Paul Walker — A Reminder to Those Who Teach in Christian Schools

Paul WalkerLast night, my Facebook feed lit up during the football games — not with crowing by Auburn fans, but in shock from Paul Walker fans.  He was a Hollywood actor tragically killed in a fiery car crash yeasterday afternoon in Santa Clarita, CA.

Frankly, having never seen a single “Fast and Furious” movie, I had never heard of him, but a lot of people really enjoyed his acting apparently.  I wanted to learn a bit more about him, so I did some searching and came across this article.  Walker professed to be a Christian and even shared his testimony.  Apparently, a major factor in his spiritual life was the education that he received at an evangelical Christian school.  As one who has spent over 30 years in Christian education at every level from classroom teaching to administration to graduate school professor, this was an important reminder to me.

Some of the students in our classrooms will grow up to be quite influential people.  Few people know that rocker Marilyn Manson attended a Christian school in Canton, Ohio for a time.  I knew one of his teachers.  Of course, he didn’t go by “Marilyn” at the time.  Shannon Breem from FOXNews fame graduated from North Florida Christian School in Tallahassee which was a prominent school in the association I served as President (FACCS) and she also attended Liberty University where I teach.  For better or worse, many students will pass through the classrooms of Christian schools around the world.  I’m so proud of many of the students who have been in one of my classes or schools in the past as they have become leaders of influence as adults.  I doubt that many thought Paul Walker would grow up to be a celebrity when he was a typical, punky teen in a Christian school — but he left his mark with his career and now with his death.

To all who teach young people in schools, public, private or Christian, I’m reminded of the great privilege it is to do so.  I used to have a speech that I gave to teacher’s conventions years ago entitled, “The Hand that Holds the Chalk, Shapes the Future”.  We may use dry-erase markers in today’s classrooms, but the principle is still the same.

Paul Walker looked back on his education at a Christian school as the base of his spiritual training that moved him away from Mormonism into a real relationship with Christ.  I hope his fans are consoled by that fact and my many friends in Christian education are challenged by it.

 

46 Comments »

  1. GKJ said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 4:46 am

    Did he actually profess to being born again and getting saved?
    He was such a great man from what I’ve heard and read about him…
    How he helps people affected by disasters… It just pains me how he might’ve not accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour.

  2. Mobabyhomeslice said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

    GKJ, I would think that if he used the terminology of “Born-again” to describe his Christian school, and also knows the difference between being a Christian and being a Mormon, he probably did accept Christ as Savior.
    Even still, it’s not our place to determine what he believed in his heart. Only God can be the judge of that, but his interview seems to be a pretty good indicator that he was, in fact, a born-again believer.

  3. Lizzi said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    Cool. I’ve heard he was a really great guy but don’t they say that about all those who have recently, tragically died?

    Thanks for the info.

  4. Magnix said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

    He went to a Mormon Church. Mormon is an cult!

  5. admin said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

    Mormonism is indeed a cult. However, Paul gave testimony to having left the Mormon church and becoming a “born-again” Christian in at least two separate news articles that I located. As pointed out above, we cannot know the condition of his soul — that was between him and God. There was, however, without dispute, the presence of a powerful Christian influence brought into his life as a result of the Christian school which he attended. My article was intended to draw attention to that fact and challenge all of us who are so blessed to work with young people to realize their potential impact for Christ as they teach, model and mentor.

    For many Christians, the news of his death brought shock and the understandable question — what was his relationship with Christ? It was (and is) my desire that in the midst of their sorrow, some might find hope in the reports of his private faith and perhaps be challenged to ask important questions about their own relationship with God and where they would spend eternity should they be suddenly killed.

  6. Kim Fitzsimons said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

    Dear Dan, Thankyou for this article concerning Paul Walker. It is very encouraging which is so unlike most of what we read in the news today. I am a believer in Christ and I am thankful to hear of his Christian testimony and his making an impact to young people of today!!! We loved Paul in the movie: EIGHT BELOW God bless you and keep writing!!!

  7. Cheryl said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

    It would be nice if you would spend some time to educate yourself about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at mormon.org before you make inaccurate comments on their belief of having a personal relationship with Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. The most fundamental belief our religion is “We Believe in God the Eternal Father and his son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all man kind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (http://mormon.org/beliefs/articles-of-faith). As pertaining to Paul Walker, he and his acting skills will continue to be missed. Dan, thank you also for taking time to teach others in your school about Christ. As a fellow Christian, I hope you will take some time to learn from direct sources rather than the media about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Godspeed!

