Every semester the first class for many of our freshmen at Anderson University is an 8:00AM class and is the course “Introduction to the Bible”. As I start every class with a question, their first encounter with higher education is the question, “Why study about the Christian Bible?” The student’s answers are often predictable. We study the Bible to learn about God. We study the Bible to grow closer to Jesus. We study the bible to get answers to questions. Many times what they miss is a key word in the question, “about”. I agree with the answers that are offered but then I turn the tables and emphasize the word “about”. Again, “Why study about the Christian Bible?” Often there is silence. Then someone will add to the discussion, “Where did it come from?” Another will offer, “Who exactly wrote it?” Now we are on the track I want to ride. This is not an attempt to depersonalize the Bible or turn it into just another secular document. I have already heard the story of the professor in a secular university tossing a bible to the floor in a poor attempt to demonstrate that it is just another book with paper and ink on its pages. No, the Christian Bible deserves better. We do not worship the Bible but we do hold a special reverence for it in the Christian faith. So, what is the next step in our attempt to answer the question at the beginning?
Did you know that 54.2% of the world’s population identify with the monotheistic faith offered in the Bible?Did you know that 54.2% of the world’s population identify with the monotheistic faith offered in the Bible? That is one out of every two persons on planet earth. The question most likely posed by a stranger is not “Who is your leader?” but “What is it you have in common?” In addition maybe probing a little deeper, “What is your reason for being?” Where do we turn for the answer, the Bible? Yes, after the accounts of creation and fall in Genesis chapters 1-11, we turn the page to Genesis chapter 12 and the beginning of the story of Abraham. It is from Abraham that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam find their first embrace of monotheism. That’s where the 54.2% figure earlier comes from. Each faith statement has its own history and outcome but what they do share is Abraham in common. It would be wise to find out more about this Abraham and the faith he propagated as numerous as the sands of the dessert and the stars of the sky.
The Bible is one of the most researched ancient documents in existence.Did you know that there are over 5000 early documents, some in parts and some whole, of the Christian Bible. The Bible is one of the most researched ancient documents in existence. Moreover, there are plenty of supporting documents to validate its authenticity. Did you know that there are over 40 authors identified in the Bible and it took nearly 1,500 years to write the 66 documents contained within the Bible. Also, the contents of the Bible never contradict itself! What is truth in one document is consistent with the truth found in any other document. It is totally true and trustworthy.
We will study about our Bibles in and out of class and often we will look for personal applications to the subjects we cover. The Bible cannot be studied without the reader being challenged by its teachings, encouragements, and even its chastisements. We will study our Bibles to see just how it came to be and how it resulted in the final form that it is today. These are only some of the reasons for studying about the Bible.
Asking, “Why study about the Christian Bible?” on the first day of class is meant to challenge and to motivate the student to do just that, study the Christian Bible. Of course, quizzes, journals, and tests are also great motivational tools. Years later, former students still remind me of our class and the time that “such and such” was the topic of discussion. Asking questions at the beginning of class is an excellent teaching method to get the class “going”. Asking the right questions can lead to a lifetime of learning.
–To read more about the three monotheistic religions and their commonality and differences with regard to Abraham I recommend The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by F. E. Peters.
Dr. Motes is Associate Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University and has brought over 20 years experience in Church related ministry from service in Churches in Virginia, North and South Carolina. He has worked in Associational Missions, has taught and continues to teach a variety of subjects in church settings, and is published in Sunday School Leadership magazine. As an “Army brat” his upbringing has enriched his multi-cultural perspective for ministry.