Ten Year Series Answers

As students in Singapore, we are familiar with this thing called the "10-year series" which is really a series of past-year examination papers from the GCE O and A'level. The assumption is that the questions do not vary too much and hence it is possible to practice from these past papers and gain a familiarity of the kind of questions that will come out in our final papers. In a society that focuses much on grades (where a bad result in PSLE condemns you to a hell that even the Devil shutters), the mastery of the 10-years series means a difference between a fail (which is B) and a pass (which is A+++, in order to get distinction, one must obtain 200% of the score as a sign of one's godlikeness in the GCE).

I am of course exaggerating here. But this is to spring off to another issue that I am concerned about. For many years in my walk in the church, I have heard the same 10-year series label being applied to Christian answers to difficult situations. This refers to standard answers given to situations that people encounter. To give another illustration, this is akin to giving a standard hamburger to everyone who wants a burger. But not everyone just wants a hamburger. They may need a hamburger, but they don't like it to be a standard one. Some want to have sesame buns, some want nacho cheese in their patties, some want triple patties and some want wagyu beef in their patties.

My illustration here also serves to make a point. Most of the time, the so-called 10-year series answers are what the people need but because people think that their situations are unique to them, they reject the 10-year series answers and require answers more customised to them. Yet, no matter how I customised it, a hamburger remains a hamburger, whether I add nacho cheese or use waygu beef. At the end of the day, you are satisfied with receiving a customised hamburger but it is still fundamentally a hamburger.

I am not advocating for 10-years series answers here but I think a lot of the accusations towards such answers are often a knee-jerk reactions. Because many think that they are facing situations unique in the history of the entire universe, most cannot accept that standard theological answers help to address their issues. Agree that standard answers may not be directly applicable in individual situations but by rejecting "standard answers," one may find himself contradicting with the very faith he is believing in and he has to come face to face with his own consistencies. Even if an inept person shares a "standard answer," the listener can still adapt the answer to his own situation. The key, I feel then, is not a rejection of "10-years series" but really for the sharers and listeners to understand the ramifications of standard biblical truths. This we do not do very often and even when we do, we do it superficially.

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