Open-Ended on Judging

I enjoyed my church’s Bible study last night.  We’re going through Margaret Feinberg’s Scouting the Divine: Searching for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey.

Something that I appreciate about Feinberg’s curriculum is that its questions are truly open-ended.  For instance, one question in our workbook was whether we think that Jesus in Matthew 7 was contradicting himself when he told us not to judge, right before he said that we know whether prophets are true or false by their fruits.  Not surprisingly, most of the people there did not believe that there was a contradiction.  One lady said that we are to be discerning but not judgmental, and her point may have been that we should be careful about whom we trust and yet we shouldn’t be condemning people or presuming to know everything about them.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d be a little out of place in the group were I to say that Jesus did contradict himself.  But what impressed me was that, as far as I could see (and I have not seen the Teacher’s manual), Margaret Feinberg did not provide us with some canned attempt to forcefully harmonize the passages.  Rather, she let us come up with an answer.  She did not tell us what to think, but she encouraged us to think I had a different impression when I went through a Kay Arthur Bible study, for I felt that I was being told what to think in that case.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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4 Responses to Open-Ended on Judging

  1. Reading other people’s books about what the Bible says is not like reading the Bible itself. I refuse to read other people’s books in a Bible Study. The only book on the table opened and being read in a Bible study should be the Bible. Go to the source, not someone’s explanation of the source. Thanks for sharing. Connie


  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I think it’s always important to come back to the text. But it’s not self-evident what the text means. That’s why books about the Bible are important. Moreover, if all you need is the Bible, why go to church?


  3. The man in the pulpit and the teachers in the classrooms at church should have the Bible as the Book to teach from. After all, it is God’s Word… right? Connie


  4. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I think that’s an option for Bible study—-to go through a Bible book. But once the pastor comments on what he thinks a passage is saying and how he thinks we should apply it, or people do that in a Bible study group, then they’re basically doing what those books you’re criticizing do. So why not study those books you’re criticizing? I hope my point is clear, even if you disagree.


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