I’d like to be wrong here. On this one, I don’t think I am. I’m talking about the end of bible study in what is often known as a Bible Study.
Too many of us think of a Bible Study as anything but bible study. This is what I mean: Every other Thursday night, I get to teach the book of Romans at a friend’s house in Lancaster, PA. So far, I’ve spoken for about an hour each session.
Now, when I mentioned this in a discussion with someone who asked about it, the response I got was something like, “That doesn’t sound like a bible study; that sounds more like a Sunday School lesson or a sermon.”
So, I got to thinking about what we do in Bible Studies nowadays, and I came up with a hierarchy of Bible Study Necessities in today’s (barely) Christian Culture. So here it is, starting with the most important first:
1) Food. Lots of Very. Good. Food.
2) Friends. The kind that are gab capable. Should be cool, know how to dress, and definitely not show up to the Bible Study in an old car, unless it’s a Cool Old Car.
3) Opinions. Must be intense enough to garner interest, but still light enough to ensure that absolutely no one is made to think seriously. Why? Because the Think Seriously threshold is generally at the same level as the I’m Offended or About to Be Offended threshold. Most Bible Study Leaders know better than to cross this line.
4) General discussion within the rules. For rules, see #3, above.
5) More food.
6) More opinion sharing within the parameters of #3 again.
7) Bible study. Maybe.
Bible study has become bible discussion. The authoritative Word has become subject to a kind of group therapy session where the object is to leave feeling better than when you came.
The “I’m OK, you’re OK” rules of social interaction have definitely invaded our concept of the social Bible Study. The result? Everyone gets to opinionate, and all opinions are supposed to be treated equally. “Your opinion is OK, just like my opinion is OK. All right, so neither of know much about the passage, but that’s not important. The important thing is that we all get to share.”
So you come and you leave. Not convicted. Not challenged. Not changed. And, at all costs, definitely not offended. Always remember this cardinal rule: The more serious the issue under
discussion, the less you are allowed cite biblical authority concerning that subject. Don’t worry about non serious subjects, because you usually don’t look to the bible for them anyway.
So, when planning your next Bible Study, make sure you keep you checklist handy:
Light conversation? Check.
Bible study? Optional.
~ Joel Saint