Tomorrow I start an adult Sunday School class on the Epistle of James. This will be the first time I’ve systematically taught through the book, though I’ve stared at this work for quite some time. Of course this is the rub. I’ll be teaching a book that I have studied academically to people who need to hear its practical message. I guess it is fitting that I feel this dissonance, after all, James did warn of the high calling/responsibility of teaching:
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. Μὴ πολλοὶ διδάσκαλοι γίνεσθε, ἀδελφοί μου, εἰδότες ὅτι μεῖζον κρίμα λημψόμεθα.
James demands practical application. Of course it’s reception in theological circles has suffered because it appears to be “light” on theology and “heavy” on application. I once surveyed some of the primary systematic theologies (in English) and found only a handful of references to James in the indices. Perhaps this speaks of a larger problem, where ethics can be divorced from theology. James would answer of course, οὐ χρή, ἀδελφοί μου, ταῦτα οὕτως γίνεσθαι (See trans.).
So, tomorrow I begin. May the class be flavored with the practical wisdom of the epistle! Of course, my first class is only on one verse (1:1)! I could be leading the class to a dangerous ledge, with the real threat of pushing them into the academic abyss. I think I’ve found a way around the danger, but I’ll post more on that after Sunday morning.
PS: I hope to post my teaching outlines and ideas on this blog as the class progresses. I welcome feedback.