Think you know the bible? There’s a Bible Bee

The first one was in 2009 (I know because I wrote about it) and I see it’s still running. Ken Ham is promoting it on his blog.

August marks the start of regionals with the finalists to be head-to-head at the finals in Orlando, Florida at the end of October.

This year’s theme for the AiG ministry is “Standing our Ground, Rescuing our Kids,” based on Galatians 1:4. It’s one of the reasons we support something called the National Bible Bee in the USA.

Now, the Bible Bee is a family discipleship program—with a competition at the end of the year—for students ages 7–18. Through the summer, families will be memorizing Scripture and studying God’s Word, preparing to be tested on their general Bible knowledge. The format has changed this year. You can read about the changes at BibleBee.org.

Will do, Ken.

First, though, Galations 1:4 — “who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (via)

I wonder what particular evil is on the minds of organizers this year. “Standing our Ground” really puts me in mind of the shooting deaths of several Americans over the years, whether they possibly “deserved” a bullet or not. I doubt a nine year old did. Maybe the intent with the theme is something like, “Use your bible as your gun and your knowledge of verses your bullets to pierce the souls of the heretics and light them with the fire of the Lord our Jesus amen…”

At the Bible Bee website, I learn that the first round starts on August 23rd and serious money is up for grabs by the end of this event, available in cash and scholarships. (Award breakdown here.)

The site offers a multitude of study tools, all which entrants (or their parents) must pay for, in order to make memorizing the bible a lot easier and supposedly more fun. It’s still the bible, though, and at the end of this nobody’s really more educated or enlightened by memorizing entire chunks of it.

The Shelby Kennedy Foundation (also referred to as “SKF”) is the parent organization of the annual National Bible Bee. SKF sponsors the Bible Bee to help families strengthen their personal relationships with the Lord and dynamically impact the world as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. The vision for the Bible Bee is to encourage parents as they disciple their children through in-depth study of the Word of God, Scripture memorization, and prayer.

That’s from the scholarship website just mentioned. I’ll quote another article from 2012’s contest.

This year, organizers cut back on the amount of information students were required to study in preparation for local competitions. With the help of special guidebooks, parents can now effectively lead their children in their Bible Bee studies in about 20 minutes per day.

Those who qualify for nationals, however, are eventually faced with much greater intellectual challenges, including the memorization of several hundred verses of Scripture.

“The top 300, when they come here, it’s a whole different ball game. They’re the Olympians, they’re the ones that have really studied and worked hard,” said Widdoes.

It’s not intellect, it’s memorization. Two different things, isn’t it?

I Google to find a definition of intellect for proof of this. The Free Dictionary offers these:

a. The ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding.
b. The ability to think abstractly or profoundly

I’ll bet a cookie that none of that is happening at a bible bee. They aren’t being asked to write essays on the cultural impact of these verses and what they mean for society as a whole or debate the value of this interpretation of a verse other another. They don’t have to show they’re learning anything while they recite a shit ton of verses. They just have to memorize them.

I highly doubt this contest results in winners being smarter, more intelligent people. This just turns kids into bible parrots. How does that really help them in life and career prospects? The Atlantic pointed out something similar during the 2010 contest.

The obvious question in all this: Just what is the implicit value of memorizing the Bible word for word? Just because a kid can spell “appoggiatura” doesn’t guarantee he or she can string together a coherent sentence; likewise, does the memorization of vast swaths of scripture actually “plant a godly heritage in the next generation”?

Not surprisingly, the Bee’s proponents have answers to these questions. LaFleur, Widdoes, and Lawrence each talk about the power of “hiding the word in your heart,” an allusion to Psalm 119:11: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Replace “heart” with “head” and you have a pretty clear idea of the theory behind the Bee.

The article also points to a part in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Tom cheats his way to the top of a similar contest. I never read that book. My Banned Book club read Huck Finn recently, though. Tom might need a reading now just so I can say I’ve done it.

For LaFleur, the ability to instantly summon verses makes it that much easier to live according to the Bible’s dictates. “It’s so ingrained in my heart that I can just say it. I know it without looking it up,” she says. “It becomes so much more a part of every moment of your life. As you lie down and go to sleep, whenever it’s quiet, verses will come to mind.”

Well, okay. If that’s the ultimate goal for the bulk of the participants so be it. If it somehow gives them peace at the end of a long and trying day to call up verses that sooth and stimulate them, who am I to condemn it? I think the amount of time devoted to memorizing them could be spent in so many better ways but whatever. Their lives, not mine. Their time, not mine.

Thoughts? I always ask. Don’t keep them to yourself if you’ve got ’em…

Advertisements

2 Responses to Think you know the bible? There’s a Bible Bee

  1. Susan Taylor says:

    “I’ll bet a cookie that none of that is happening at a bible bee. They aren’t being asked to write essays on the cultural impact of these verses and what they mean for society as a whole or debate the value of this interpretation of a verse other another. They don’t have to show they’re learning anything while they recite a shit ton of verses. They just have to memorize them.”

    You would lose a cookie. They do not have to “just” memorize verses.

    Bible Memory is only 50% of the contest. Bible knowledge – putting what you have studied to use and understanding the principles is tested both in the SAT type test at the local and national levels. Then, on stage during the Final Challenge Round at the national competition.

    Unfortunately, your investigation has fallen short. Definitely not just a memory competition…even if you think it is a waste of time…these kids are studying, learning and able to apply the Scriptures, not just rotely state them.

    They have to show volumes of what they have learned from Hebrew and Greek word studies, cross references and the ability to answer contextual & application questions.

    These kids are definitely moving on to sucessful careers and lives in which their Biblical knowledge and understanding has proven to give them wisdom in all areas of their lives. They include top students at colleges, big and small, lawyers, doctors, parents and upstanding citzens.

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    That’s why I bet with virtual food instead of real money; I’m always at risk of being wrong. All the articles I was looking at seemed to focus predominantly on the memorizing verses for 8 hours a day or whatever. Thanks for adding detail on how this works.

    I suppose career-wise, if what you say is true about the researching and application aspects of it, then that kind of ability would be transferable to other fields beyond bible study. It’s worthwhile to do decent research and know what to look for and have the ability to interpret what’s found.

    I confess to cheating on the blog sometimes on account of time constraints and might not do a topic total justice. Fortunately, comments like your can add to the bits that are missed or point out the flaws in my method. Thanks for posting.

%d bloggers like this: