Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

Real Bible student

6/24/12

 

To the church's way of thinking, the mark of a good Bible student is the sure knowledge of what is right, true, and beyond question. Bible study is supposed to impart knowledge and eliminate questions.

 

I accepted that definition of Bible study for a number of years, constantly seeking to read and thereby learn to provide the necessary answers, both mine and those of others. Under this paradigm, answers were good, questions were bad. Questions indicated two things, both negative- ignorance and a lack of faith. I was convinced that God did not look favorably on either of those two things.

 

Of course, the church's doctrine confused me more than a little when they ostensibly promoted Bible study but concurrently resisted learning anything new. That struck me as impossible. The more I read the scriptures and then engaged in serious reflection about them, the more I raised significant and difficult questions about what it said or with what the church taught that it meant.

 

After having that personal religious experience, I naturally, perhaps inevitably, gravitated to a new view of what real Bible scholarship means and how it is expressed. Now instead of looking for a Bible student to have the answers, ones which conform with Christian tradition; I recognize a real student of scripture by the questions they have based on their study. If someone says they have few, if any, unanswered questions, I feel certain that their study has not involved any deep and meaningful evaluation of what they have read and been often taught.  

 

Ironically, under this proposed definition of Bible scholarship, the skeptics and atheists become truer students of the Bible than the Orthodox preachers. The former group is constantly raising questions about the Bible. The latter treat questions as an affront to God and by extension to themselves as God's anointed representatives.

 

No, I don't think many of my questions will necessarily go away in this life. I don't have all the answers, and that causes some personal frustration. Despite that, I don't let anyone convince me that being a questioner means I am not as acceptable to God as one who unquestioningly follows the dictates of institutional Christianity. The church doesn't have the answers either and that is not their real problem. Their problem is that they don't even allow the unanswered questions to be voiced.

 

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