Thursday, June 23, 2005

The 'non-academic' gospel

Does anyone know of any models for bible study that would be helpful for those who aren't really educated?

The only ones (for bible study) I know of so far are these two:

-The 'real' bible study, where every verse and passage is carefully expounded to understand the passage's implications then, which we then see how it can apply to us. But for those who aren't able to think like this, be it for the first few times trying this or at all even, this would prove to be too 'academic' for them, and put them off when the method used is the problem, not the message.

-And also the one where the person leading the study asks questions, leading the people to understand what the bible has to say in the times then and now.

The second one seems like it at a glance, but the questions that I've seen before are more 'academic' than anything, which aren't helpful for the type of people I had in mind.

Not trying to say that these are the wrong ways to go about it, but for the people who may not be able to understand, forcing the methods we're used to on them will not be very edifying, nor godly(unless they're willing to try and learn, of course)

And yes, it's in view of my 'missions field' that I'm trying to find out. A bit the late I guess, since it has been of a concern for a while(that the gospel seems like only for the educated).. =X

Then again, is this the right question to ask in considering this? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, would doing 2 ways to live be ok? Instead of using G.I.John...

hamster said...

My 2 cents - maybe what you can consider doing is getting the people involved to ask you questions. Preferably beforehand so that you can have a bit of time to prepare the answers. Whether educated or uneducated, eventually you have to return to the Bible, so maybe what you can do is show them how you reach the conclusions that you reached in reply to their questions, so that they start getting used to doing it on their own.

Actually what do you mean by academic questions? If you mean those deep deep questions as Matthias Media studies often uses, then I agree that they're academic at times. But no question about the Bible is really purely academic in my opinion unless it's about esoteric issues (such as how many generations will we be punished for our sins?). Some simple questions that aren't academic are just questions we don't normally consider such as
1. Who is God?
2. What are God's characteristics?
3. What does God have to say about Hell?
for starters. We sometimes take it for granted that we know the answers - and sometimes we don't really know. So it might be good to start from there. In fact, Discovery class in ARPC is modelled in this way - so that questions can be asked. 2WTL would then be a good module to use as part of that first step into teaching the gospel. Progressively you can then use books like "Basic Christianity".

Of course if the pple can't even read, then they'll have to rely in some part on the person who actually reads to them or for them. But it doesn't remove the fact that they would still be bursting with questions such as "Is pre-marital sex wrong?". Sometimes I feel the evangelical church with a middle-class demographic ends up focussing on the esoteric stuff such as how many levels of hell are there (??!) forgetting that just the daily life questions on how and why and what we are as Christians are the questions we can never completely find the answer to unless we continue to ask questions and find the answers. So when U mention academia, I wonder if this is what you're referring to?

Hope it helps - I'm rambling a bit :))

Anonymous said...

Really glad to come across your blog cos I'm struggling with this issue as well. Trying hard to treat my family members the Christian way, honoring my parents with respect.

Currently, I'm going thru' the Just Looking series by myself first and adapting it so that my mom can understand it. It is actually really helpful, I think cos it does address general but important issues as mentioned by Hamster. Like 'Who is God?' etc. And going thru it myself first really challenged me to think thru of my understanding of our true God.

God's Word is powerful enough to save. So I agree with Hamster that we eventually have to return to the Bible. You can be surprised that sometimes, the qns the 'uneducated' ask can be qns we overlooked ourselves due to our 'educated, narrow' minds. It happened to my mom asking me qns with regards to Christianity that I thought I knew, but when I attempt to answer her, I realize how inadequate I am.

Well, let us just continue to pray for our family members and trust God to work in them and in us.


Chin Cher said...

I'll be doing one such "non-academic" Bible Study this coming Wed on Nehemiah.

Basically, it will be the same as the academic study, the only difference is that I will answer my own questions in the BS.

GunBlad3 said... too many anonymous posters here...? *confused look*

When I say 'academic', I'm referring to the method of bible study that some of us are confortable with: the reading the entire passage to get the main geist of the letter/passage, the breaking of the passage into sections as far as we can see, the extracting of keywords and unique phrases, the questioning of why use this phrase, or why is the letter written like that, etc etc etc, all the way up to how can this be appplied, etc.

Some people (I think) may not be able to take it, given their backgrounds. Let's put it this way, we will never dream of using this bible study method exactly to teach children, for example. You know what I mean ;)

Of course we will have to go back to the bible, else the point of it all is lost! =)

Chin Cher: What do you mean? Can explain?

Chin Cher said...

My present thoughts about this issue is that the content is not altered, but the audience determines the MANNER we conduct the BS.

So for my present particular context, I've to answer my own BS questions as I think that's the most effective way to communicate the Bible to them.

taiyongchieh said...

I just came back from Indonesia, did some bible study with Vera's grown up sisters whom had never done any bible study before. We covered 4 of the 7 studies in IGJ. Didn't really specially plan for a 'non-academic' bible study. But I'm well aware that we need to take the audiences' context into consideration. So I tried to rephrase every single question.

Basically all the technical steps like breaking of the passage, extracting of keywords are done on my own and are transparent to them... meaning I didn't tell them about those things lar... we just go through the passages and the questions like how a primary school English teacher will do 'Comprehension' with the students. Like what Chin Cher said, it is like I answer my own questions. But being the pushy type, sometimes I still push them to think and look for the answer in the passage themselves.

Talking about all those technical steps in reading the bible like breaking down the passages and extracting keywords, I'm very glad that I was taught those things. But as I ponder a bit, I find it sad that Christians have to be taught to read the bible this way. I mean isn't this how any people read any piece of literature in the first place? I say… No thanks to centuries of false teachers who preach the word out of contacts to create their own mysteries and receive personal gains. And no thanks to the faithless human hearts that rather trust a dying rotten false teachers than the living word of God!