  8. Ms.Reason said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    A definition of a cult is a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. So according to that anything can be considered a cult. I find it offensive to say that he left a religion and “Found Christ.” Why does it matter? If you’re a true Christian then why are you judging others beliefs? Isn’t being a Christian about accepting, forgiving and loving all no matter what they believe? And it’s not us to judge. It’s very sad that he passed away. But to make it about religion is even more sad. Lets honor him as a person. Not what he did or didn’t believe.

  9. Amy said,

    December 2, 2013 @ 11:57 pm

    I have an education agree from Liberty University and since I am not certified to teach in Alabama in the public school system I have been considering teaching at a Christian school here. This was encouraging. Thank you!

  10. Laurie said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 12:13 am

    Dan thanks for this encouraging article. Your right, the bible says we can’t know a mans heart, but his words say much!
    Cheryl, I’m very surprised at your comment. Your comment shows one of two things. Either 1. you have not been made privy to the true teachings of the LDS church, or 2. you have been, but you have been taught to use flowery words. It is COMMON knowledge that the LDS church believes and teaches Jesus was simply a good Mormon man, who WAS NOT God’s son or God! The Mormons also teach that you can attain Godhood yourself, which is also cult-like teaching. Which Satan used in the garden of Eden to deceive Eve. The Mormon church can flower up its lingo to sound doctrinally correct, but all who truly know the teachings of the Mormon church, KNOW what you say is incorrect. By the way a true definition of a cult is any religious organization that denies the deity of Christ. Which places Mormons in that category! Praise the Lord Mr. Walkers eyes and heart were open to the truth.

  11. Kay said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 2:11 am

    As much as I respected the man..I don’t think he’s a pillar of Christianity…he was raised Mormon, not Christian..which someone already pointed out is a cult. Had a child out of wedlock..was living unmarried with his girlfriend..made movies where there was sex, drugs, violence and prolific swearing. I just watched his last interview given today and he swears often in it. Was he a good person..yes..was he born again? That’s between he and God, but it sure doesn’t look good in my opinion.

  12. jpo said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 2:41 am

    I would like to see a citation for the article you found about Paul Walker going to christian school. I can’t say I believe it to be true unless citation is made.

  13. katew said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 3:01 am

    To those of you expressing doubt as to his salvation: So based on what you think you know of this man, you’re entitled to decide if he was “Christian enough” to be in the Christian club? I went to a Christian school for 12 years and remain active in my church. One of the Bible passages we learned is man sees the outside, but God sees the heart. Perhaps more of us should keep that in mind before speculating if this man was a Christian or not.

  14. Toni said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 3:29 am

    Does the brick walls we call the church or the name on it have anything to do with this man proclaiming to be a Christian? Last I checked, in the Bible, he proclaiming faith in Christ is all the proof any of us need. Don’t be so hasty to judge. Last I checked, in the Bible, God is the only judge. Blessings :)

  15. admin said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 3:30 am

    JPO — the citation you seek is in the hyperlink in the second paragraph which links you to the original article. It was Village Christian School in Sun Valley, CA. You can google his name and the name of the Christian school, you’ll find more verification including a yearbook picture.

  16. Matt said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 3:45 am

    Religion and all its glory doesn’t save you, RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ does, so its a fair statement as a born again Christian to compare salvation with a relationship as opposed to an institutionalized religion. :)

  17. chuck wilson said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 4:44 am

    JPO…here is a citation for a litle bit about his bio: http://www.christianpost.com/news/paul-walker-on-christian-faith-who-couldnt-believe-theres-a-god-109846/ I dont know Paul Walker’s heart or faith but its not for us to judge. If he was a born-again believer, its not impossible to think that Hollywood had an adverse effect on him. While there are many good Christians in Hollywood, keeping the faith there has got to be a near impossible task if you are involved in the cultural slaughter of just about any kind of religious belief,especially Christianity.
    As a teacher in Christian schools for many years, I appreciate that you brought this out Dan. Its probably a good thing more people didnt know about this…you see what they did to Tim Tebow…just sayin’. Dr. Chuck

  18. Maureen said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 5:47 am

    Jpo, I went to Village Christian School with him. It’s true. And back in 6th grade, he wasn’t punky at all. He was VERY clean cut and preppy and quiet in class. And of I course, very good looking!

