Below we have included some useful guidelines to facilitate a smooth Scriptural Reasoning discussion.
1. Stick to the texts Scriptural Reasoning is much more fruitful if the discussion remains focused on the texts in front of you – rather than becoming a general discussion on religion. You can draw from sources other than the passage in front of you, but you should always be able to connect what you say to the texts.
2. Use the original languages to expand conversation, not close it down No English translation is perfect and most people in the group will not be familiar with all the original languages. Thus, while the original language of a text may provide added nuance to an interpretation, the discussion should be based primarily on the English translation. Don't use the original languages to shut down discussion.
3. Feel invited to explore others’ texts And also invite others to explore your texts. This can be challenging at first but Scriptural Reasoning is all about hospitality – inviting others to cross boundaries and get to know you and your scriptures better. It is about open discussion rather than trying to reach an authoritative interpretation of the scripture.
4. Listen carefully and charitably to others’ comments and give space to them In Scriptural Reasoning, you should allow for others’ readings to be expressed and explored even if you have very clear ideas about how a particular text should be understood.
5. Be honest You are not expected to be an ‘expert’ on your own scripture and faith tradition, so be honest about the things you don’t know or understand. You may not agree with other people’s interpretations and it is okay to say so – respectfully.
6. Avoid generalisations Nobody represents their faith tradition so avoid making statements such as “Christians/Muslims/Jews believe…”. It would be better to say (for example), “as a Christian/Muslim/Jew, I think this text means…”
7. Be present Your full participation is crucial to Scriptural Reasoning. This means having a mindful presence- reading, reflecting, listening and discussing. Refrain from any activity that may hinder this such as using mobile phones- even to look something up which is related to the text, or physically leaving the group in the middle of a discussion.
8. Be respectful when handling the texts Remember that the different traditions have different views on how the scriptures should be treated and some faiths consider their scriptures to be sacred. This means that care should be taken when handling them; for example, don’t place them on the floor or put drinks on them. If you’re in doubt about how to treat or dispose of the texts, speak to a fellow group member.