True education, on the part of the educator, involves a demonstration of empathy. Listening to Linwood Jackson Jr., whose books inspire his reader to take a greater concern for how they handle their religious character, it is not hard to find this message of empathy in what he teaches. Known for his philosophical take on the Bible, and for understanding the crucifixion as a self-healing discipline for one’s personal spirituality, empathy as an element to learning and to educating may appear to be the last thing on his mind, but it is actually at the forefront.
We caught up with Minister Jackson and asked him about what his message is, and about his next book. He is planning to publish a new work possibly called, “A Working Faith”. In this book, Linwood discusses how one’s faith is to serve their human being. He details how the cultivation of faith is supposed to lead to one learning how to exercise empathy with self, and from that experience, learning how to carefully address internal issues arising from that exercising of empathy.
Being able, he believes, to deal with our self, and in a kind and edifying way, will lead to us caring to do the same for others. A working faith is a faith that can serve other people, and in ways uniquely fashioned. Because we have gone through the painful process of laboring with our self, we are now prepared to labor for others. This entire experience is necessary for us to understand the philosophy behind our ministry, giving to our service a softness that elevates.
There is a reason why his books are so academic. Linwood is writing for ministers entering into the field of service. He believes that ministers should know that a service to humans does not mean a service primarily for humans, but for the devotional conversation of human beings. Ministers entering into the field are entering into an environment where people are looking to them not simply as an outlet for understanding, but also as a conduit for affection.
His experience educating various people and ministers on the underlying philosophy within the Bible has opened him up to the fact that people may want to know what you know, but people ultimately want to know what you know in a way resonating with their own character. Linwood believes that beneath the student’s desire to learn from an “expert” is the desire to possess the character of the “expert,” and if that character can be possessed, then what that character knows will also follow. His interactions have taught him that his students want to develop their own level of affection for the material after understanding his level of affection for what he teaches. It is this factor of affection that guides what is taught and learned in his classroom.
Linwood’s mind is weighty, detailed, and highly organized. Listening to him, whether live or through his program “Justification,” his words point into the direction of acquiring affinity with self. Using the Bible to explain the restoration the religious character needs, although followed by much philosophy and analysis, Linwood wants his observer to let their faith discover its nature. This discovery is what allows the person to possess a working faith, a faith that works as efficiently and as automatically as the visceral organs of the body.
Linwood beautifully ties in this complex stream of thought with the idea that it is all for serving our fellow human beings. He is teaching all people, and especially ministers, that before they can do anything in this life, they need to learn how to properly care for their self. This “care” begins as one re-educates their religious or spiritual character, and if applying to the Bible’s principles of that re-education, the character will be refined, and so much so that its unique spirit will do for others, in its own genuine way, what has been done for it.
Minister Jackson is an interesting person. The way he thinks is different. While possessing a profound intellect in the subject of Bible philosophy, his mind is geared towards how that philosophy can internally work for the person, and how that development can then lead to that person carefully, intelligently, and positively transforming their environment. His service to our world may not right now be as appreciated as it should be, but rest assured, it soon will be.
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