In chps. 8 and 9 of J. Frye’s book we encounter one central theme — that of teaching. What is it? I suggest that if we believed what J. Frye says about what teaching is most of us would adjust what we do — as parents, as teachers, as ministers, as simple conversationalists.
What is teaching? It is a skill, not a subject. (I have told colleagues for years that I don’t teach subjects; I teach students.) Here’s his definition: “Preaching and teaching help people discover the places of the heart where they meet God” (117). And, “Teaching and preaching help people read the maps of their inner lives” (118). John does not think information is not involved; he knows information exchange is not enough. Do we?
What differences would it make if we thought our “informing” of others was to be designed to transform life rather than just inform the mind? The goal, he says, is to see Christ formed in others.
Now along with this develops a theme in chp 8 that unfolds in chp. 9: The Spirit. Genuine teaching, in fact a good conversation, is one that is shaped by humans who are open to the Spirit at work in leading, prompting, and guiding. But, as chp 9 unfolds, the Spirit sometimes raises systemic and spiritual pressures, oppressions, and battles. Not all of these are major, major demonic things — rather, there is an awareness in teaching for the sake of spiritual transformation that there is a genuine spiritual world in which we live.
I’m one of those who think CS Lewis got this right: there are some who overdo it and there are some who avoid it all cost. What is the “it”? Spiritual realities behind and inside all that goes on. Some think demons are in their auto tires and some think spiritualities are hocus-pocus. We need to steer between both.
But there is another dual extreme we need to avoid: for some the spiritualities are entirely personal and attack humans about holiness and the like; for others it is entirely systemic evil, and it is little more than bad laws written by bad people who don’t think of all but only of themselves. Again, the spiritualities are both systemic and personal.