Asking Better Questions of the Bible: Bible Day Conference
by Andrew Clarke
Exploring the Bible together as communities of believers lies at the very heart of our identity as Baptists. It is embedded in our historic, Scottish Declaration of Principle. The more I reflect on this, the more it strikes me that a key task of the gifted teacher is to help people of all ages in our churches learn for themselves how to ask good questions, as they engage together with the Bible.
Yet, how often has it been our experience that it is the teacher who both sets the questions and is the one to whom people turn for the answers? How can we instead inspire a culture in which the questions aren’t limited by the interests, background, education and outlook of the minister, but are broadened by also including the concerns, perspectives and agenda of other generations and outlooks?
Jesus loved to pose questions and, perhaps counter-intuitively for many of us who teach, he also loved to leave questions floating, without an immediate resolution. Many also came to him with their own questions, and were sometimes sent away to ponder – perhaps with their question a little more finessed by Jesus. For Jesus, learning was not always achieved through teaching, but sometimes by encouraging a climate of puzzling, of question asking.
This summer, we have planned a day in which we will use advanced tools of Bible interpretation to show how learning to ask different kinds of questions of the text can sometimes create opportunities for the Bible to reveal even more of its inner workings. Different questions can sometimes highlight revealing connections across the Bible – and, sometimes, these can lead to yet more questions!
We shall look in detail at aspects both of immediate literary context as well as intertextuality across multiple books of the Bible. We shall also consider the cultural interplay between the original authors, the specialist commentators we read, and ourselves as we apply an ancient, Eastern text to engage a typically Western audience. Detailed examples of interpretation will be drawn from both the Old and New Testaments.
The underlying premise for this day of exploration is that we will likely become better interpreters of the Word if we develop skills in asking better questions of the text. In recent years, I have been learning to become better at doing this; and, I keep being rewarded by wonderful surprises, a strengthening of my fundamental belief in the fathomless richness of Scripture, and a renewed excitement that as long as I keep turning the pages of the Bible each day, I will continue to find even more wondrous things in his law.
This day conference is for all who want to channel their enthusiasm for being surprised and excited by Scripture.
Keynote speakers: Andrew Clarke (BUS); Lisa Holmes (BUS); Abi Ngunga (St Andrews Baptist Church); Paulus de Jong (St Andrews Baptist Church and Scottish Baptist College).
24 August – 10:00-16:00
Adelaide Place Baptist Church, Glasgow
£30 incl lunch and coffee
BUS Leadership Development Lead