Thursday, February 16, 2006

going to bible college will destroy your faith


I lead a devotion at Bible College today. The slogan; “Going to bible college will destroy your faith” was written on the whiteboard as students came in. It’s been said to me many times and I reflected on how funny the statement is when you think about it; is faith that brittle; which lecturer will do it; do they organise it, take turns, play tag?

Asking the question; “Does bible college destroy your faith,” I turned to Paul’s autobiography in Galatians 1:13-18.

I pointed out the factors at work in the Paul’s storytelling;
text knowledge; “advancing in Judaism”
church knowledge; “traditions of my ancestor”
human experience; the Damascus Road
processing space; “after three years”
community engagement; “acquainted with Cephas.”

I suggested that while Paul’s faith was destroyed, it was also re-integrated. He was taking processing time to reconsider text and church in light of human experience. He was processing in community, checking his re-integration with Peter.

And this mix of experience; text; processing; community was lifechanging for Paul and moved him into ministry.

Considering church and human experience allow him to integrate his past and his emotions; Considering text knowledge allows him to integrate his intellect and build depth and continuity; Processing allows him nuance and insight; Engagement with Peter in community processingkeeps him down to earth and people focused.

This was integrating faith; text; church; experience; processing; community

All of us are like Paul; we bring human experiences, we bring church experiences, we have engaged with texts of Bible, history, culture.

And now we become aware of the gift of processing space and the gift of community engagement. So in fact, going to a bible college could, like Paul, be a life-changing experience.

I then told the story of being given a hard time by a friend in January; being told that as an evangelical I believed in a fast God. I was part of a system that gave altar calls for instant salvation, prayed for healing, and expected instant church growth, if not this week, then at least this month. Did I follow a fast God?

And what would it mean for me to follow a slow God; the God who took 80 years to prepare Moses for leadership; who took 40 years to get a people across a dessert; who took 30 years to prepare a Messiah ministry; who gave Paul 3 years for integration? Where is the slow God in my spiritual formation?

And so I invited us as a bible college into the following of a slow God and the life-long process of integration;

To avoid the danger of getting “stuck” on a text or tradition or experience and so avoiding integration;

To be patient and not panic over the processes of a slow God.


I then showed this QT movie; 3 minutes of integration; and invited them to pray for the person on their right and bless them into the integrating hands of a slow God.

(If I had time, I would have used two Jesus images; one of the Salvador Dali image of Christ of St John and another of Christ in the faces of the poor, to introduce Jesus as the integrator of, and integrator in; text, church, human experience, processing and community.)

Posted by steve at 11:11 AM


  1. Interestingly enough my daughters teacher gave a similar perspective at the Parent/Teachers night.
    It had a slightly different focus as it was designed to help influence our preteens and get us as parents really thinking of this issue. At this stage of a child’s development they are still wanting instant answers and questionning what they have done wrong in their Christian walk if they don’t receive them.
    Part of this focus was resilience and learning to accept difficult problems, and struggles that occur as part of our spiritual development.
    It was encouraging to see the need to support our children through failures ( rather than adopt a victim mentality ) as to avoid them at any cost does not assist with building strength of character.

    Comment by Paula Weir — February 16, 2006 @ 11:59 am

  2. Amen! When I first read this topic today I thought “I sure hope it does… just so long as it puts back together again in a new and bigger way!”

    Really appreciate the concept of a slow God. And I still like C.S. Lewis take on it thru Mrs Beaver and Lucy.

    “What’s an ‘Aslan'”
    “He’s a lion”
    “Oh! Is he safe?”
    “Safe? No. But he is good”

    May He never, ever be safe and fast and easy…

    Comment by Randall — February 16, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

  3. thanks. I really needed that moment of reflection – words and visul…I just finished at a Bible College, and now I work there and at a church….and I didn’t expect first year out to be so challenging!

    I think God must slow down a lot just so we have a chance to keep up! How great is he?!!

    Comment by Deborah — February 21, 2006 @ 2:03 am

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