Bible Study Series – Knowing your Bible – The Book of Ezra
I work a few days a week as a Mental Health Practitioner in our local NHS Mental Health Resource Centre. GP’s refer to us people with such concerns as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders and we then offer assessment and interventions such as counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness.
It seems to me that there are two basic approaches to preaching the Bible. Let’s call the first the ‘Should’ position and the second the ‘Right’ position. ‘Should’ preachers use the Bible in order to tell their listeners what they ‘should’ do, how they ‘should’ live, what kind of faith they ‘should’ have and how they ‘should’ be attending meetings and telling others about the Gospel. ‘Should’ preaching makes the Bible all about ‘Us’. ‘Right’ preachers seek to lead their listeners to God through the pages of the Bible in order to encounter Him and His Glory. ‘Right’ preaching makes the Bible all about God.
There is a church not far, far away that I drive past on a Sunday night after dropping my adult children off at their various residences. As I pass I see people leaving, having stayed behind for the familiar tea and biscuits after church fellowship. As I see them walk home I find myself wondering if they realise that they attend a church that can be thought of as the last bastion of eighteenth century Welsh Calvinistic Methodism. What is ‘eighteenth century Welsh Calvinistic Methodism?’ I hear you ask. Well, it can be summed up by the phrase ‘It is better felt than telt’, as a way of expressing what is viewed as important in Christian experience. Eighteenth century Welsh Methodist placed great store on subjective experience. It wasn’t enough to believe in Christ, you also had to ‘feel’ your belief in Christ. ‘Mere’ faith was viewed as inadequate, even dangerous and so Christians were encouraged by their leaders to ‘seek’ experience, ‘not to rest’ until experience was found and even to ‘sue God’ until you ‘felt’ what you believed.