The Bible as Literature

“It’s because they don’t allow God there anymore.”

It is argued that over the past 55 years since Bible study and prayer time was removed from public schools that illegal drug use, out-of-wedlock child births, and juvenile crime have all increased while behavior and academic achievement have both worsened. Without the “moral fiber” foundation of Bible study, as California State College professor William Jeynes explains, there will be no improvement.

William Jeynes sparked the movement to reinstate Bible study as a literature course. In doing so, students are taught to read the Bible as simply a piece of literature rather than as the word of God. While some find the idea secular in nature, others think it to be ingenious. In providing specific time to delve into the books of the Bible, which then leads to discussion, students are inadvertently learning the Bible. Isn’t that the point?

Personally, I never became as engrossed in Bible study until after taking an Intro to Humanities course during my second year of university. Having identified as a Christian my entire life, I always felt a lacking in my understanding of what Christianity truly meant. After I was saved at age 16, I would try to read my Bible, get frustrated, and put it down; a cycle that repeated for years. I prayed, and I believed, but I didn’t fully understand.

Church and Sunday School is an obvious way to grow spiritually amongst likeminded believers. However, for those of us who are shy, and self-described as painfully awkward, finding your niche in a group is not an easy task. Combined with the insecurity of not knowing the Bible, it is much easier to just avoid the uncomfortableness. Until your spirit is hungry for more.

I started feeling the hunger after my Humanities course. My professor, who reeked of devout Christianity without ever having to say he was, seamlessly presented Bible literature study in a way that opened brilliant discussion rather than heated arguments. Never pushing his own views or stances on his beliefs, the professor forced us to read and develop our own ideas. As effortlessly as we developed opinions and answers for questions on Sappho’s poetry and Homer’s Odyssey and Illiad, we bustled with thought and examination into the books of Matthew, John, and Genesis. Some of my peers met my ideas with friendly debate, and for the first time in my Christian life, I felt confidence in how I defended my beliefs. Now in my last few semesters, I still utilize the same tactics for reading and analysis both in school and in Bible study.

I have never grown as much spiritually as I have over this past year since that Humanities course. I have developed a daily Bible reading habit and gotten more involved in Church (though I haven’t yet settled in any one particular). My prayers are deeper and more thoughtful. My struggles with anxiety and depression have diminished immensely. I am more confident, and I am more connected. It may be later than average, but I am blooming. I support the tactics being petitioned by the movement of William Jeynes because I have experienced the way that they work. Providing students with the necessary resources to come to God themselves will ensure that they will do so whole-heartedly and confidently.

If we want others to know God, we must show them how rather than telling them they are required to. We can help them to strengthen their desire to build a relationship with God, but we cannot build it for them. They need to know why they are Christians in order to understand, fully, that they are Christians. Our actions help to lead others to the word, or they help to keep them away; as Jesus instructs in Mathew 28:19, we must “go forth and make disciples.”

There is no appointment needed to have a moment with God, because He is with us every minute of every day. For believers everywhere, a connection to God does not depend on certain times and settings. Our connection is constant and impenetrable. As we learn in Romans 8:39, “…indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NLT). God needn’t be allowed anywhere that I go, because He will be there regardless.

 

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