Russell and Duenes

“None Are So Unholy as Those Whose Hands Are Cauterised with Holy Things”

with 2 comments

I wrote the following little note to encourage my fellow Bible teachers…

Here is a thought by C.S. Lewis in a letter to a young man who, as an unbeliever, was considering theological studies at Oxford and a career as an Anglican priest. Worth reflecting on, brothers:

“I think there is a great deal to be said for having one’s deepest spiritual interest distinct from one’s ordinary duty as a student or professional [person]. St Paul’s job was tent-making. When the two coincide I should have thought there was a danger lest the natural interest in one’s job and the pleasures of gratified ambition might be mistaken for spiritual progress and spiritual consolation; and I think clergymen sometimes fall into this trap. Contrariwise, there is the danger that what is boring and repellent in the job may alienate one from the spiritual life…. Someone has said ‘None are so unholy as those whose hands are cauterised with holy things’; sacred things may become profane by becoming matters of the job. You now want spiritual truth for her own sake; how will it be when the same truth is also needed for an effective footnote in your thesis?…I have always been glad myself that Theology is not the thing I earn my living by.”

Of course I’m not suggesting that we only have our Bible teacher jobs out of natural ambition, nor am I suggesting that we quit them. But Lewis’ words are penetrating nonetheless, in that they cause us to reflect on having jobs where we are required to dispense spiritual truth on any given day, regardless of whether we actually feel the weight and glory of that which we dispense. It is our curriculum. We have a job where we must have a vital faith and spiritual witness in order to keep our jobs. For myself, I have always felt the weight of this. I don’t believe any job is more spiritual than another, and for us, all of them must be done in allegiance to Christ and His gospel. Yet the danger in our case of having our “hands cauterised with holy things” is acute. May God protect us from it, brothers, as we remain vigilant to always keep our hearts happy in God.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

December 7, 2010 at 5:09 pm

2 Responses

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  1. D-

    In some ways, I feel the same caution applies to students attending Christian schools.

    It is the student’s job to read the Bible and answer the questions in Bible class, just like it’s your job to teach it. I’ve seen how the pressure to answer a question for a grade causes students to lie, and that deadens the real Spiritual meaning of it.

    For some kids, I think it is worse for them spiritually to be in a Christian school, where Christianity is mixed with their job requirement as students.

    I know for me personally, my Christianity deepened when I transitioned from a Christian high school to a secular college. It would have been worse for me spiritually, I think, to have gone to a Christian college.

    -Bates

    Bates

    December 8, 2010 at 8:31 am

    • Indeed! I’ve seen that same pressure on students. In fact, I know it well as I read a bunch of platitudes from kids that I absolutely know are not walking in vital relationship with Christ. The problem is a certain kind of Christian school and the parents who attracted to that brand of Christian school. But perhaps I’ll say more on that. I think you certainly were better off going to a non-Christian college, but it need not have been so, had your Christian school upbringing been different (and had there been Christian universities of the caliber that we should like to see).

      -D

      russellandduenes

      December 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm


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