truth without really knowing it, and at making declarations on virtue while the man himself never makes trial of it in his deeds. Speech that comes from righteous activity is a treasury of hope; but wisdom not based on righteous activity is a deposit of disgrace. Just as when an artist frescoes water on the walls and cannot relieve his thirst with it, or just as a man dreams beautiful dreams, even so is speech not based on righteous activity. But a man who talks of virtue from the experience of his own labor transmits virtue to his hearer as he that distributes money earned from his own commerce, and as it were from out of his own possessions he sows his teaching in the ears of those who give him ear. Such a man opens his mouth with boldness before his spiritiual children... (Isaac of Nineveh, First Homily; thank you to Casey Perkins)


John Calvin, 1562

I devote all my care, labor, and study not only to the service of this Church, to which I am peculiarly bound, but to the assistance of all the Churches by every means in my power. I so discharge my office of a teacher, that no ambition may appear in my extreme faithfulness and diligence. I devour numerous griefs, and endure the rudeness of many; but my liberty is uncontrolled by the power of any man. I do not indulge the great by flattery; I fear not to give offence. (Response to Badouin, from Schaff, A History of the Christian Church, vol. VIII, sec. 97)

Benjamin Franklin, d. 1705

Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember; Involve me, and I learn. (unknown)

George Whitefield, d. 1770

It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher. (unknown)

A.W. Tozer, d. 1963

Let me never become a slave to crowds. (unknown, cited by Revival List)

Vance Havner, d. 1986

The devil doesn´t mind how many sermons we preach or prepare if it will keep us from preparing ourselves. (unknown)

Thom & Joani Schultz, 1996

"The workbooks, worksheets, and textbooks that are an integral part of the drill-test syndrome cause anxieties or boredom, which in turn causes human brains to shut down or to learn that schooling is irrelevant to life" [citing Lynn Stoddard, Redesigning Education].

   It's different in Japanese schools, where students learn more. The classrooms are lively, loud, and active. They do not fit the stereotype most Americans hold of Asian schools. Japanese lessons are not rote. Teachers spend little time lecturing. Students are not passive receptacles but active participants in the learning process.

   Japanese classes are hands on. Students learn by doing. Newsweek magazine describes a typical Tokyo elementary classroom: "The room is bedlam. Kids squirm, punch, scribble as they work in pairs, guessing the weight of pencils, mirrors, compasses, and then moving teeny weights on and off a balance. No one cracks a textbook. No child is a mere observer. No child takes notes. The lesson goes from fingertips to brain." (Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Church; [Group: Loveland, CO] 1996; p. 134)

Paul Washer, present

Several years ago...An Uncle of mine, who was very sound, slipped in some good books into a suitcase one day...and I remember coming across a book by Ernie Reisinger called "Today's Evangelism" and I began to read it... I got half way through that book and this is no exaggeration... and I'm not speaking evangelistically... This is true. I fell out of that chair with such the fear of God upon my life, and I pressed my face into those old boards of that room in the city of Lima (third floor of an old building we were using for a church) ... I pressed my face as far into those boards as they could get in fear as I could get ... and cried out to God, "God, If you promise not to kill me for the way I've preached your gospel, I promise from here on out I'll never preach it that way again. (cited by Revival List)

A. Reavis (unknown)

Despite the atrociousness of it, Satan really does have "little cause to fear most preaching." Most preaching in the modern church is completely devoid of unction. Pastors are too busy playing golf or racquetball to bother spending time on their knees. (cited by Revival List)

Paul Pavao, 2013

We aren't ostriches. Their defense mechanism is sticking their head in the ground so they can't see what's coming at them. Our defense mechanism is truth; that's why God gave us such big brains. That's why he reasons with us.

Paul Pavao, 2019

Winning an argument is not winning a person. Some people will not receive counsel no matter how much you counsel them. Some people receive counsel after many attempts, others after a few. Some people think well enough to hear and receive short arguments, but those are rare. The vast majority of people hold their beliefs based an many factors, and the emotional and societal aspects of their beliefs are very, very difficult to overthrow. A book can present many arguments. It can appeal to mind and emotion, and it can provide hours, weeks, or even months of time for the arguments to affect the reader.

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