  19. Christina said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 6:06 am

    Those who were his classmates at Village Christian School remember him as a classmate and a friend, never as a famous actor. He never let his success go to his head. He was humble, kind, and always remembered his roots. We went to high school 25 years ago and lived in Santa Barbara together. Whenever we ran into each other he always flashed his beautiful smile and hugged me so tight and told all those around him that we went to high school together. Paul was an amazing man inside and out and is definetly an angel in heaven. He and his kindness and goodwill will be missed. The world lost a beautiful soul. My thoughts and prayers are with Paul and Roger and their families. ❤️

  20. Kimberly said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 6:26 am

    JPO- I went to VCS with Paul …. I can confirm he attended a Christian school. He was a good person. His place with GOD is only known by him. He was raised up right and in a loving home. Our VCS class of 1991 are devastated by this tragedy ..

  21. Seth Taylor said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 6:33 am

    Reading the comment thread was more fascinating than the article. I thought about writing something, but instead thought I’d post a quote: “The Pauline question of whether [circumcision] is a condition of justification seems to me in present-day terms to be whether religion is a condition of salvation. Freedom from [circumcision] is also freedom from religion. I often ask myself why a “Christian instinct” often draws me more to the religionless people than to the religious, but which I don’t in the least mean with any evangelizing intention, but, I might almost say, “in brotherhood.” While I’m often reluctant to mention God by name to religious people–because that name somehow seems to me here not to ring true, and I feel myself to be slightly dishonest (it’s particularly bad when others start to talk in religious jargon; I then dry up almost completely and feel awkward and uncomfortable)–to people with no religion I can on occasion mention him by name quite calmly and as a matter of course.”‘
    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    May Paul Walker rest in peace.

  22. Bettygirl said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    Thanks for the article. I pray that he was a Christian. The bible state you should know them by their fruit. We don’t judge to condemn, but even though God knows the heart of man, we would know by the outer appearance. Because the God in you should affect the outside. I have read some really good thing about him… but remember.. works don’t get us to heaven. I think we all do good work for the good of the people.. but is it for the good of the Kingdom of God too. We should be watchful of our soul every day and every hour.. for you never know when the your time will be cut short. Love you all.. Great comments about this man.. Glad to see. God Bless!

  23. Ginny ( Risk ) Smith said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 10:42 am

    Were you at Berean Christian School in WPB Florida? I went to school there in 4th grade.

  24. Beverly said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 10:43 am

    Paul was a Believer….Enough said!

  25. Paul Walker - a reminder for those who teach in Christian Schools - Saving Our Future said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    […] Read the rest at Dan Burrell […]

  26. Beverly said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 10:48 am

    We need to focus now with prayers to his daughter..
    I wish everyone would quit with the negative remarks. Don’t worry about his beliefs. He will answer to the Lord. Worry about your life instead of others. Prayers being sent to his family, and to his buddy that also died…

  27. Gina said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 11:55 am

    For the record, I too had read in a few places where he said he grew up Mormon but was a Christian now. Of course, it’s still between him and God what he truly ‘owned’ for a relationship but this is the Statement of Faith from his High School which clearly is not Mormon:

    We Believe

    …the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.

    …that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    …in the deity of Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

    …that for the salvation of lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.

    …in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life and by whose infilling the believer is equipped for service.

    …in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost: they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

    …in the spiritual unity of believers in Christ.

  28. Chuck said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

    Laurie, I’m sorry to say, but you are wrong. The definition of cult is a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. NOT just those that deny Christ. That may be the definition you choose to accept, but that doesn’t make it right. By definition, ALL religions are cults. People just choose to label those they don’t agree with as such.

  29. corgi mom said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

    the thing that helped us when we heard of his death was the fact that he was a christian. john 3 16

  30. Chad dalton said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

    I love all of my Mormon friends but have a major disagreement theologically. We believe Jesus is God as Christians of the Bible. We do not believe he is a created being. To say Jesus is a created being is heresy for the Christian here in lies the major difference among a few others between Christians and Mormons.

