Sharing Of Ignorance

This week in Connect Groups we’re thinking about Listening To God Together, the first of our Connect Group aims.  It’s a great way to kick off the new groups by laying out from the start how we’ll approach the Bible.  And there’s a lot at stake.

Over at the Proclamation Trust’s blog, there’s a quote from somebody who left evangelical churches like Emmanuel behind to become a Roman Catholic instead.  One of his big problems was how small group Bible studies worked.  He said:

“I’m sure there are a lot of good Bible studies out there, and a lot of well intentioned people, so I don’t want to go overboard.  But it’s not only my opinion [that evangelicalism tends to be self-help rather than Christ-centred].  There have been some recent academic studies by anthropologists who have examined evangelical Bible studies.  They report that people don’t pay too much attention to what the text actually says.  People search around in their heads, their memories, and their feelings for something that seems to connect to the text.  And then, they conclude “Oh yeah, that makes me fee like..” or “What I think is that….” or “In my opinion, what it means is…”  Usually the text is serving as a pretext to affirm something they already believe, rather than as an authoritative text to challenge what they already believe.  There’s no other way to put it.  There’s a lot of sharing of ignorance.”

Isn’t that tragic?  Especially after what we heard on Sunday about the life-and-death importance of listening to God when He speaks.  We’ve all been in those Bible studies where people are staring at the ceiling rather than at their Bibles when questions are asked.  But as Adrian Reynolds at the Proc Trust rightly points out, “the answer to these kind of Bible studies (though they cannot really claim that title) is not to move to Catholicism, but to have better Bible studies.”

QUESTION: What can we do to make sure that our Connect Groups really get to grips with the Bible when we get together?

This is the third of a short series of posts about our new Connect Groups.  Keep checking back for more.