Lifestyles

Professor engages students with Scripture

KENZIE MEEKER /TheThreefoldAdvocate  Jay Bruce (right) and  students learning about Scripture.
KENZIE MEEKER /TheThreefoldAdvocate
Jay Bruce (right) and students learning about Scripture.

Walking into Walker 224, the desks are arranged in a circle waiting for people to fill them. Jay Bruce, associate professor of philosophy, sits at the head of the circle, like King Arthur sitting at the head of the round table. Every Thursday at 5pm this semester, Bruce hosts a Bible study. The Bible study is open to all students who would like to join and partake in conversations about the different passages.

Before the Bible study started, Bruce passed out handouts that helped break down the verses and sections that we would be going over, and they had some of his explanations in them too. Once the clock struck five, we started. We went around the circle and introduced ourselves so we would get to know the people who decided to participate.

“The printed handouts are decent. Every now and again Bruce has a real nugget of wisdom,” said Noah Franz, junior graphic design major.

“Dr. Bruce does a great job of diving into denser texts, and pulling out some key points (well-illustrated by his outlines) to cover and discuss. He tries hard to base all of his points on scripture alone, and he isn’t afraid to admit when he doesn’t know something,” said junior biochemistry major Kip Peirce.

The reason that Bruce started the Bible study was because he has more to offer students than just philosophy that is taught in the classroom, and because his pastor at Redeemer showed Bruce that we should prioritize student engagement with the Scriptures.

At the Bible study they are currently studying the book of Deuteronomy and looking at how those who love God obey his commandments.

“I’ve taken the ten commandments, given in Deuteronomy 5, as a guide to the entire book. So each week we consider one of the ten commandments by looking at commands relating to it. So, for example, we recently considered the Sabbath in the context of commands related to tithing, being generous to the poor and worshipping the Lord with his people. It’s fun, and half the campus should come out next week,” said Bruce.

Bruce would like to do another Bible study next semester. “I’m open to suggestions about what book to consider next, and also about what time to have the Bible study. I am wondering whether a Bible study even later than 5 pm—when we now meet—would allow more people to come. Students can always email me at jbruce@jbu.edu, to offer advice, suggestions, criticism, etc.,” Bruce stated.

Pierce said that he would recommend others to Bruce’s Bible study because it is always extremely welcoming to new students, it’s not too much of a time commitment, he doesn’t force a certain theological perspective on the class (although he isn’t afraid to share his own convictions) and he has really good things to say.

The only downside that Pierce and Franz agree on is the time. Since it is at five, you have to put off dinner for a little bit.

“I’d recommend it to anyone who doesn’t care about putting off a caf meal 45 minutes,” said Franz.

“If the Bible study weren’t scheduled right at the beginning of dinner, I’d be recommending it to everyone,” said Pierce.

“I want our students to stay close to the Lord Jesus—or, if they do not know him, to fall in love with him. He does not disappoint; he is altogether good. And how do you fall in love with him, or deeper in love with him? You study the Bible. And I’m not unqualified to teach the Bible; I did study theology before philosophy, and I am licensed to preach,” said Bruce.