[forthright] Proposing An Unusual Class

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2010 03:50:41 -0700 (PDT)
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

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Proposing An Unusual Class
 by Barry Newton

It would be an unusual math class for a teacher to ask
her twenty-something students what five plus seven
meant to them.

If a high school science teacher were to focus his
lesson plan around his students sharing their
impressions of what covalent and ionic bonding might be
and then allow them to walk away with those ideas, it
would certainly be a strange chemistry class indeed.

But it was a common Bible class as various individuals
shared what the text meant to them. Why the difference?
In our broad cultural currents, math and science, being
built upon logic and empirical conclusions, have been
generally understood as yielding what can be known to
be true.

Whereas a philosophic acid composed of naturalism and
skepticism has eaten through the humanities including
the field of communication.

Subsequently, sophisticated society offers little more
than a polite smile of pity for divine inspiration,
while maintaining severe doubts whether current readers
could ever recover an ancient author’s intended

The cultural result for the average person? Speak
merely of your perspective, do not be so arrogant as to
claim to understand what the text means. In a world of
competing but equally valid thoughts, aspire to
maintain a tolerant harmony.

Forget the silly notion of pursuing objective truth in
the realms of ethics, morality, human nature, the
divine or even history.

Many years ago in a young adult Bible class, some
disturbing thoughts ricocheted around my head:
   "Because we are simply sharing moralizing
   ideas which we already hold to be true, we
   are merely reaffirming ourselves while also
   being socialized by those willing to be most
   vocal.It would make no difference if our
   text was Robin Hood, Mary Poppins or the
   Bible. The result would be the same. Reading
   God's word in this manner hamstrings truth.”

Clearly, what was lacking under that teacher's tutelage
was an authoritative message from God confronting our
own perspectives, values and behaviors.

Wherever our Bible classes are reduced to sharing "what
it means to me," we need some unusual Bible classes.

Wielding responsible tools of interpretation, the clear
unmistakable message from God needs to replace
temporally limited and culturally-conditioned

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