Must our teachers and heroes be Christians?

A little informal poll:  I’m interested in what my friends think about the idea that the teachers and heroes of a Christian ought to be Christians.  Don’t be shy.  You can go to the comments and read my thoughts, but I’m really interested in yours.

19 thoughts on “Must our teachers and heroes be Christians?”

  1. I think not. Everyone has something to teach me, whether they’re a believer or not. And if I allow the Scriptures and Holy Spirit to interpret and filter whatever enters my heart, then I believe the world is a huge classroom filled with amazing people and ideas.

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  2. Basically, I think you said it right Don.

    I don’t think Christians should say that every teacher or hero of theirs must be a christian. I would say that we should look to Christ as our hero and teacher and goal to become, and we should examine and learn from the lives of those around us so we can know and understand ourselves more.

    As for a classroom setting, again. I think it is fine for christian people to take classes that are not christian-based classes and are not taught by christians. We are instructed to live out our lives under the conviction of the holy spirit, and that conviction will extend to our education to guard us from worldly teaching and help us hold onto truth.

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  3. I believe God can teach us various of things through believers, non-believers, nature, physics etc. It’s a matter of how well we’re paying attention to what he has to say. I don’t like the idea of putting ppl in the position of a hero. I would say Jesus is the one true hero. We can all have admirable traits and I know a lot of ppl, regardless of faith, who have inspired me to reach further, go deeper and live closer to God.

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  4. I agree with what Frida said above. We can see in some of the attributes of man what is good and aspire to that. But in all things we submit to the Word of God, and as we see in the great men and women of the Old Testament, what is great and glorious about them ultimately points to it’s fulfillment in Jesus. There is something that Paul says which should give us pause in what we do in looking up to our “heroes”:

    Php 3:17+ Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

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  5. I can’t remember the theologian that said it, but it is true. “All truth comes from God, whether it is spoken by the most devout atheist or Christian, therefore when it is spoken it can be claimed by the follower of Jesus as his own.” It never mattered to me whether the person was Christian or not, I look for truth in their teaching. I have always loved Gandhi and I have to say, his actions were often more Christian than most Christians I know.

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  6. WOW! I am so blessed and encouraged by all the responses to Don’s thoughts. . .for so many years I had been in circles where Christians only lived and worked and fellowshipped and learned with other Christians like somehow we would not be ‘safe’ if we ventured outside of that. I call it the “Ant hill” mentality of being Christian. When I come to a question, I always think of Jesus. . .we may see Him as a hero, but He did not come as one or to be one. He came to give us life, and peace, and grace, and wisdom. I could go on. Jesus was friend to everyone in a unique sort of way. . .He always went to the Father when he was weak or needed wisdom. I like to try to live that way, and really do not have ‘heroes’ at all. We ARE cautioned to be careful WHO we allow to be our teachers, because there are false doctrines, but to only learn from one school of people to me is SO confining and limited, excluding us and others from many wonderful gifts and ideas and moments, which are God given. Follow Jesus always, and take Zacchaeus home with you and love up on him:)

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  7. But seriously…. No. The process is two part, observed and observer, teacher and taught, communicator and receiver. No learning or following goes on apart from the choice of the receiver. So I learn from the lesson I choose to embrace. Now that is the most fundamental level of the question.

    Now the other layer. How do I choose to relate to a particular person (again, choice)? Do I choose to call them, publicly or internally, teacher? Or, STRONGER, do I choose to put them on a pedestal as a hero or icon, an exemplar of some ideal? It is still a choice. And I can certainly site someone as an example of some thing as long as they are an example and know that they are not Christian, as long as I am not choosing to set them up as an example of a Christian.

    Now, how close does identifying heroes com to worship? I can neither worship a Christian or a non-Christian. Well, I can, but I will not.

    If I yield, open, take in, embrace a lesson from a non-Christian, I am not contaminated by his sin. Christ in me is the hope that everything I touch will be transformed by Christ, to take its place and purpose in bringing God Glory. The darkness in the poeple around me can not cover, hide or extinguish the light.

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  8. We shouldn’t close our minds in our own cage. What does it really mean ” hero ” or ” teacher ”

    All people on this world are sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. God created us all on His image. If someone is good and wise person that doesn’t have anything with religion. I saw many arrogant and selfish Christians and in the same time many good and wise people who are not Christians.

    Can we imagine our world without Aristotle, Plato or Socrates ( don’t forget how influential they were on early church fathers ).

    What about Mahatma Gandhi ? What about many poets, writers, painters… who are not Christians ?

    Trust me. We can learn a lot from Muslims and Jews and all other people in the world.
    Why fear ? If our faith is so strong we shouldn’t be afraid of anything or anyone.

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  9. As followers of Jesus, I think we can learn from just about anything He has made. Virtues are embodied daily in the lives of people who live sacrificially for others – regardless of their faith. Beauty can be found in music, art, architecture, etc… outside of the Christian faith. I think we can praise God and be grateful for the lives of anyone who inspires us to love others. I think beauty – wherever it is found in the world – can point us to the beauty of God in Christ.

    We simply need to discover how to receive and perceive the glory of God manifested in men created in His image without idolizing the men through whom His glory is revealed.

    As it is written:
    “So then let no one boast in men
    For all things belong to you,
    whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you,
    and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. ” 1 Cor 3

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  10. 1Co 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
    1Co 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”
    1Co 3:20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
    1Co 3:21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours,

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  11. Hey Don. Kako si?
    Nice question. I think your audience pretty much thinks in line with you. (Which is a relief)…

    As far as the majority of the church… I hate to say but I think their answer is unfortunately “no”.

    To that I would ask…What about school teachers? Do they have to be Christians to teach you to read and do math?

