Teaching Biblical Studies Section 9.1 Dept: Provost's Office Revised: February 1st, 1995

Full adherence is expected to the spirit and the letter of the official doctrinal and teaching positions of the institution. These positions should be openly recognized, along with reasons and evidences upon which they are based. These positions should be promoted positively and affirmatively, wherever relevant, in the subject matter of courses and in individual contacts with students. Some persons may consider these positions to be too narrow, and others may think them too broad. When differences of judgment, of understanding, and of maturity of understanding arise, as they surely do, these differences should be treated with sensitivity and with respect, along with positive affirmation of the Biola position.

It is appropriate at some points to present major and significant alternative concepts and views, identifying their content and the evidences for and against them. To deny consideration of major divergent schools of thought, even if only by non-recognition of their existence and essence, would be to fall short of educational coverage of the subject matter. Furthermore, it would be to miss out on the educational value of affirming what the Biola position is by contrasting it to what it is not. Alternative concepts should be treated with academic respect even when disagreeing with them. Generally, alternative schools of thought should be identified clearly as to what they are, what differences of presuppositions or of interpretations of evidences give rise to the divergences, and the relationships of the differences to the overall evangelical Christian world view. The faculty member should distinguish as clearly as possible between teaching a viewpoint and teaching about a viewpoint. In cases in which a particular jargon is commonly associated with a view, caution should be exercised to minimize misunderstandings in its use.

Practical application and contemporary relevance of the Biblical and theological content should be addressed directly whenever consistent with the particular subject matter involved. This is a significant factor in effectiveness of teaching in general, particularly so in dealing with the subject matter of biblical studies courses.

Teaching biblical studies for academic credit at Biola University is a complex situation. A major goal of all teaching is for the student to gain knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and familiarity with the methodology of the field. Such a goal is of importance here. The Scriptures, however, are considered more than academic subject matter. They are the Word of God written for the purpose of revealing God and His actions with the desire of bringing people into harmony with Him. Our acceptance of the divine nature and intent of Scripture gives ultimate meaning and direction to all studies relating to the Scriptures. Entailed in the furtherance of the divine intent of Scripture are many facets of study ranging from the practical procedures for the propagation of the Christian faith to the highly technical dimensions of critical biblical studies and philosophical theology. Throughout this diversity of endeavors and the wide variety of gifts and skills employed, however, all participants are finally engaged in a common task which may be summarily stated as the understanding, acceptance, and propagation of the biblical faith.

Other goals such as represented by the terms "exhortation" and "devotion" are of importance also and must not be neglected, but they do not play the same relative roles in teaching as they do, for example, in much of preaching. For this reason, the overall role of a professor in biblical studies is both similar to and different from the role of a preacher/pastor. Another point, both of similarity and of difference, between the roles of a professor and a pastor is to be found in the area of individual and group counseling of students. Both professions involve service in this area. The professor should be ready and willing to counsel students, both in the specific subject matter of the course and in the relevance of the subject matter to the student's day-to-day living, commitment and goals. At the same time, the professorial role should not replace the role of preacher/pastor. (Students should definitely be encouraged to affiliate with some local church during their time here.)

Professors are role models. They educate students by living as well as lecturing. Those teaching biblical studies must recognize that both their spiritual and academic qualities should enhance the student's ability to understand and appropriate the biblical message.