How do you do Bible study? I suspect that for most of us it’s actually quite superficial. When did we last have an experience that might be described as “going deep into Scripture” or “being immersed in a book of the Bible”?
This spring, May 1-7, there is an opportunity to encounter Scripture—which is to say to encounter Jesus in Scripture—which will be unique and life-changing. My friend Dr Al Anderson has for some years taught a one-week intensive course on the Gospel of Mark for IVCF students from across Canada. The more I have heard about it, the more I have coveted (I hope in a good sense) this experience for Wycliffe students. Through this past summer and Fall, Al and Marie and I have been figuring out ways whereby Wycliffe (and other TST) students could take this course and get credit for it. This has now happened, and the course is available—thanks be to God!
So how does the course work? Here’s how Al describes it:
Over the course of seven days we will study half of the Gospel of Mark. Students will spend over 40 hours in study time, first in individual study, then in small groups and finally as a whole group. An inductive method is used, following a “manuscript” version of the text (that is, printed on 8 x 11 sheets without chapters or verses). The emphasis is on asking questions of the text and wrestling together to come to answers. The process is exhilarating, refreshing, and tends to unlock insights in the passage that have never been seen before. Ultimately it is life changing, as the new understanding of scripture tends to change students’ viewpoints and lifestyles.
I think you can tell from that that this is not like a NT course. Nor is it like a group Bible study, nor is it like listening to a sermon, nor is it like following a study guide. If it is like anything, it’s most like a week’s immersion course in a foreign language—except that the language is scripture.
So . . . what’s not to like? Well, the price, that’s what. One of the requirements is that you live in community for the week—at Glendon College (on Bayview in Toronto). This costs a further $500 on top of the College’s charge for the course. Oh wow. So I guess that means you can’t do it after all, even though it sounds really good, right? Almost $1,000 for a one week course? Get real!
But wait a minute. Doesn’t God come into this equation somewhere? I love what I’ve heard Peter Patterson, Business Director of the College, say more than once: “If we think God wants us to do this, we’ll find a way to pay for it.” (Not many business managers talk that way, trust me.)
The first question is not, “How would I ever pay for it?” The first question is, “Does God want me to do this?” If the answer to the second is Yes, then the next answer (also a prayer) is, “How on earth are you going to enable me to pay for it?”
It might be one of those occasions when a cheque appears out of the blue. (“I felt the Lord wanted me to give you this. I don’t know why, but maybe you do.”) Such things do happen. There might also be some “natural” ways to think about this. When people ask you what you want for Christmas, why not say, “Well, as you know, I’m an impoverished student. Money is actually the most helpful thing!” Or what about your church? Many churches have discretionary funds for people in particular need, or for students, or for youth ventures. James warns us, “You have not, because you ask not.” (James 4:2)
I hate to say it but, in the large scale of things, $500 is not that much. You will have greater needs at various points in your life. Not bad to start developing that muscle of faith now with some relatively small exercises, so that it’s strong when the real needs come along.