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Non-Denominational Bible Study Group

Christos3

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Last month I attended an Men's Bible study group. No surprise, I was the only Orthodox Christian in attendance. The rest of the group was made up of Baptists, Lutheran, Catholic and Non-denominational. I found the environment very strange. I am impressed how they can recite chapter and verse. But, it all feels very hollow. And as we will discuss Saints and how to apply their lessons to our lives, they will use contemporary religious leaders (e.g. Joel Olsteen, Tony Evans, etc.) . I was asked if I was coming back for April's meeting, I'm thinking to politely decline.
 

Luke

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What would happen if you quoted a Church father on the subject, say St. John Chrysostom or St. Cyril?
 

Christos3

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I did reference my Orthodox Study Bible and one of the fathers. They were polite, but I could tell they wanted to keep moving along. I would say it's more of how to be a better Christian man, than an actual Bible study, group. They are currently going through the Tony Evans' "No More Excuses" work book and DVD series.
 

Christos3

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If they're citing Joel Osteen, run fast and far.
They didn't quote him at that meeting. But, I am sure he will come up in a future meeting.
 

Stinky

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Run!
Quoting saints sounds like bait to draw non protestant in to convert you.
 

Luke

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Sounds like you will not get much out of it.
 

Christos3

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Sounds like you will not get much out of it.
You are right. I am praying that after Pascha our church will have in-person Bible study again. Not a fan of Zoom bible study.
 

LizaSymonenko

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I fear they might interpret the Holy Scripture incorrectly...

To save yourself confusion, and God forbid picking up an inaccurate concept, I would skip these types of gatherings. It is best to study within an Orthodox Group, preferably with a priest at the helm.

...if that is not possible... read the Church Fathers, etc.

I have Audible... and they have many good reference materials you can listen to.

I personally found the 8 hours of "The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew" super duper interesting. I have listened to it a number of times over the years, and each time I "hear" something I missed before.

If you don't have Audible, you can subscribe for a trial period, and the first book is free.
 

hecma925

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Good Muslims can recite the Koran in classical Arabic.
 

bwallace23350

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Or you could influence the group. I attend a non denomination Bible study. I am an Anglican who brings the Orthodox Study Bible. I steer the conversation into an Anglican direction.
 

Tzimis

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Christ commands us to stay away form people like these. They have distorted the faith and will damage your faith unless you are very highly learnt.
 

Ariend

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At least they are quoting the lives of the saints. A Bible study group I sometimes attend only consists of non-denominationals, and as expected, they never bring up any saints past the time of the Gospels
 

Christos3

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At least they are quoting the lives of the saints. A Bible study group I sometimes attend only consists of non-denominationals, and as expected, they never bring up any saints past the time of the Gospels
They aren't quoting Saints. They will quote contemporary religious leaders, I will bring up Saints. I spoke to someone from church yesterday and we are going to try and set up an Orthodox Bible study group in our town (we are an hour from Church), with Father's blessings and instructions.
 

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They aren't quoting Saints. They will quote contemporary religious leaders, I will bring up Saints. I spoke to someone from church yesterday and we are going to try and set up an Orthodox Bible study group in our town (we are an hour from Church), with Father's blessings and instructions.
Ah okay, I misinterpreted the og post then
 

rakovsky

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The Orthodox way to read the Bible in its distinction from that typical Bible Study group style is to read it with Church fathers' commentaries. You can get probably get an Orthodox theologian's verse by verse commentary. Lopukhin is great, but he is in Russian and I don't know if it's in English. Aquinas' Golden Chain commentary is "ok", but it only covers most of the NT, as I recall.

You could read your Group's verses for the days and then read the Commentary on it, and then every group meeting tell them what the commentary says, whether they agree or not. If they won't let you share from a Commentary, it means that they are teaching the Bible to you based on their own preconceived ideas/commentaries.

Typically in my experience I think that with many of that kind of "non-denominational" Bible Studies what happens is that they get together, read a chapter, and then share what they each think it "really" means, based on what they have already been taught or what they want to see in it. And the downside is that if you don't know the real meaning of the verse yourself, then they in effect are teaching you what it supposedly "really" means.

A disturbing example was when I was a teenager I was in a chaplainless general Bible study group at an institution, where about half the people were adults and I guess all were Reformed Protestants. The passage of the day was where Paul says that God gave the emperor the sword. We were not reading it with commentaries. (Paul was living under Nero. Paul's main idea was in line with classic Jewish ideas about how emperors like Nebudchadnezzar of Babylon were given power by God. I guess his point was against rebellion against Rome.) So one maintenance worker at the meeting announces that this passage is why he believes that Capital Punishment is right for the state to have. No one commented on that person's take, and not having commentaries myself or knowing the range of views of early Christians on the topic, I didn't know what to think. (Paul did not actually say that if you were the emperor that you morally should use the Sword to behead people. Eg. Nero historically beheaded Paul. It was not a moral act.)

So it's an example of how Bible Study can go bad, and it indirectly points to a practical problem in the idea that everyone can realistically just pick up the Bible and understand it on its own. At least this is one of the EO criticisms of that method of reading the Bible- each person ends up announcing what the Bible "really" means, and sometimes you are dealing with major moral, emotional, or doctrinal issues, so it lends itself to discord and division.

The place had two Reformed Prot. chaplains at the time, but it didn't strike me as odd that they didn't participate in the place's weekly Bible Study. I guess that they could have gotten into bad blood or arguments with the Bible Study people if the chaplains expressed their contrary views on verses and it brings up the whole problem inherent in the Reformed Prot. approach to authority, clergy, Bible interpretation, and deciding doctrines. One one hand is this stated or unstated idea that the Bible is the only authority and that it is self explanatory and that the doctrines are super important and that we follow the Bible only, not clergy or commentaries, in deciding on the teachings. But in practice you get Bible-only groups or individuals who each sincerely "know" the "real" meaning of the Bible and knows that the other group's opposite teaching is wrong. It's a recipe for discord at the least.

Typically what will happen at the Study is that someone will teach a POV that most people at the Study agree with (eg. Evangelical or Reformed POV) and then the other person will A. be quiet, letting that POV stand, or else B. say something else, at which point that majority POV will "correct" him/her, or else just not care much about the minority POV. It sounds like the latter is what is happening in Christos3's case.
 

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Typically in my experience I think that with many of that kind of "non-denominational" Bible Studies what happens is that they get together, read a chapter, and then share what they each think it "really" means, based on what they have already been taught or what they want to see in it. And the downside is that if you don't know the real meaning of the verse yourself, then they in effect are teaching you what it supposedly "really" means.
Literary criticism of Scripture.
 

Tzimis

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You're blessed! Riches are about to shine on you!
Lol, tell people what they want to hear and you can fill up stadiums.
 
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