Tuesday, May 16, 2006

When and How do we use the Bible?

Was at school the other day when a youth ministry compatriot, and friend of mine, from a large church up the road, came to speak at Chapel (every second week, which the school basically runs like a youth service, upbeat music, youth speakers, its generally not too bad for the students)

Anyway, he was talking on the topic of drinking, always a good one to discuss with teenagers. Other than my constant issues with the one sided nature of preaching, I was keen to hear what he had to say.

He started off with some really interesting statistics about the levels of drinking in Australia (so much higher than even i thought!) and went on to discuss a whole bunch of Biblical perspectives on drinking, which all seemed really valid, apart from that one where i think its Paul tells Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach condition-which is totally not relevant to us, but anyway.

So he went on about all the different Biblical stuff, and quite clearly made the point that for Christians, drinking is OK, but getting drunk isn't. Which I have no problem with, other than the fact that most kids aren't Christians, so not massively relevant...

The thing that really got me thinking afterwards was the amount the Bible was used, which to be honest I think was way too much. Not before burning me as some Bible-hating liberal, hear me out.

See I really don't see the point in using the Bible heaps to prove a point to people that don't actually believe in the Bible. It's like trying to convince me of something by quoting the Koran, i may have regard for it as a holy book, but its not mine, so why would I listen to it? I reckon its the same with kids and the Bible.

If people don't already view the Bible as authoratative then don't try use it to prove stuff to them, because I really don't think its that effective.

See the way I look at it, pretty much everything thats in the Bible actually makes sense (when read in the right context etc) and should be able to be explained with common logic and reason that isn't necessarily from the Bible.

So in this case I would have just talked about why I don't think getting blind is a smart choice, told some stories from my own life and from others, talked about some stats maybe, and mentioned that this is all in line with the Bible, and how this is just another example of why God's guidelines actually make sense in real life.

I really did think it was a good message, just wasn't pitched to the right audience. Bible-believing Christians Yes, skeptical not really into the Bible non-Christians No. But thats just my opinion...


mase said...

v. interesting thoughts digs. good stuff.
what are your thoughts on the one sided nature of preaching?
heard a quote the other day that good preachers (or speakers) are always a precursor or a big part of, massive revolutions or uprisings etc. and this can be seem throughout history. where does Jesus-preaching come into this, what about teaching and what should the aim of preaching be?
Just a few qns ;)

Grover said...

Interesting discussion could be had around this Randle....I heard the sermon you are talking about on CD afew weeks ago with the post yr12 discussion group. But the real issue is the usage of the bible. I'm leaning the same way as you, if they don't even believe in the bible is there are point actually attempting to forming an agruement from it...I think not. Stories from you experience will often be better received and possibly created greater discussion. But there has be a time when the bible can be bought into the discussion, maybe the stories from it hold the greatest relevances??

owl said...

I agree bible-bashing is rarely useful, but a few verses give context and authority - otherwise the listener is hearing a person's views and experience only - one of a multitude (ie talkback radio) of voices.

Mim said...

yeah agree- esp for some kids, but for other kids that style might just really resonate.
If I was listening to that I'd more get 'the bible is relivent and makes scense to us as humans' more than the 'don't get pissed message' even when I wasn't a christian as such.
Didn't really take much notice of the bible (apart from some of the cool stories) till I relised through experiences and stuff I learnt at uni that the bible makes so much sence and could never have been written by a human.
Still don't read as much as I should and usually just don't get it till I've been through experiences etc then read the bible and find out that it was there all along- I just had to learn the hard way.
Maybe kids who've gone through stuff and relised getting drunk is just stupid who have a lot more respect for the bible after hearing that message.

Digger said...

Hey Mase, in a nutshell, I do really enjoy hearing a good preacher, and still think its a really valuable skill, but, I do get annoyed when I don't get the chance to interact with the speaker, clear up points not well understood etc.

But then i guess thats not really the point of preaching is it, so its probably more a reflection on my own preferences.

Obviously Jesus did preach, and was prob pretty good at it, but obviously wasn't his main gig. So its important, but not the main thing.

Digger said...

Hey hey! Grover! Good to see you finally get your arse on here and commenting!

Yeah I totally agree that the Bible is at some stage a part of it, I'm definitely not advocating ditching it!

What do you mean by its stories have the most relevance? In that they transcend just mine and your stories, and hold greater universal truths?

Digger said...

Yeah true that Owl, similar point to what Grover alluded to, that it does need to be something bigger than just mine or your story?

BTW Grover, would be interesting to hear the perspective of the 'Sophia's Story' crew on the different importance of stories?

Digger said...

Yeah true that Mim, some good kids would really get into that style of msg,but I'd say they'd be in the minority?

But would you get that "Bible makes sense' message only if you already agreed with that viewpoint?

Mim said...

If anything I was thinking (and only from my own experience)its the 'not so good' kids who'd get more out of it. It's the kids who've had their stomach pumped etc that know getting pissed is stupid- rebellion is a healthy part of being a teenager and drinking is one cheap, easy and effect way of doing that- not to mention the percieved social benifits. The good kids just have another level to their high moral ground.
That message would not have stopped me drinking, and if I'd clicked about the the bible thing doubt I would ever have admitted it- more likely to have sat in my memory and mixed with other experiences- like I said, it wasn't till uni b4 I clicked with the bible.
Main thing I hear from guys who went to christian school is that the bible/ christianity is irrelivent- if christians won't even use it to make a point I think we run the risk of confirming that way of thinking. but must be a balence.

naomi swindon said...

I am wading in here, but it seems to me that the use of the Bible in this example just reinforces an 'advice' approach,.. that few kids respond well to.

It wasn't that the speaker neccessarily did the Bible an injustice, but he did the kids one - by telling them his/the conclusions from the bible and common sense, instead of challenging or inviting them to work out.. 'what's a well-lived life like?' The bible is basically an account of peoples' efforts to live (live well or not, with God or not etc).. so checking out Ecclesiastes - the dude who tried it all - or wondering why Jesus turned the water into wine - trying the unexpected angles might have had a better effect in engaging them. I do think we need to 'open' the Bible up as much as referring to other formative stories (movies, our own lives etc), so they get the picture that it has relevance and connects. Consider teasing, like Jesus did.. rather than making it all too obvious & predictable etc.

What others have said about telling their own stories etc, is all I'd have added, too.

For what it's worth, I have run out of interest in sermons, too, digger. If I can't ask questions, comment or disagree, I get bored or distracted and, at best, choose to just preach my own sermon quietly in my head.
Anyway, cheers,

Digger said...

Hey Naomi, good to see you on here.

Yeah I actually really like your approach here, just presenting them with the stories, and challenging them to interact with with those stories, see what they might look like lived out, challenge their ideas/conceptions.

Yeah I'm still really trying to understand what it would look like to preach that Jesus style, just tell stories, try and tease a response out of people rather than giving in to the need to feel like I have to explain it all...

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