  31. Lori Beth said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

    Cheryl, There are other definitions of cult. Look on line you will find many. The one place you may find answers is at gotquestions.org

  32. Bob said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

    Jargon like, “relationship with Christ” & “born again” are pretty worthless in determining right standing with God and security of destination. In talking to many of my christian friends I find that terms like that can mean quite different things to different people. Even trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins the Lordship of Chist can engender different meanings to different people. We Christians, especially, need to take off our “God” hat and “Holy Spirit” complex and stop judging other and focus on what God is asking us to do in relationship to Him and the other people He has allowed for us to have in our lives. Are we loving, encouraging and sacrificing our selfish desires for the ones we live with and around who are still alive. No wonder so many who do not call themselves Christians are hesitant to get very close to those of us who do.

  33. Angie Johnson said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

    Isn’t that between Mr. Walker and God? Whatever our faith may be it is not our place to judge. There are many different opinions but ultimately God is our judge! We should really be thinking and praying for those that were left behind and the sorrow they are going through> God bless you all!

  34. Donald Karnes said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

    To many people are caught up in “religion”…..what they don’t understand is Religion– is the feeble attempt by fallen mankind to reconcile himself to a Holy God. “But God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”…….. That is God’s completed work to reconcile Himself back to sinful mankind.

  35. Kc said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

    For the record- “Mormons” are Christians. We do believe in the savior Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ. I respect my fellow Christians, “Mormons” or not, and I would like to think that others would respect my religion. Rest in Paradise Paul Walker! You were amazing! :)

  36. James said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

    This thread blows my mind. For anyone to think that Mormons are not believers and followers of Christ have never ventured outside of the pew inside their own church. I mean come on, the name of the church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints. (and just so you know, I am capitalizing JESUS CHRIST because that’s how they write it, not because I am trying to exaggerating it). I know many people that belong to the Mormon faith and they are good, honest, kind, hard-working, charitable people. I challenge any of you that think that Mormons are not Christian to sit down with missionaries the next time they come knocking on your door. You don’t have to join them but just listen and learn what they truly believe rather than live in ignorance and bigotry. After you learn the truth of what Mormons believe, think back to the person that told you the lies about them and realize and remember that satan is the father of all lies and if someone purposely spreads lies to deceive you, then ask yourself, who do they serve. Then ask yourself further, who do you serve by following said person.
    Also go back and read through all the comments of all these “so-called” Christians and look at all the negative, cutting, judgmental and bashing remarks toward the other people that commented here. I guess that whole LOVE THY NEIGHBOR died with Christ huh? Anyway after reading these comments it seems the only true Christian was the Mormon girl (CHERYL) who just shared her own beliefs without tearing anyone else down. Maybe the only real Christians are the Mormons.

  37. James said,

    December 3, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

    Oh and one more thing that I wanted to share that a Mormon friend showed me. This is a scripture from The Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 25:26, 29 “26. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” “29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Isreal; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.”
    Call me crazy but it seems pretty safe to say that they believe in Christ.
    Maybe do a little research next time before you make horribly incorrect statements about someone else Laurie, Magnix, and Dan.

  38. Wendy said,

    December 4, 2013 @ 1:25 am

    Thank you for the great, supportive article, Dan. I must say, though, after reading the many comments, I’m quite disappointed with the ‘Christian community’ commenting on your wall. As mentioned above (and in the bible), our personal relationships with God, and Jesus Christ as our Savior is first and foremost. We cannot judge others’ hearts. Did Paul sin, absolutely. So does everyone. His ‘sins’ are just more pronounced because they are blasted all over TV and movies. Does that mean he fell from God’s grace? No. So we, other sinners, why are we publicly judging him so viciously? We all make mistakes and we all sin. That’s one of the reasons it is so amazing, Christ’s love for us.

    He was brought up Mormon. Good for him and his family for following a religion that honors parents, the golden rule, and brings up many good citizens. Is it not what you believe? Fine. Don’t go there. It is not the church for you. You state it’s a cult. So are all religions. We have charismatic leaders, we are requested/required to follow specific rules, and much more. (Thank you, Chuck, for pointing that out!) So why judge Paul based on that? Why judge him at all?

