I often feel like my blog is a mixture of the sacred and profane. I often choose to read very open-door romance books, but then I have more than a few Christian faith books. This is partially just what real life looks like. It’s also partially a product of the fact that I’m in graduate school for Biblical languages. I used to be super-religious, but am not quite as religious now, and this mix is a result of that.
Creative Bible Teaching is a book that I had to read for my homiletics class, and I can go ahead and say that it was a book that didn’t particularly suit me. Still, there were good things to glean as I went through the book.
Richards and Bredfeldt focus on the fact that the biblical teacher is an interpreter and begin their books with a reminder of how a teacher should go about doing Bible study. Then, they get more into how lessons are prepared and how students learn to attempt to provide a thorough method for instruction. Their big emphasis seems to be on the “Hook, Book, Look, Took” method for structuring lessons that they created. If you’re familiar with biblical teaching books, this is a method that is appropriated by many others. However, this book is the original.
I noticed . . .
There were two things that i noticed about the book that kept me from finding this the most useful book on teaching that I have read. First, they are begrudging in their use of educational psychology. They want to allude to educational psychology and use elements of it, but they can’t help but constantly criticizing the theories they are appropriating. I suspect that neither of these men are actually educational psychologists (or primarily in education), and found that they hampered the reception of their words by undercutting the very theories they were using.
The second thing that bothered me was that their view of inerrancy seemed to adhere to a very specific method of study and interpretation. As someone who is a student of inerrancy and inspiration as biblical language adjacent fields, I found this offensive. Perhaps more than anything this overwhelming feeling of disgust with that narrow view of inerrancy.
I wondered . . .
I wondered what changes I would have made if I had written this book. Then, I realized I would have scrapped the book and started over. <sigh>
I also wondered what this book would have looked like if they had not tried to poke holes into the educational psychology they were using. That might have been a book I would have enjoyed reading. I can’t say that for sure, but I think it’s true.
It reminded me of . . .
This book reminded me of so many things that are wrong with evangelicalism. It reminded me of Mark Noll’s words in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. He says that the problem with evangelicalism is that so much of the thought within evangelicalism is not academic. This book is an example of that.
Three Excellent Quotes . . .
Despite the fact that I have been hard on this book, there were several things that I either learned from it or that reinforced my beliefs about teaching. The first quote is one that reminded me that fidelity to the biblical message is the most important aspect for any Bible teacher to have.
Getting students involved in a class is not the same as getting them involved in the Bible. Authority in teaching the Bible is not derived from the teacher’s skill or the methods selected, but only from teaching what the Scriptures teach.
Our choices for teaching, of course, are what define us as teachers. Teaching the scriptures is central for the Christian teacher. How we approach the Bible and the things we leave out are just as important for the teacher’s efficacy. As Richards and Bredfeldt put it:
What we choose not to teach or exclude from our teaching of a subject also teaches.
Another reminder that they had for me is the reminder that teachers are often too wordy. We try to pack more into our lessons than our students can absorb. As they say:
The greatest obstacle to effective teaching is not that we teach too little but that we teach too much.
It’s better to have a focused point to one’s teaching than to attempt to stuff their brains. That’s something that I’m still having to painfully learn one lesson at a time.