Did you hear Pope Francis? “Jeb!” was all over it.
Immediately following the released climate change encyclical from the Pope, presidential candidate Jeb Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.”
Of course, abortion must be different. And that pretty much neutralizes Jesus.
Putting aside one’s party affiliation, Bush’s response represents a daunting disconnect between faith and theology. Is this true for our congregations? Are we doing our jobs as clergy and lay leaders for theological education?
Walter Wink argues, “We have been subjected [in the church] to the academic and societal equivalent of a cerebral commissurotomy!” (Transforming Bible Study, Abingdon, 1980, Walter Wink, p. 26). In other words, we are not using in a symbiotic fashion our right (creative and emotive) and left (analytical and cognitive) brains for a holistic read of the biblical story. It’s at that intersection that we can own the story.
When I am conferencing with ministerial colleagues, we are always very high-minded about the philosophy and theology of teaching the biblical story. When we return to our congregations, we yield to filling teacher slots, settling resource options, and finding marker pens.
And worst of all, we reduce the veiled cry for informative and transformative biblical story to the programmatic and long-standing Sunday school. What is this disconnect all about?
Maybe it is helpful to evaluate the disconnect through notions of what informative, generative, and transformative learning of the biblical story is not about.
It is not about Sunday school but the biblical story. What are the methods and where are the places by which the biblical story is discussed and discerned?
It is not about developing a class consensus but the personal meaning for life and work. How are the everyday issues of our lives and of others being informed by the biblical story?
It is not about deferring to experts but the personal authority each individual has for rightly dividing the word of truth. How can church leadership move from right answers toward living out the right questions that cause us to mature in the faith?
In most of my experiences there is a teaching default to the analytical approach to biblical study. The creative or emotive approach will add dimension to the learning process. Wink submits that we aim for that, “the truth that the text bears has come a long way toward incarnation in our very flesh.” (p. 32)
Now that’s connecting to the biblical story.