Contemporary Approaches To The Teaching Of The Bible In The Local Church -- By: Richard T. Murray

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 03:2 (Spring 1986)
Article: Contemporary Approaches To The Teaching Of The Bible In The Local Church
Author: Richard T. Murray


Contemporary Approaches To The Teaching Of The Bible
In The Local Church

Richard T. Murray

Professor of Christian Education,
Perkins School of Theology

“Contemporary” is a wonderful word, since it means so many different things to a variety of people. Unlike “new,” many contemporary approaches to Bible study have been around a long time, but are still serving the needs of today’s Christians and churches. In fact, a variety of approaches to Bible study which are being used in churches today are revivals of methods stressed many years ago, but which somehow lost their luster for a decade or two.

On the other hand, we do find a few approaches which are at least new in form, if not in type, and we need to be both utilizing these new advances as well as asking carefully what the strengths and limitations of modern technology-assisted Bible study may be.

While today’s approaches might be divided into a wide variety of categories, I find three divisions quite helpful. Interestingly enough, these divisions point in quite different directions, and stress very different results: (1) stressing an increase in factual knowledge of the Bible; (2) stressing the role of the pastor and the sermon in Bible study, and the involvement of the whole person in the biblical stories; and (3) stressing “changing a person’s life” and making the biblical story “Your story.”

Contemporary Approaches Which Stress An
Increase In Knowledge About The Bible

Many of these approaches utilize the great advancements in modern technology to achieve their goals.

1. Computer Assisted Learning (including video games)

It is now obvious that today’s computers not only can store vast bodies of facts, but also are marvellously adept at arranging those facts into as many helpful categories as the programmer’s imagination and skill can produce.

Thus a person can sit by himself or herself in a local church computer room and take a course in one or more books of the Bible—sometimes for college or seminary credit. These students not only see the data displayed on the screen, but their mastery of that data is also reinforced by frequent computer devices that “reward” correct performance.

As in any course of study, the point-of-view of the authors as well as their biases are built into all aspects of the program from the data included to the question asked and the responses desired. Since, in most instances, the student cannot ask questions, one must be tuned in to that which is included in the program to find it satisfying.

There are now a great many such...

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