If there is anyone out there who reads this blog and is in my Intro to the NT class at BCNZ, please don't take this personally.
The truth is I have just marked a set of content tests examining the student's knowledge of the Pauline epistles. There were 30 questions all with four possible answers (multiple choice). The students had 4 weeks to prepare and were told what was involved. Read through the Paulines, take note of the themes and remember where stuff is found. In class I have told them that Hebrews is not one of these; no Hebrew's scholar has argued for Pauline authorship in the last 50 years. To make the test interesting and to narrow down options I threw a few obviously false alternatives like 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, Hebrews, Acts etc. I also threw in 'Elijah' as one options.
Would you believe it, but a HUGE number of students chose these options! I am in a state of shock. No one got them all right, the best mark was 27 and most were between 16-23. I would have thought that if I was given this test before I started bible college study I would have got between 15-20. I would have thought many would have done so.
What is going on? Firstly, how is it that BCNZ students come to college with such a poor biblical knowledge? Secondy, how is it that even when given clear directions as to how to study, many cannot do it? It seems, they don't know how to read the text!
My reading of the situation is that the NZ evangelical church is not built on the basic idea of teaching and knowing the Word as it was. Expository preaching is out the door, replaced by Christian wisdom for living. Small groups are built on relationship and not on bible study. Many I think have never studied the bible and don't realise how important it is.
We have to raise the standard. If we call ourselves Christian, we should know our book which tells our story better than any book in the world. We should read life through it. We need to know it so we can check out the rubbish that many are propounding today, like prosperity teaching. We need to know it to pass it on so that the faith stays strong. For BCNZ students, knowing the text of Scripture, the big story, its background and how to put it together; is foundational! Every other area of study including every arm of theology, the world and life itself is to be read in the light of God revealed in and through his written word; we know the Living Word through the written word.
So if you read this; learn the story! Come on BCNZ; we should lead the nation in this!