The Rapunzel Bible

by Barry Newton
It was a beautiful crisp Sunday morning in Cultureville as the Sunday school teacher headed to class. Confident that the lesson would connect with the hearts and minds of the students thereby filling the room with a lively discussion involving practical application, the teacher thought, “I’ve got a real winner here.”
The plans for the class were straightforward. First, significant clips from the movie “Tangled” would be viewed before a comparison would be made with salient quotations from the classic Rapunzel. The class would then be guided into interacting with the material by sharing their personal opinions about moral principles and everyday life applications. The teacher felt poised to unleash a killer class!
Truly such a Bible class would be a killer, but not in the sense of a winner. Would anyone confuse this group exercise as a Bible class? Hopefully not.
If not, then why might some teachers be planning just such a class for this Sunday? Are we so naive as to believe that if we substitute a Biblical text in this exercise for Rapunzel that suddenly we are engaged in Bible study?
If a Bible class involves nothing more than one or many individuals using a text as a springboard for airing their own moralizing opinions, then the same goal can be achieved with a Rapunzel Bible or The Three Little Pigs Bible.
If on the other hand, after serious contextual study of the scriptures the voice of God is heard, an authoritative voice which may even challenge our notions of what is right or how things ought to be, then we have a Bible class.
We need Bible teachers. However, if the teacher places greater value upon a democratic discussion of what this text means to me or accommodating the viewpoints of those in class rather than upon discovering the message God intended to be heard, then maybe it would be good to read James 3:1 again.
“Not many of you should be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a more strict judgment.”

2 Replies to “The Rapunzel Bible”

  1. Barry, You have struck a very important chord with the sea change occurring in many Bible classes. Why is it that “What do you think?” has been creeping into Bible classes, largely replacing “And the Lord said…”? Is this discussion style class (pun intended) a direct result of class attendees and the teacher becoming lesser Bible students than their predecessors?

  2. I expect that there are many possible causes shaping the goals and methodologies of those teaching Bible classes. For any given person, the combination of contributing factors could be one or several of many.
    Some of the contributing forces might be: the teacher is following someone else’s example; understanding the nature of post-modernism the teacher wants to accommodate those values so as to not lose students; being I’ll-prepared the teacher hopes to fill the time with class contribution; convinced that Gadamer’s hermeneutical circle is true and thus despairing of recovering the original message the teacher defaults to current opinion; the teacher does not have a good mastery of the material; being pragmatic and knowing that people adopt ideas quickly if they verbalize a message, the teacher misassociates students quickly owning their own ideas for comprehending truth, etc.

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