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Opinion on Dr. Joseph Schafer's testimony 
14th-Oct-2006 03:12 pm
As I talked about it in this post, Dr. Joseph Schafer makes some ridiculous claims about topical Bible study. He says the following in his testimony:

“The vast majority of preachers today use topical Bible study, bringing together passages from here and there to make a point. This method is popular, but it suffers from a severe drawback: the one preparing the message already has a preconceived idea of what the main point must be, so he rarely learns much beyond what he already knows. This method does not challenge one to deeply examine his own personal and cultural prejudices to see if they agree with the revealed truth in God’s word.”
15th-Oct-2006 05:15 am (UTC) - More on Dr. Schafer's testimony: preconceived idea
Part I

Dr. Schafer claims the following about topical Bible study:

”This method is popular, but it suffers from a severe drawback: the one preparing the message already has a preconceived idea of what the main point must be…”

I don’t think Dr. Schafer clearly understands what a preconceived idea is like in topical Bible study. Contrary to Dr. Schafer’s claim, most people who prefer topical Bible study do not have any preconceived idea of what the main point must be before the study of the topic. The main point of their topical study is determined during the process of topical study. I am convinced that Dr. Schafer does not know anything about topical Bible study. But if Dr. Schafer were a good Bible teacher, he would know that Jesus also used topical Bible study as St. Paul also did.

Consider for example Dr. Schafer’s confession that he is a man of fear. He claims that Dr. Samuel Lee, who he claims as a man without fear in his testimony, trained him to overcome his inner fear. In this way Dr. Schafer paints fear with very negative color in his testimony. He is conveying the idea that fear is not a good thing at all. But is it really?

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” So I claim that fear is a really good thing. In Proverbs 1:7, fear is associated with knowledge, wisdom and discipline. Genesis 9:2 says, “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea.” God used fear to protect man in the fallen world. Imagine what would happen if your dog or cat do not have fear of you! Romans 13:3 says, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.” The fear of punishment deters anyone from committing crimes in civil society. Hebrew 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” In holy fear Noah build the ark for 100 years which was impossible task. So I ask Dr. Schafer: Is fear such a bad thing as he depicts in his testimony?

Now I claim that fear is a bad thing. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” In this case fear is associated with snare. Luke 1:74-75 says, “To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” God wants us to serve him without hear. John 19:38 says, “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away” In this case Joseph didn’t act according to his Christian faith until the death of Jesus because of his inner fear. Fear sometimes deters us from doing what is right before God.

So as we considered some Bible passages, it looks as if the Bible says that fear is good and fear is also bad. So does the Bible contradict itself? No! We believe that the Bible is the absolute truth of God and free of any fallacy. Therefore the contradiction must be found in Dr. Schafer! In this way the need for the “topical Bible study” of fear is manifested very naturally.

Now suppose that I choose the topic: the study of fear based on the Bible. By choosing this topic, do I have a preconceived idea of what the main point must be such as fear of God is good and fear of man is bad? No. I wouldn’t know what the main point is going to be until I conduct my study and reach certain conclusion. If Dr. Joseph Schafer, who claims to have been trained in MIT, were a good researcher, he would already know the process of reaching certain conclusion through rigorous study beginning with certain topic. How could he come up with such an absurd claim that preconceiving a topic equals preconceiving the main point? I begin to have a serious doubt about his academic integrity.

Continues in Part II...
15th-Oct-2006 05:47 am (UTC) - Re: More on Dr. Schafer's testimony: preconceived idea
Part II

At this point we cannot but ask this question: Why is this debate about topical Bible study and expositional Bible study? I mean what is the point of Dr. Joseph Schafer’s criticism about topical Bible study and praise about expositional Bible study? Is the methodology of the Bible study more important than the Bible itself? Should we really care this much about what methodology we should employ to study the Bible than the word of God itself? Should we spend our precious time and energy in defending certain Bible study methodology more than defending the word of God itself? I personally do not care if one employs topical Bible study or expositional Bible study as long as the methodology works better for him. But I would be very much concerned if one claims that anyone who wants to study the Bible must do it only using expositional Bible study. I would be very much concerned if anyone criticizes topical Bible study in order to promote expositional Bible study as Dr. Joseph Schafer and other UBF leaders do.

Bible study methodology is more or less a matter of preference. One could prefer topical Bible study to expositional Bible study. Why is this? It is because both of them are not perfect. Expositional Bible study has its own strengths and weaknesses. So does topical Bible study. Therefore one should not be dogmatic about the Bible study methodology. Expositional Bible study is not part of our Christian dogma. Nothing can be put before the Bible. Nothing can be given higher priority over the word of God itself. Bible study methodology comes after the Bible.

When we, the former UBF members, criticize UBF expositional Bible study, do we criticize the expositional Bible study itself? Do we criticize UBF because UBF employs expositional Bible study instead of topical Bible study? By no means! We criticize UBF because UBF leaders like Dr. Joseph Schafer force people to study the Bible ONLY using expositional Bible study and do not allow people to study the Bible using any other methodology such as topical Bible study. This is very very wrong. UBF leaders like Dr. Joseph Schafer try to enforce Dr. Samuel Lee’s Bible study methodology exclusively in UBF just because it is employed by Dr. Samuel Lee. In this way, UBF leaders and Dr. Joseph Schafer respect Dr. Samuel Lee’s theology and his methodology more than the Bible itself. This is what we, the former UBF members, criticize UBF about.

Why does Dr. Joseph Schafer care more about employing expositional Bible study exclusively in UBF by criticizing other Bible study methodology such as topical Bible study? If one of his sheep says that topical Bible study works better than expositional Bible study, would he happily encourage him to do so? Or would he willingly change his own methodology and accommodate his sheep’s preference? If he wouldn’t, why not? I know he wouldn’t because if he did it would be a great sin against God in UBF. This, we the former members do not agree and criticize.

Since I do not have great confidence in Dr. Joseph Schafer’s spirituality and intelligence, I would make one more point in this post. Now Dr. Schafer might raise a question like this: Are you saying that everything is just a matter of preference or personal taste? No, I am not saying that. Obviously, one cannot say that he prefers stealing. One cannot say that he prefers murdering his enemy! I also think that it is so absurd if one prefers to be a woman when in fact he is a man! So there are certain matters that we cannot treat them as a matter of preference since these matters are related to morality. That is why it is said that you shall not steal; you shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery. But it would be absurd to say that you shall not employ topical Bible study; you must employ expositional Bible study.

Dr. Joseph Schafer doesn't seem to have learned what matters must be treated in the domain of preference and what matters must be treated in the domain of absolute morality. This is no surprise because he was trained to glorify Dr. Samuel Lee’s theology and methodology blindly. So I cannot but conclude that Dr. Joseph Schafer, the MIT-educated professor, is only boolsheetting with authority as many other stupid UBF leaders do.
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