In His Steps

Blaine Robison, M.A.

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Teacher Guide

Background.  Charles Sheldon was a Congregational pastor in Topeka, Kansas, and in 1896 originally wrote the book In His Steps as a series of Sunday night sermons to young people.  Sheldon sought to use fictional characters from different vocational backgrounds to teach the meaning of making life decisions by the maxim of doing what Jesus would do in the same circumstances.  The sermons eventually were put together in book form and the complete story has inspired millions of Christians ever since.

Book Selection.  The book chapters listed in the study sequence are based on the 31-chapter unabridged version of Charles M. Sheldon, In His Steps, New York:  SMITHMARK Publishers, Inc., 1992.  An edited paperback version is also available published by Fleming H. Revell, 1984.  If the paperback version is preferred due to its much cheaper cost, then the teacher will need to adjust the chapter numbers.  I personally preferred the unabridged version since the editing of the paperback edition does not completely preserve the 1896 cultural setting with its mannerisms and expressions.

Practical Theology.  In developing the study I felt it important to interpret the issues raised by Sheldon’s book through the teachings of Scripture.  Students probably will not be aware of the postmillennial theology of the time (and reflected in the book) that saw the present age as the church millennium and the church’s mission as working for social justice and peace in order to prepare the world for Christ’s return.  Similarly, many Evangelicals today, most of whom are probably premillennialist, believe strongly in advocating social and political change and fighting social evils, such as abortion.  However, the teacher needs to challenge students to carefully consider whether Jesus (and His apostles) actually provided the sort of example that justifies our social and political activism.

SESSION

BOOK CHARACTER

BOOK CHAPTERS

SCRIPTURE FOCUS

1

Rev. Henry Maxwell

1, 2, 8, 29, 30, 31

Luke 6:46-49;
14:25-35

2

Edward Norman

3, 4, 13, 17

Luke 5:1-11

3

Rachel Winslow

6, 7, 19

Luke 10:38-42
John 12:1-8

4

Alexander Powers

5, 7, 8, 19

Luke 3:1-20

5

Virginia Page

6, 12, 13

Luke 7:36 - 8:3

6

Milton Wright

9, 19

Luke 7:1-10; 12:42-46

7

Rollin Page

9, 11, 16, 18

Luke 15:11-32

8

Jasper Chase

10, 17

Luke 18:18-30

9

Dr. Donald Marsh

11, 14, 19

Luke 8:16-18;
11:32-44

10

Rev. Calvin Bruce
Bishop Edward Hampton

19, 20, 23, 25

Luke 10:25-37

11

Felicia Sterling

22, 23, 24, 26, 28

Luke 14:1-24

12

Clayton Price

28

Luke 19:1-10

13

Clarence Penrose

29

Luke 16:19-31

 

To prepare for class, read the portions from the book In His Steps and the Scripture passage.  Then focus on answering these questions:

1. In the book each major character makes a pledge to “do what Jesus would do.”  What issues did the book character face after taking the pledge?

2.  What decisions did the book character make to fulfill the pledge?

4. What consequences did the book character experience from decisions based on the pledge?

3. What parallels or contrasts do you note between the Scriptural focus and the book character?

4. Are the decisions of the book character truly representative of what Jesus would do based on what Jesus actually did and taught?

5.  Is the pledge to do what Jesus would do realistic and possible for today?

6. What principles or lessons do you draw from the book and the Scripture passage that would help us live by the pledge today?

Copyright © 2007 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.