Learning from the News

While teaching a Bible study class, I wanted to demonstrate the relevance of Scripture to the world in which we live and also to encourage critical thinking.

During my weekly reading, I’d clip relevant news articles and file them topically. Soon I had an assortment of articles on topics such as the environment, abortion, gay rights, goddess worship, and education.

In class I would read an article aloud, having asked the class to stop me when they spotted faulty logic or a flawed argument. If they didn’t spot the fallacies, I’d take time to point them out and explain them. Come Let Us Reason by Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks proved an excellent resource as I sought to sharpen my own thinking skills and view my world biblically.

Sometimes I would compile a handout using articles, cartoons, photos, and Bible passages that related to a topic that is relevant to the week’s lesson.

Here are some questions that helped us evaluate the articles we studied:

  • What are the author’s premises? These are the foundational beliefs that dictate the author’s thought processes. If they are false, then the conclusion is also false.
  • Is the article fair, or is the author’s bias evident? We would watch for word choices or photos that slant an article.
  • If you follow the argument to its logical conclusion, does it still make sense? “If it feels right to you, then do it” may sound fine until it is applied to an Adolf Hitler.

For one lesson, I used a tape from a news program about a preacher whose ministry to homosexuals included picketing funerals with signs such as “God hates homosexuals.” Here are some of the questions I asked:

  • How did Jesus treat society’s sinners and outcasts? Give examples.
  • How might this preacher’s actions affect a homosexual’s openness to the gospel?
  • What does God say about people who drive others away from Him by their lack of love?
  • How can we convey God’s love without condoning sin?

This teaching method took significant time and thought on my part, but it was worth it when I saw the class making the connection between their Bibles and their everyday lives.

John Green
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists