From Sept. 18 until Oct. 16, Lead Pastor Drew Poppleton led a five-week class he called “Biblical Literacy.” The goal of the class was ambitious: help every Bible reader, both seasoned and newbie, to understand the Bible better by introducing some of the “big picture” ideas. The theory is that if we understand some broad ideas, then we’ll be better equipped to make sense of the specific passages we encounter while reading.
The class was only five weeks. It covered significant ground while leaving lots of room for future additions. You are encouraged to review these materials for your enrichment. Please comment below on what was most valuable and what you’d like Drew to cover in “part II” of this course.
Session 1: An Overview of the Bible — We spent most of this session answering the question “What is the Bible?” Participants were asked to write a description that would make sense to a nonbeliever, regardless of whether that person was from the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the city of Montreal, or the farmland of Benzie County. It led to a rich conversation about the variety of ways to describe God’s Word. Toward the end of the session, Drew distributed this simple sheet and a sample infographic (the Infographic Bible is a great resource!).
Session 2: Metanarratives in the Bible — A metanarrative is a grand narrative running throughout a text that helps reveal the story’s ultimate meaning or purpose. The Bible has many metanarratives and anyone who wants to be biblically literate needs a basic knowledge of these metanarratives. Drew handed out this 4-page document to get people started.
Session 3: The Prophets — At the end of Session 2, Drew sent participants home with a copy of Ch. 1 of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s (see here). While most Christian resources on the prophets highlight the predictions regarding Christ, Heschel highlights another important aspect: the nature of the prophet and his intense concern for God’s will and God’s ways. Jesus not only fulfilled the predictions, but also embodied the desires of the prophets. If we want to understand both Christ and the prophets, we need to read Heschel. During the actual session, Drew reviewed these highlights from the reading.
Session 4: The Psalms — Most people love Psalms 23, 91, & 139. They are also unafraid to dive into Psalms like 1, 19, 22, 27, 51, 96, 103, & 150. But most Bible readers fail to venture beyond about 15-20 well-worn psalms. The purpose of this class session was to empower people to do just that: explore all the psalms. During the session, participants reviewed this guide sheet to the Psalms. Drew also handed out one of his favorite resources: A Guide to Writing Our Own Psalms of Lament. That guide has helped many people process losses in a biblical way. You should give it a try!
Session 5: How to Read the Bible — There is no one right way to read the Bible. Instead, there are many ways. We should choose a method based on the genre of the passage (is it poetry? gospel? letter? prophet?), our goal (are we seeking to cover a lot of ground or dig in deep?), the context (where are we and how much time do we have), and other important factors. In this session, Drew reviewed a few simple methods that have helped people over the centuries. This 4-page document guided the conversation. Here’s an example of the What? => So What? methodology: 1 Thessalonians journal. Drew also handed out a supplement based on the Ignatian practice of Lectio Divina: Guide to Using Lectio Divina in Groups.
That’s it! Hope you enjoy the resources and hope you comment below on (a) what’s helpful? and (b) what ground to cover in future sessions.