Wednesday, May 5, 2010

From a Christian brother...
Even great familiarity with the Bible does not guarantee understanding of it, as I can testify from my experience of theological education at a liberal seminary. My New Testament professor carried a Bible as well thumbed as that of a believing Biblicist, but it had apparently done him little spiritual good. He told us of how he had become involved in New Testament study, not out of any reverence for the inspired Word, but because in college he had been introduced to the higher critical method of Bible study, and he had discovered that the exercise of trying to determine the origin of a saying in the gospels was intellectually stimulating. Trying to sift through what he saw as the different levels of tradition to determine whether a saying was original to Jesus or part of early church tradition or the invention of the gospel writer was an enjoyable mental challenge for him. He said that it gave him the same kind of satisfaction as solving a crossword puzzle or figuring out the ending of a mystery novel. He gleefully described how he had squelched a pious but naïve student who once asked him to begin a class with prayer. He was on his fourth marriage, as I recall. His example illustrates how it is possible to derive mental stimulation from the Bible and nothing else.

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