The whole idea behind constructivism, is that people only ever really learn something new, if they can connect it in some way (or construct it) with something they already understand. The implication for teaching, is that you need to start with what your students already know. If you're not helping them to build on their own existing understanding, you are not teaching them anything at all. Makes sense to me!
You can't teach the principles of multiplication, for example, to kids who can't count yet. Or even to kids who can count, but don't yet fully understand addition. Little ones just starting school have begun a journey that will take them to multiplication and beyond, but they are still a long way off. They don't yet have the background concepts they will need.
So if this is the way all of us learn (and I think it is) what are the implications for understanding God as teacher? If He is really about communicating with us, changing our hearts, and growing us from the inside... wouldn't you expect Him to begin the conversation, in whatever form it takes, with what we already understand about the world?
I remember my bro, Josh (hopefully you'll meet him during the 'Rest' series) back when he was doing Bible College, talking about how God reveals himself to people through the lens of their own time and culture. Kinda obvious, when you think about it. How ELSE is He going to do it? I mean, if an alien in a spaceship landed in your front yard and began speaking alien bleeps... no matter how cordial the message, you'd probably just shake, run, or make a mess in your pants! He/she/it wouldn't be speaking anything remotely like your language, so the message would be lost.
For me, this doesn't exactly make me feel comfortable about those bits in the Old Testament where God seems to be sanctioning genocide, infanticide, and other horrible atrocities, but perhaps it can provide some context that makes a little more sense. (I feel weird even writing that sentence - because on so many levels those things simply do NOT make sense to me). But bear with me, just for a moment. If I look at the development of culture, first the Old Testament Jews, then the early Christians, I can see slow movement from warlike tribalism, to a community that placed limits on retaliation and punishment, to a community that left those laws behind, to follow the law of love.
And on a more immediate level; it also helps me make sense of the fact that God seems to "speak" to people in different ways. He even seems to speak to people to whom, frankly, I wouldn't willingly give the time of day. On the weekend I listened to some preaching that really grated. At one point, the speaker related an experience where "God told Him" something that quite honestly, I couldn't agree with. So does that mean God didn't tell him? Does that mean I need to adjust my theology? Maybe neither. I mean, the preacher (or I) could have gotten it wrong, as I'm sure we often do. But not necessarily. When God is speaking to someone, He is speaking into their own understanding, their own context. And on those rare and precious occasions when He's actually getting through to me - well, same!
Well, come on - what do you think? Push back a little!! (nobody's been discussing things much here, lately - but I love discussions, so I'm gonna keep trying! ;)
What are the implications, for the way we relate to others around us?
I can see some possibly scary implications - as well as some very freeing ones...
How do you know when you're really "hearing" from God?? What about the times we get it wrong??
Personally, I think we probably get it wrong a lot! Is this a bad thing??
Does this raise other questions for you??
Okay - YOUR turn! What are your thoughts?
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