    Unfortunately I have to say, I’ve learned more about Jesus lately from non-Christians.

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  12. May I ask a question (if those that have answered are still listening), how many of us- when asked these types of questions which are directed at how we choose to direct our lives, what paths to follow, or what leaders to look to…. how many of us first turn to God’s word to direct our paths, and to the word of Christ to frame the window we choose to view out? Where in scripture are we instructed to look to anyone to lead and direct our lives apart from Jesus and his Word? And how many scriptures warn us, explicitly to turn from the ways of the world, and that the wise (so called) of this world are futile?

    Are your opinions framed and directed by the Word, or not, and should that concern you?

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    1. Hey Tucker! Thanks as always for your comments. I appreciate that you’re not afraid to challenge me. Just a few thoughts in regard to your last comment:

      I do try to make God’s Word the ultimate authority in my life. And from what I know of my friends who leave their comments here, they do as well. As I think about it, you’re the only person who participates here that I don’t actually know in real life. So I can say pretty authoritatively that these people are the real deal when it comes to giving Jesus his proper place.

      “Are your opinions framed and directed by the Word, or not, and should that concern you?”

      I trust they are. If and when they’re not, then yes, I have a problem. It’s true I’m not in the habit of filling my blog entries with scriptures. But that doesn’t mean my opinions aren’t framed in the Word. I’ve been trying most of my life to let the scriptures do their work in me, and then to live (and write) out of that experience. When I feel like a scripture reference is needed I supply it, but if people want to read scriptures they can go to E-Sword or open their own Bibles. So far God has not asked me to cut-and-paste large sections of His Word into this Blog. (If He does, I will). You’re a meister at that, but it’s not my call.

      In your first sentence you express concern about “these types of questions which are directed at how we choose to live our lives, what paths to follow…” That’s not what we’re talking about, Tucker. This discussion is not about following PEOPLE in various “paths”, but about how we learn, who we can learn from, and if it’s OK to be inspired by great lives around us.

      I’m not squeamish about having heroes. Hebrews 11 is full of them, and I can’t see how it detracts a hair from the unparalleled life of Christ to recognize that David, Moses or Abraham were heroes. Their lives reflected some aspect of the invisible greatness of God, and it inspires me that maybe I can do the same. Don’t worry, Tucker. These people are not worshiping men nor giving their lives over to the control of others.

      “Where in scripture are we instructed to look to anyone to lead and direct our lives apart from Jesus and his Word?”

      Even though this is NOT the essence of our conversation, I want you to see that the idea of human leadership is not foreign to the Word.

      “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us…” -Paul (2 Thess. 3:7)

      “Remember them which have the rule over you… whose faith follow…” (Heb. 13:7)

      “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” -Paul (I Cor. 11:1)

      Tucker, I fully agree with you that there are billions of people out there who follow blind guides, false teachers, counterfeit saviors and foreign gods. But I don’t think you need to worry about that with our friends here, including Chris and his Luke Skywalker comment. He’s just having fun.

      Blessings!
      Don

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  13. Of course, the hero’s in Hebrews 11 are there to reveal their faith in God, and by their faith are we to follow- faith to faith. The other scriptures you gave give direction in who to follow:

    those who follow the traditions of faith leading to steadfastness and love of Christ (2 thess.)
    leaders who spoke the word of God, considering the outcome of their lives (consequence of their ideas?) Hebrews 13
    Following Paul who’s desire was that all would be saved, and that he would imitate Christ, following the traditions he gave to the church (his writings?) 1 cor. 11

    So we see that in these examples we are to follow all point to, in some way, the word of God which is a lamp that lights our path, and ultimately to walk by faith in Christ- being conformed to his image. I don’t think paul, in any of those sections, encouraged the saints to follow anyone who did not exhibit faith and follow God’s word, do you?

    (I stumbled across your blog a long time ago and enjoy reading your experiences as you take the gospel across the world, your short posts just seem to challenge me- to examine my own walk and worldview. I don’t mean to be a bother, and if you feel that I have challenged you please tell me how, I do try to keep my posts close to biblical authority)

    2Ti 4:1+ I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

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  14. You’re not a bother, Tucker. You’re my brother and you make me think. That’s a very good thing.

    In answer to your question, I fully agree with you that Paul would not have encouraged believers to follow someone who was not following Christ. But I really do think there’s a difference between following someone and learning from him, or being inspired by him. By nature it’s impossible to follow more than one person (unless there might be several going in the same direction, as in the case of the church leaders Paul mentioned). But we can be inspired and taught by any number of people.

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  15. Was Jesus a Christian? Labeling things can be a dangerous affair. I like Jesus as he turned a whole world upside down (and I am talking about world as system). He gave a smooth example to follow (a hero to follow if you are pleased). Probably the most unlikely being (not Gollum hehehe) but a Samaritan. The Good Samaritan, someone that was outside religious labels and the confined mindset of the moment. Yeah, he promoted a kind of non-Christian hero to lead us into selfless care and tenderness. The nature speaks (and teaches us) of the glory of God (Psalm 19, Romans 1 and so forth). But also, nature speaks (and teaches us) of violence, and destruction, and survival of the fittest, and extinction of species… should we think then that nature itself is evil when it speaks of things that we label as non-Christians? I believe that God chose to place his truth, his beauty, his goodness, well… his perfections everywhere as he is so wonderfully sovereign and (sic!) he transcends even our labeling-system.

    (It’s amazing how many things I learned from Tyler Durden, if you read the novel/watched the film “Fight Club” you know what I mean, though he is not my hero).

    Yes, I think truth and nobility, selflessness and sacrifice (hero’s attributes) could be/ought to be found in non-Christians.

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