- Awareness of how individual Christians base their lives on the teaching of the Bible.
- Reflect on how they learn to do new things.
- Analyse specific excerpts from the Bible to identify reasons given for reading them.
- Reflect upon other reasons why Christians might want to read the Bible.
- Analyse whether there is grounds for regarding the Bible as an authoritative source of information.
- Synthesise learning by writing a television advert that advocates a Christian perspective on reading the Bible.
Ask the class how they learn to do new things. If they need help, you could ask how they learned to do specific tasks, such as learning to swim, learning to play a musical instrument, learning to talk. Draw out that some things are learned instinctively, while others require specific instruction from someone who already knows what they are doing. Point out that even with tasks that require instruction, that instruction can come in a number of different ways: formal lessons, informal instruction, instruction books or manuals, online videos, etc.
Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be thinking about what Christians believe about how they get their instruction on how to live their lives.
Introduce the clip from the film Live. Die. Repeat/Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros, 2014, certificate 12). The film was released at the cinema as Edge of Tomorrow, but had Live. Die. Repeat (originally a strapline in the film’s advertising) added to the title for DVD release. Click here to buy the DVD online. Explain that William Cage (Tom Cruise) is a reluctant soldier, being sent to the front line in a war against an invading alien army. Ask the students to watch out for what in particular (other than the fear of imminent death) seems to be causing Cage the most anxiety.
- Start time: 0.13.33 (in chapter 2 of the DVD)
- End time: 0.18.31
- Clip length: 4 minutes and 58 seconds
The clip starts with Cage and his fellow soldiers strapping themselves into their high-tech combat suits. The clip ends with Cage screaming as he drops out of the flaming helicarrier.
Please note that the clip contains one instance of the word Christ used as an expletive, and a sexual reference, as well as a distinctly unsexy glimpse of a naked male bottom. If you feel any of these are inappropriate for your group, you could start the clip at 0.15.47, with the troops embarking onto the various aircraft that will take them to the battlefield.
Ask the students why they think Cage was so perturbed. Draw out that although he had all the equipment he needed for the battle, he was aware that he didn’t know how to make use of it. Ask if any of the students can identify with that anxiety. Are there situations they have faced where they felt that they hadn’t been given all the information they needed to know what to do?
Explain that there are many sources of guidance for getting through life. For example, advice from older, wiser friends or family; instruction books; natural instinct or learning from our own mistakes. Many Christians believe that one important source of guidance comes from the pages of the Bible. Some Christians have referred to the Bible as ‘God’s instruction manual for life’. While that only reflects one facet of what Christians believe about the Bible, it is a helpful summation of that facet.
Ask the students to keep Cage’s anxieties in mind as they look at the following Bible passages. In pairs or small groups, ask the students to see what each of the following has to say about why people should read the Bible. Ask them to particularly identify any parallels between these answers and Cage’s experience in the clip.
Luke 1:1-4 (says that it was written so that people could be certain of the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection).
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (says that the Bible is useful for telling people how to live).
John 20:30-31 (says that it was written so that people would believe in Jesus and have life in his name).
Take feedback from some of the small groups, and ask the class to reflect on what other reasons there might be for Christians to spend time reading the Bible.
Explain that Christians place great importance on the contents of the Bible. Point out that the wisdom of this depends entirely on whether the source of those words is an authoritative one or not. Give out the Bible factsheets and read through them with the class. Ask if there is anything on the factsheet that surprises them.
Read the following quotation to the class:
‘It is sometimes claimed that historians simply as historians regard Old and New Testament history as unreliable on some independent historical grounds. But… many events which are regarded as firmly established historically have far less documentary evidence than many biblical events, and the documents on which historians rely for much secular history are written much longer after the event than many records of biblical events. Furthermore, we have many more copies of biblical narratives than of secular histories; and the surviving copies are much earlier than of secular histories; and the surviving copies are much earlier than those on which our evidence for secular history is based.’ (Richard Purtill, Thinking About Religion. Quoted in Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli. Monarch books 1995).
According to this argument, the circumstances in which the Bible was written (particularly the number of copies that have been found and the relatively short period of time between the events described and the earliest surviving document) point to the Bible being, historically at least, a very reliable document.
But many Christians believe the Bible’s authority to be more than just historical. Ask the students to read through the following Bible passages, and to summarise what each of them says about the authority of the Bible (this could be done individually or in pairs): Luke 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Revelation 22:18-19. Once the students have had time to complete this task, take feedback on their findings.
Luke 1:1-4 suggests that the human writers of the Bible took trouble to ensure that they got their facts straight.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8 suggests that the events described had a number of witnesses, many of whom would still have been in a position to dispute them if the biblical accounts had been falsified.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 suggests that there was also a supernatural element in the authority of the Bible – that although it was physically written by humans at a particular period in history, those human writers were inspired by God and were writing what he wanted them to write.
Revelation 22:18-19 suggests that God takes his word seriously, and that the consequences of anyone changing it for their own purposes are very great.
The points raised by the first two passages provide an objective argument for accepting a certain amount of authority for the Bible, regardless of whether the reader is a Christian or even believes in any kind of supernatural world. The last two points are only persuasive if the reader accepts the notion of the Christian God. However, if such a notion is accepted, they elevate the Bible onto a level of authority all of its own.
SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:
Ask the students to write and plan a television advert for the Bible. The advert should present, from a Christian point of view, reasons why someone might consider reading the Bible on a regular basis.
YOU WILL NEED: