Posts Tagged ‘education’

Redefining Fruitful Bible Study

April 1, 2017

peppersvegetable_94065_pepper_green_half-mMy daughter was working on her first grade class project about fruits and vegetables. She chose one of her favorite vegetables to study, the bell pepper. Come to find out her beloved vegetable was in fact a fruit. Which lead to the discovery that cucumbers, eggplants, sunflower seeds and others are also fruits. Simply defined, fruits are the seed bearing part of a plant. My salad has never been more confusing. I have been misled my entire life.

Often there are three responses to new information:

1) We will lose all faith in those who gave us misinformation, even if it wasn’t their fault or intent.

2) We will not accept the new data as true, holding fast to our old tradition.

3) We adjust our lives according to the truth.

Of course, all three options might have you going through the five stages of grief.

184112978For my family, this information excited and encouraged us to dig deeper into botany. Did you know there are some plants that can figure out the type of caterpillar eating its leaves by the saliva, and send out an effervescent distress call to insects that like to eat that particular species of caterpillar? That would have been cool to learn in school! A botanist on one of the nature shows said concerning plants being able to communicate, “most people will say I’m crazy; most scientists will say I am wrong and crazy.”
nixvhedden.001And then I read that in 1893 a unanimous Supreme Court decision concluded that for import tax purposes a tomato was a vegetable even though it was proven botanically a fruit. At that time fruit did not have an import tariff
whereas vegetables were taxed at about 10%. The court dismissed empirical evidence instead relying on the popular ordinary word usage and (I’m not making this up) that they were usually eaten during the main course of the meal and not as a dessert.

That got me to thinking about Bible study. How do I process new information either from the study of language, culture, history, etc. or from reading devotionally? Do I become forlorn, dismayed or even angry with my past spiritual teachers? Do I dismiss it in favor of the court of public opinion? Or do I embrace God’s revelation, dig deeper and, reform my thinking and living in light of this new discovery?

The 1950’s changed our understanding of covenants after the discovery of a treasure trove of ancient tablets. We now know that the ten commandments were small stones which do not resemble tombstones. And there were two stones, not to bifurcate the list into two categories but to act as a carbon copy one for each party.

shutterstock_222869548I hope we keep discovering and learning and reforming in our theology without being dismissive or lose faith. Keep reading your Bible, and when God speaks may we have receptive ears. Who knows when that, “still small voice” might become a, “crushing clamorous sound” calling us to redefine our beliefs.

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Innovation needs Righteousness

November 7, 2015

I find it interesting that the Bible records two men named Lamech who have inspiring, imaginative, and innovative children. One son, Jabal, began the first communities and commerce by creating settlements and domesticating herds. His brother Jubal gave us culture by inventing musical instruments. Their other brother Tubal-cain gave us technology with the process for creating bronze. At the same time there was another Lamech whose son was a farmer. His only other description was that he was a righteous man. And only that son, Noah, was saved through the flood. I see the pattern reemerging with the new innovators and inspirational people disassociated with and ridiculing the righteous.

When Israel first became a nation their neighbors had far more advanced metallurgy. The Philistines had moved from bronze to iron unlike the Israelites. Only two people had these new and improved swords – King Saul and his son Jonathan. After David and his band of righteous men lived among the Philistines they were able to acquire the new smithing technology. David may have started with sling and stone but reigned with iron in his fist.

Technology and innovation are not bad but they are best used in tandem with righteousness. Did you know that hospitals in the West began because of Christians taking care of the discarded sick along the roads of the Roman Empire? The arts and culture appeared on the walls and ceilings, and in the music-filled halls of the churches before museums and theaters were created. New technology and the first major use of print media empowered the Reformation under people like Martin Luther and the printing press. Public education began in the 1780’s as an ecumenical movement to create what they dubbed Sunday Schools where children for the first time could learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and biblical comprehension no matter their economic status. Before foster care and nursing homes there were church-funded orphanages and convalescence homes. All of these were publically funded by generous donations and not underwritten by the government.

Some people say that the culture of America started to decline the moment prayer was taken out of school. I think it was earlier than that. It was when the church allowed all of these institutions to be run apart from the church. Our local schools are suffering because of an impasse on the state budget. Healthcare is extraordinarily expensive now that the government is managing it. Hospitals are ending chaplaincies. The red tape for honorable foster parents is both headache and heartache. The media even attacks Christians suggesting that just by being religious disqualifies one for even the office of the president.

Genesis reminds us that a nation filled with community, commerce, culture, and technology apart from God is no match for the Flood. I believe we are called to be innovators and simultaneously proclaim our righteousness through our work. Join me in reclaiming our part in the public to create a just society based firstly on Christian compassion.


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