A student stopped by my office to talk about reading the Bible — go figure.
He was dealing with a question that divinity school students often face: once you’ve learned to dig beneath the surface and read the Bible with an academic eye, how do you go back to reading the Bible devotionally? How do you sit through a Sunday School class in which the curriculum or the teacher (or both) use proof texts for doctrinal instruction but ignore important questions about the text?
We agreed that reading the Bible devotionally may be different, but certainly remains possible. Having some understanding of context, form, and the nuances of language can make devotional reading a richer experience, if anything.
But how does one find enjoyment in a Bible study class where critical insights or hard questions are either unwelcome or simply not understood? Does one speak up at the risk of alienating the teacher or fellow class members, remain silent and frustrated, find another class?
My philosophy has always been to teach Bible studies or Sunday School the same way I teach in divinity school: with all the honesty and insight I can muster. I have found that folks generally appreciate the opportunity to learn new things, explore different approaches, and ask hard questions of the text.
Baptists Today will soon be providing new Bible study resources that will make such encounters with the text available to classes anywhere. I’ll be spending less time writing news or feature articles, and a lot more time writing Bible studies suitable for use by Sunday School classes or other groups.
We’ll soon be announcing more information about the project, and hope you’ll consider letting Baptists Today help you “dig the Bible” as you might not have done it before. You may not want to go back.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.