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Wednesday
Jul202016

Back it up with Scripture

The first assignment I had in my seminary course this past semester to was to disscuss the importance and implications of the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament. I always feel uncertain about first assignments, because one does not know how the prof will mark. I'd had this prof before, but it was a Bible survey course, and we had exams instead of writing essays. 

When I got my paper back, I was relieved that I had not completely fouled it up, and I was happy with my mark. However, there was a comment from the prof saying that the strength of a few of my arguments would have been bolstered with some references to Scripture. That is not a new thing. I had that observation from my hermeneutics prof. I can be lazy with that.

Sometimes, when we've been in the church a long time, we know the general principles, but we may not know exactly where to find biblical support. That means getting out our Bibles and looking. I've done it myself on previous occasions while writing something.

When I was in high school, I had a really excellent history teacher, and he advised me to write as if the reader knows nothing about my topic. Of course, depending on our audience, it could possibly come across as patronizing, but I think the principle is a good one. We can't always assume the reader understands. When it comes to writing biblical content, we most definitely cannot assume that everyone understands. Levels of biblical literacy vary from person to person. Furthermore, we have to ensure that our understanding is biblically based, so when we write, showing our readers our sources is advisable.

In teaching my Sunday school class this spring, I asked my students (all who have been in the church for many years, most since they were children) if they knew who the Moabites were. No one could tell me. There are women in that class who have been in studies in Genesis and Exodus, and they did not know. I took them to some passages in Scripture to show them. Especially when we teach, we need to show the students how and where we drew our conclusions. It's part of modelling good teaching.

I can be lazy about providing the proper references myself in within the body of a blog post. When I make assertions about the nature of God, I should provide support. It's a good exercise, after all. In the 2016/2017 academic year, I will be taking Theological Foundations. I'd better get used to providing support for what I write.

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