Effective Bible Teaching by Jim Wilhoit

In this book, Wilhoit and Ryken detail the basic and necessary components to teaching the Bible. They start by explaining how to teach (such as “challenging” students with thought provoking questions), and then shared what to teach (i.e. parables or epistles) (48). An understanding of the educational process was highlighted. For example, the authors chose to include an except of Alfred North Whitehead’s “process of education,” which are “romance” (drawing the students’ minds and interests on the topic), “precision” (teacher instructing with “mastery of the field” so students gain an understanding of the topic), and “generalization” (the students internalizing what they have learned) (77).

I feel the main purpose of the book is to show teachers how to interpret Scripture and pass the interpretation onto others (85). Another important function of the book is to “look honestly at where Bible teaching stands today and diagnose where it fails” (15). It is important for a teacher to realize that the mindset one has in regards to the Bible will affect how he or she teaches Scripture (i.e. hermeneutics involved and belief of the inerrancy of the Bible). “Effective Bible Teaching” is a readable technical manual (a sort of “A to Z” listing) in how a teacher should instruct students using the Bible so they can ultimately incorporate Scriptural truths into their lives. This book is an encouragement as well as an instructional manual for Bible teachers.

The authors’ suggestions on how to get an accurate interpretation were simple yet worth mentioning- a teacher must discover two things: (1) What a passage meant to the original people for whom it was written, and (2) What it means for us today (32). I found the suggestions helpful because teachers who have been poorly trained may not have realized the basic information needed for proper Scripture interpretation (hermeneutics).

Although the authors devoted several sections of the book to address the importance of proper hermeneutics, they misinterpreted Scripture in page 63. They used Luke 6:39-40 to support their contention that Jesus “warned that students tend not to rise above the spiritual level of their teachers,” however this text is not about Christ. According to Matthew Henry, the “blind” are the Pharisees who are blinded by “pride, prejudice, and bigotry” and unable to lead people in the right way (http://blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Luk/Luk006.html). Those who “ignorantly” follow the Pharisees will follow them to “destruction.” The followers of Christ should not expect the world to treat them better than He was treated; rather they should be “dead to the world, and every thing in it” and “live a life of labor and self-denial” as Christ did. Based on this commentary, the Scripture had nothing to do with Jesus’ warning of a student rising above the spiritual level of his or her teacher.

Overall, I agree with the authors’ ideas, and their description of Bible teaching- which is “ministering to people,” changing their faulty ideas about God, showing them how to live in faith, helping people to get rid of “self-defeating habits,” and encouraging them to learn “habits of holiness” (51). These are important aspects of Bible teaching that all teachers should address.

Copyright © 2007 M. Teresa Trascritti

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