I'm preparing to teach a class on how to read the Bible and interpret it properly. The church that invited me has hundreds of members, but I don't think everyone will sign up. This class will be like a seminary-level deep-dive into the word of God. What fun!
Do you know what the best translation of the Bible is? The one that you read! Which translation do you prefer? My generation grew up with the King James Version, then later, the NKJV. Some chose the RSV. Today we have many excellent options. When I graduated from university, I discovered the New American Standard Version. Its words were beautiful. I loved its clarity and accuracy. It's very useful for word-for-word study. It is very literal as it renders the Hebrew or Greek word-for-word into modern English.
Later, I began to highly value the New International Version. It uses paragraph formatting, not line-by-line versification. It is more thought-for-thought translation. It forced me to consider whole paragraphs, to analyze the author's original meaning and intent. This is vitally important in order to correctly apply God's word.
Admit it, most people don't want to be forced to think. Thinking is hard work. Instead, we want pre-digested baby food, milk not meat. The majority of folks want someone else, a pastor or a teacher, to tell them what to think.
Thinking, studying, deciding what to believe, evaluating what is right -- that's challenging. Yet mature believers in Christ are called to reason out what God's word is saying. What did it mean back then? What does it mean now, for our situation?
Rote repetition of information is how most people learn, like memorizing the ABCs. It requires unthinking acceptance. No thought is given as to why a particular position is true. This lack of reasoning is dead tradition. It is very common in modern education. Schools are trapped in outdated textbooks and disproven scientific methods. This old methodology is how school systems, colleges and universities work today. With few exceptions, it's group-think, mind control. There is little room for dissent.
Sadly, due to a lack of gifted Bible teachers, that's how most churches operate. There's no deep consideration as to why truth is true. Pre-printed lessons show doctrine without explaining why or digging into origins. Young people especially must know why they are being taught certain things. Curiosity is never wrong. Inquiring minds want to know.
The next generation must be anchored in true truth (about God and country) and be able to understand it and explain it. Otherwise, our youth are vulnerable to deception, manipulation, and may drift into skepticism. Skepticism is the default mindset of moderns. Without answers, teenagers leave the church disillusioned, done with God.
In America, the unthinking educational system is antithetical to the kingdom of God. Why do I say that? Because, God wants us to think, to use our mind, our powers of judgment. Modern classrooms don't give space for digging into "why." They have to keep moving through the curriculum regardless of individual interest. The act of questioning, resolving, using deep analysis, glorifies God. This is why God confronts us with miracles, to elevate our sense of wonder. Faith is attainable.
The Lord wants men and women to think critically so as to arrive at correct conclusions. We need to be able to defend our positions of faith. Ask yourself: Is it biblical? Is it practical? Lectures alone are insufficient. Jesus used questions to cause his disciples to arrive at true conclusions for themselves. He didn't spoon-feed them with easy answers.
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Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Email him at [email protected] or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Editorial on 01/08/2020
Print Headline: In God's classroom