21 April 2009

frogless biology, bibleless theology

OK, time for a brief rant. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I lecture an introductory biblical studies course which covers everything from Genesis to Revelation. At the beginning of the semester I stated the importance (actually, the need) to bring one's Bible when attending a Bible class. I am intentionally over-the-top on this so as to be effective and memorable. Yet, it never fails that after a couple of weeks this habit falls by the wayside. So I continue to mention it throughout the semester.

But today met the boiling point.

This morning we were due to introduce Paul (we'll cover Paul the whole of this week), and when turning to Galatians I discovered that roughly one-half of my students did not have a text in front of them! I pointed this out, explaining to them that if they could not follow Paul's argument along with me that they probably won't be able to keep up - it is often hard enough when one is in fact reading it.

After my short quip about this condition it dawned on me that this is like sitting in a biology lab without a frog - nobody would consider this an acceptable method of conducting a lab. Yet this is how much of evangelicalism is conducting theology (in step here with Tom Wright's critique of Pauline methodology), sitting around to construct ideas which already sound good to us but which have no real basis in the text. There you have it - frogless biology and bibleless theology.


Brian Small said...

I have the same issue in the Christian Scriptures course I teach. And then the students wonder why they bomb on their tests . . .

:mic said...

. . . absolutely yes!