Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’

Sometimes Slowing Down Pays

August 1, 2016

Sometimes we pick up the Bible or another book that requires thought as we read. But we read through quickly, as if it were a cheap romance novel.

We heard someone say, it’s a short book. Read it through a couple of times a day for a week. In order to do that, we feel we must read quickly–perhaps even skimming.

I’ve noticed in small groups that often we’ll read through a passage–especially from a letter from Paul–and put the book down, sigh, and go “that was certainly¬† confusing.”

The writer of the introduction to the letter to the Ephesians in the Renovare “Life With God” Bible that I use, brought us into the study through the story of the archeologists who uncovered the South Stairs up to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It seems that the steps are an engineering mess. Totally irregular. Varying heights. Varying pitches.

“Could they not find a competent engineer to lay these out?” they thought. Or, perhaps they actually were engineered very carefully. You must approach the Temple slowly, with intention, with perseverance. One cannot just rush up to the Temple and declare, “Ta Da!”

Approaching thoughtful literature requires just such care.

There are 11 verses in the first chapter of Ephesians that are one long sentence in Greek.

We could read that through, think “Wow, that was complex,” and then keep on reading.

Or, we could pause and consider each phrase realizing that Paul was logically building an argument (proposition) a phrase at a time. As we slow down and break it down, we begin to see a pattern of thought.

Or the last half of the second chapter (Ephesians 2:11-22). We read that yesterday. “That was confusing” many said (probably voicing what we all were thinking). But I said, let’s just pause and look at the passage slowly. Who is Paul talking to? Who is he talking about? What was his message before? Oh, he’s telling us about how the death and resurrection of Jesus brought together all the different races of people into unity. “He broke down the dividing wall” between us.

There is a great lesson for us today. Think about that today. For a while. And consider your friends or those you know whose work seems to be to divide people. Perhaps our work should be to continue what Jesus began–let people know about how we all are brought together in unity through Jesus. That has¬† already happened. It’s just up to us to let people know.

When Studying Practice Discernment Using Sources

May 20, 2015

Look at this, she said bringing out a printed page from a Website. Look at what they say.

“The NIV [New International Version] says this.”

This Website says this.

I’m not sure when they removed rigorous study from university undergraduate courses. These days, I often think many graduate courses of study are the same.

Not that I was a great scholar back then, but I have met and hired people for many years who will tell me, “I took a course on that in college, so I am an expert.”

My comeback in 1982 is what I would still say today, “You took an undergraduate course. You barely have an introduction to that field.”

More and more I’m coming across people with seminary degrees, M.Div., who seem to have only a superficial understanding of the Bible. Take a look at the curriculum of many seminaries today. What in the world are they really learning? Are they getting a proper foundation for a strong faith with ability to teach. (Not to mention my real pet peeve–no leadership training and experience. They send their students into churches to be leaeders when they have no clue. And those of us in the congregateions are much the poorer for it.)

But with Bible studies popping up like dandelions in the spring, where are the teachers with a background of serious study?

Oh, let us just Google it.

Google helps us find stuff that you could never find. When I was a graduate assistant, my professor had me researching for a chapter of a book he was writing. I lived in the library for a while. Found little.


Google is only discerning when it brings you ads that the algorithms suggest would be interesting to you. Especially in Bible study, it will give you what it finds.

If you are using that for your education, you could easily be led astray. Theories and half-truths abound like an exploding rabbit popoulation. 

Picking your best guides should not be left to chance. Don’t believe everything you read. As I writer, I understand the irony.

By the way, the footnotes in your study Bible–they are not part of the Bible. They are the words of a scholar. Mostly they are of great use, but still consider the comments carefully.  And paraphrases. Beware.

Take care. Use your God-given brain to think about things before just clinging to a theory.

Again I warn, be careful and think thoroughly about what you read.