Friday, 28 May 2010

Good Will Hunting


Insert random mathematics textbook to justify blog post title. Done.

Raise topic. What are we trying to do with Bible studies? Done.

(make sure everyone got the joke – Matt Damon was a maths genius in the film, remember? And complex analysis could be what we do in a Bible study, or what I do in a post. Done)

Right, to the point. I was sitting in Bible study the other night, dissatisfied with being dissatisfied. I’ve always felt the weakest component of any study I lead is the application bit – where you take whatever principle you’ve extracted, and then say, so what? ‘How do we live this out in our lives?’ And discussion ensues, of course.

Being troubled about having had a great time correcting our understanding of a significant passage, and still feeling like the study had ‘failed’ for lack of obvious ethical application, my will rebelled. (Check you got the ‘will’ reference in the title. Done.)

I know it’s OK to just have a theological application…but it’s always felt like a concession to our cerebral style in this part of the world. But I wonder…is the desire to have a ‘go do this’ application wrong?

I think we like it because it puts holiness within our power. We simply need to exert our wills, and it’s done. The trouble is, I’ve never found my will very compliant. Just because I decide I should do something doesn’t mean that it happens that way thereafter.

And reflecting on it, I started to come to the conclusion that the vast majority of my growth as a Christian has actually been led by my mind, not my will. It’s only as my brain shuffles its priorities so as to get a clearer theological picture that my behaviour follows. So, for instance, my practical activity at church is driven – and I mean driven, not just subtly nudged – by my ecclesiology.

So, the question: should we in fact aim for a theological application as the default in Bible study…and raise the practical thing less often? Or am I merely justifying the thing I like?

Ah, navel gazing. Must have been a great study!

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