Interesting things come up during elementary Sunday school when I teach. One girl asked if the Abraham I kept talking about was Abraham Lincoln.

The last lesson was about how the Gentiles were grafted into the tree and how that process involved working out differences in culture and expectations. Fairly heavy stuff. The current curriculum has been challenging; theologically heavy and not a ton of application, which is hard to teach to elementary school kids. Like, the last lesson I taught was about how Jesus is Abraham’s seed. Eyoiks.

In any case, at one point I was saying how we don’t have to do all the things the Jews did in order to know God, we just have to believe in Jesus. One girl (the same girl who asked if Abraham == Abraham Lincoln) asked a legitimate and difficult question: how do we know that everything we know about Jesus is true? It happened a long time ago.

Instead of answering that directly, I decided to the question around on her, and show her how we accept many things about people in the past without having direct evidence. To come back to an earlier point, I asked her, how do we know about Abraham Lincoln? He died a long time ago. She responded, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “Umm hello, he’s on the penny.” Q.E.D.

Later in the same conversation, I decided to challenge them even more, telling them how many of the things we think we know about dinosaurs (a subject some of them love) we can’t know to be true. Like, the fossils we find are rarely complete, intact skeletons, so scientists have to guess how they fit together, and they’ve frequently gotten it wrong. With many dinosaurs, we have no idea if they’re really shaped the way we think they are.

This didn’t go over well. One boy, visibly perturbed, left his seat, ran up to me and yelled, “YOU’RE RUINING OUR IMAGINATION!”

Yeah, I won’t be repeating that style of teaching again.

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