From the famous lines of “Hamlet” to the renowned scenes of Moby Dick, literature fills the classrooms of Christian schools across the globe. Poems, letters, short stories, and novels offer an infinite world of knowledge that grows students mentally and challenges them academically. Yet many Christian teachers struggle to define the role of literature in growing students spiritually. What can Christians learn from the timeless words of the classics? What about authors who openly present views or ideas that contradict the Bible? How can a teacher present such material in a way that instructs students not just in their academic knowledge but also in their Christian lives?
Nathan Huffstutler has been teaching literature at Maranatha since 2005. In his years of experience, he has found that, in order to formulate a philosophy of teaching literature, it is necessary first to define the nature and purpose of literature itself. He asks some probing questions, such as “What is the purpose of literature? Why does it exist in this world that God has created? What is our purpose as human beings in terms of using language, in terms of understanding what it means to be a human being created in the image of God?” Biblical answers to these questions will provide the foundation for a Christian worldview of teaching literature.