Theology in Quizzing

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about something pretty close to my heart and at the same time, a very debated issue. The issue is “How does theology relate to Bible Quiz?” I know Startup has recently received a question on this and he may submit his own ideas, but this is my view.
I know that if you do an internet search and look around the country, most of the events you will see are denominationally restricted. This means that only “Assembly of God” churches, for example, can compete in an event. While I certainly believe that there is a time to associate with like-minded people and segregate from others, I don’t think we should all do this. The very definition of evangelism mandates an occasional visit to someone who disagrees. So a good Soul Winning and Separated Church will have both situations. Into which category does Bible quiz fall?

Well, the very nature of Bible Quiz is to ask questions pretty independent of theology. (And for this, I am very thankful). While there is a need for uniformity in translation and all teams need to agree upfront about that, most theological issues are not broached in the quiz themselves. In pre-quiz discussions, on the other hand, all bets are off. Because this is the very nature of quiz itself, I think it is clear that you could have people from completely different theological mindsets in the same event, coexisting peacefully. Now, I know that some tournament heads restrict access to their league and/or invitational, while others do not. But it is clear that it COULD happen. To me, this is where I side with the non-restrictive group. I believe that Bible Quizzing is a perfect opportunity to co-exist. I know Satan always attempts to be divisive; and while there is a time to make a stand, I do not believe quizzing is one of them. Hereafter are my reasons.

First, I believe that as much as it is possible, we are to “live peaceably among all men.” While I am not an expert on peace, as is evidenced by the hate email I receive, I do know that when a common ground can be laid and there is no inherent theological discrepancy, it just makes sense to have a peaceful gathering. I think we sadden God when we create a division where there does not need to be one.

Second, I believe that if we do exclude, it makes us look bad. At first glance, this may sound lame, but if we truly have a theological bent, can we better express it to someone we’ve left on the outside looking in or to someone we have invited to participate with us? I think it is clear that if we have a weaker brother, we can help him by a healthy discussion during an event while talking about the very scriptures we are competing over.

Third, I feel that those that you sometimes want to exclude are those that need the encouragement to memorize Scripture. Let’s face it. In an ideal world, we would all commit Scripture to memory. However, to get a taste of just how hard it is, ask any coach what he is ready to quiz over and he will most likely show you that he has not committed that much to memory. Now, if these people who spend a great amount of time to encourage people to memorize can’t make the time to memorize, how much harder is it for these “fallen” students. When excluding a student, hasn’t the high and holy potentate who excludes students just dubbed someone more “fallen” than himself. If we take away their encouragement to memorize, have we created a more positive or more negative environment for them? And what reaction are we to have to those more “fallen” than ourselves? Are we to look down on them? My conclusion is these are just the people we need to encourage. Each person, regardless of environment, is responsible for his own actions, but I would like to challenge any coach or director who wants to exclude students from participating that he can only exclude those he knows more verses than. If this rule isn’t followed, then the one dubbed “fallen” may actually be on a more responsible track than the one doing the excluding.

Fourth, I feel that this is the environment in which we can evangelize. Someone recently told me, “We don’t just exclude those that we tell can’t come, but also any student whom we have not given an avenue to find out about us has actually been excluded from our activities.” If there is someone out there who is unsaved, what better way to minister than to have them commit the Word of God into their minds before ever accepting Christ. Don’t believe it could happen? Youth for Christ started Bible Quiz in public schools and had some of the great leaders of today saved in such activities. A recent Public School team had two conversions when discussing a Pauline epistles section. The best and brightest young Christians I have seen have all met me through Bible Quiz. This is an advertisement for Christianity in a great environment (this is why some have issues with excessive challenges, as it takes away from the ad).

Fifth, if we take restrictions to their logical conclusion, we could only quiz against those in our own church. Because as much as we hate to admit it, we don’t agree with everyone all the time. (To really go all the way, we’d end up quizzing only ourselves as there are inter-church differences from time to time). I, for one, believe that it is good that we differ. A great speaker I once heard, Dr. Hunter said, “A good friendship requires you to be different enough to necessary.” Further, since none of us are perfect, should we be casting stones? And if your church is perfect, the minute you begin to judge that other group, your perfection has ceased. Regardless of your belief on differences, however, quizzing against one’s self may be fun for some, but I think most would rather have some others against which to compete. Therefore restrictions themselves only make sense if we exclude everyone with whom we disagree and that makes no sense.

These are my overarching thoughts on the subject. While I certainly understand denomination quizzing, and I think it could even have its place, I think it just falls short of the overall Bible Quiz potential. If we can be a witness to a weaker brother and lead someone else to Christ, to me that outweighs any potential inter-denominational camaraderie. So, find or start a local league, series of events, or an invitational where it is open to all and get some others in there. You might just find that you can learn something about yourself or that the added competition makes you better (if anyone has slightly less than altruistic goals).

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