Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to Revelation

I am beginning to teach a Bible study here in Turpin. After a survey of the congregation, I decided to go ahead and teach Revelation. This will the fourth time through for me.

As an offering to the congregation, I will be posting my notes on a weekly basis (or as we get to them in class). This is quite an undertaking. My class on Revelation is almost a year long (at 1 1/2 hours once a week). It is also as close to a college level class as you can find.

Before I begin each class, I share some of my methodology and rules for the class. I will post those here to begin. This would be comparable to a syllabus.

Most of the material will be in outline form. If you feel the need to take this material, please contact me and let me know you will be using it.

Class Rules for Revelation Bible Study

Methodology

This is the 4th time I have taught this level of class on Revelation. I have devoted, and will continue to devote, 6-12 hours of study on each lesson. Each previous class I have taught was 11-14 months long. I do this for a number of reasons:

1.) Revelation is a book that is deeply misunderstood, causes confusion and anxiety, and is difficult to read.

2.) This book has a relevant message for the church of the 21st century as much as it had a message for the church of 1st and 2nd century.

3.) I love to teach and help others find their own level of understanding. I don’t want you to finish this class agreeing with me as much as I want you to finish this class with a deeper understanding of what you personally believe and passion to learn more.

I will teach in lecture style. But if you have questions or get confused about something all you have to do is stop me and ask. I will make my notes available to you by photocopy or posted on my blog. If you want to discuss an issue with me privately I will make myself available at a time that is convenient.

Understand that I try to teach a middle ground perspective. I try to find the best quality of research and study along the theological spectrum. I avoid teaching extremist positions but will read them to become familiar with what they say. I then attempt to synthesize the material into what I believe is a balanced lesson. If you feel strongly that something has been left out, bring the material to my attention. I will give it a fair evaluation. The Left Behind books are NOT scholarship. They are fiction based on study. They do not count.

I have my opinions. I try to place my opinions to the side and bring a fair representation to all perspectives. But understand that I have come to my opinions through many hours of study of the material at hand. If I am not being fair, call it to my attention.

I have a set of basic rules for this class.

1.) In disagreements Christian charity must lead. Revelation can be a fight starter. If you do not agree with someone’s position, that has to be okay. I encourage healthy, Christian debate, not argument, of your particular viewpoint.

2.) This is a study for which there are few historical or logical reference points. Historically the events described may be attributed to many eras. The images described within the book are just that, images, and open to a wide range of interpretation. What we are studying will be left to each person’s own interpretation. No one is more or less valid.

3.) We are all at different levels of understanding. If you do not understand, stop me and ask me directly. I will not be offended if you interrupt and I will not think that you are unintelligent. If I tell you to hold that question, I mean only that. Write the question down and ask me again later (in a few minutes or after class).

4.) Be open to change. Every time I study this book I walk away with a different understanding about some part of it. Part of the fun of studying the Bible is the change that it makes within us. Any change should reflect an ongoing, growing relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

5.) Have fun and learn something.

There are also a few things I recommend for this class:

1.) Get a good Bible.

i. It should be a readable, reliable translation

ii. It should not be a paraphrase

iii. Avoid the original King James

iv. Avoid the study notes and commentaries until after you have thought about what you read

2.) Study along. If I tell you what we will be covering then read ahead. But as you are reading, make it active reading. Take notes. Ask yourself questions. Mark important things in your Bible. Journal about new understandings or questions. Pray over the material. By doing this you will grow in two ways: you learn the material and you learn how study skills to apply to other books of the Bible.

3.) Get other resources

i. Dictionaries, lexicons, concordances help with understanding words and themes

ii. Commentaries are opinions of interpretation

4.) Talk to others about what you are studying

5.) Bible study doesn’t end at the end of class.

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