    The article states “Paul Walker looked back on his education at a Christian school as the base of his spiritual training that moved him away from Mormonism into a real relationship with Christ.” Many of you then said Mormons are not Christian. I love to break it to you that THEY ARE. Maybe not the way you WANT them to be, but let’s look at the term ‘Christian’. It is someone who follows Christ. The Mormon church teaches salvation through Jesus Christ and also to follow his teachings. The part that muddles everything for people not in the church (including myself) is the second book’s origins. Back to the term Christian, it was a negative term given by the Romans to followers of Christ. It was a disparaging term! We now wear it as a badge of honor – and deny others the right to call themselves a Christian? Again, we do not know their heart and technically, they do believe in Christ so they are Christian by definition.

    A relationship is between two people. Shame on any of us other sinners for trying to claim to know what is ‘truth’. To defend based on our own personal beliefs is hypocritical and rude to Jesus. Every relationship is different. Why does everyone’s relationship with God have to be the same – based on how YOU believe a relationship with God should be?

    You say you can judge a man’s heart by his deeds and what he does? As one person said ‘his fruits’? Paul’s legacy says he was a good, just, decent man. Many on this chain who knew him and went to school with him will attest to that. That’s as Godly as we can get as we are all human and we all sin.

    Paul Walker was a beloved, good person. He did not presume he was superior to others and lived his personal life to serve and help those in need. He is being regarded by many people (famous and not) as one of the most decent people they’ve ever met. I can only hope to live my life (sins and all) in such a way to leave a legacy that strong and wonderful behind.

    I am a Christian and a realized sinner who tries to do better every day. I don’t have to judge him as I am grateful for John 8:7 “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone”. Let us all try and remember that when verbally assaulting people on-line. Especially people who are unable to defend themselves.

    May God bless you all as we all continue to grow in Him. Please remember Paul’s daughter, family, friends, and colleagues in your prayers.

  39. Judith Harrison said,

    December 4, 2013 @ 3:46 am

    It’s sad that so many people believe the FALSE rumors about the LDS faith. We DO believe that Christ is the Literal Son of the living God. He is our everything! Our Savior and Redeemer. He is the CENTER of our faith. Not just a great man. The very name of our church says it all. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

  40. macario roco jr. said,

    December 4, 2013 @ 5:04 am

    Descipleship is not only for sharing. Discipleship is obligation to those people who need to know more about second life. My point is if you want
    To disciple not only on his or her infant situation in christian life,, like a seed we need to care until they’re growing old and strong . With grace of God.

  41. Nancy Day said,

    December 4, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

    Concerning the mormon faith the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

  42. ed said,

    December 5, 2013 @ 1:40 am

    Check this quote from him. Not sure how reliable.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=787216547961418&set=a.102241206458959.5311.100000192406515&type=1&theater

  43. Gregg said,

    December 5, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    Mormons are Christians. I know this because I am a Mormon. The best way for me to explain it is that mainstream Christianity misses out on some of the most sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father, such as Eternal Marriage. Mainstream Christianity actually began to depart from the original doctrine of Christ’s church at the first council of Nicea, where they made the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost one being. Mormons reject this post-biblical change in the doctrine.

  44. kimi Rollins-whitesel said,

    December 5, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

    Satan is winnig. Here is a person that professed to be saved, but for the most part, followed his family’s faith of mormonism . Noow everyyone is fighting and angry. We should be rejoicing the life of a really nice guy, and two families that need our love and prayers (however you believe) right now. It is horrible how those two died, and also hard because he was so young, – so get off of your soap boxes and not allow satan to tear us apart.
    May God comfort those in pain over this tragic event.

  45. Matt Swenson said,

    December 5, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

    Joseph Smith said in his first vision the angel told him not to join any existing church because all their creeds were abominable in his sight. For over 100 years Mormons have rejected the “Christian” label because they were honest enough to admit the LDS faith was fundamentally different from biblical Christianity. In the Mormon faith Jesus is an exalted human being, Satans brother, not the only begotten Son of God. You may have adopted Christian terminology, but all the definitions are 180 degrees off and no mater how many people you suck in with new party line, Jesus is the one who knows who is following him, and who is following the invented Jesus of Joseph Smith’s imagination.

  46. jpo said,

    December 18, 2013 @ 6:03 am

    This is becoming a cesspool of arguments that are based off pure speculation and personal bias. Bye. Bye.

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