Week 4

With another lively discussion last night in our "Making Sense of the Bible" class, we are nearing the end of our 6 weeks.  Our focus last night was on Creation, the Bible and Science.  With world renown scientists in the room who agreed with Adam's statement about the earth being 4.5 billion years old, we, by and large, all embraced the idea of "Science and Faith" rather than "Science OR Faith,"  and saw that Science tells us the how and the Bible the "why" and the importance of not confusing these.

We talked about Adam and Eve - representatives or literal.  Obviously no one knows for sure, and they could be either, but clearly there was a "beginning" time when people first began to have a soul, an awareness of God.

Were there dinosaurs on the ark?  No, they were extinct before humans came along, and the story of the flood is a fairly common, perhaps universal to the countries in the Mid-East, around the Black Sea, and perhaps refer back to the melting of the ice age.

Conclusion:  Grateful that Trinity doesn't pose an unnecessary barrier to faith by countering the Bible with Science, but embraces both with faith and joy.

We are jumping ahead slightly so that we can give more time to the topic of human sexuality, the topic that is threatening the unity of the church.  So this coming week we will spend some time on chapters 25 (Did Jesus Really Say That) and 26 (No one comes to the Father except through me), 27 (Women need not apply and 28 (Is it ok to get a tattoo?) hopefully leaving some time to begin the topic: Homosexuality and the Bible.

See you soon, Dan

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Week 2

We had another interesting and lively discussion last night at our "Making Sense of the Bible" class.  81 of us began by watching Adam Hamilton's 10 minute video that introduced our second installment, which was on the New Testament.  We did a quick overview of the NT, noting the outline: 4 Gospels (kerygma), a brief history (Acts), the Letters, mainly written by Paul and others, and the last letter:  Revelation.

We discussed that the first three Gospels are very similar, sharing stories about Jesus, what he taught and did.  Their similarity has led to them being called "The Synoptic Gospels."  John's Gospel is quite different; he was probably aware of the other three and wrote a "spiritual" Gospel, or a "theological" Gospel, conveying with pictures (signs) WHO Jesus is, more than WHAT Jesus did.

Paul, formerly known as Saul, a devout Jew who believed with many other of the religious leaders, that this new phenomenon of followers of Jesus (they didn't have a name early on, and weren't called Christians until later) was hugely disruptive and problematic, and so he began persecuting these "followers of The Way."  On his way to Damascus, he was struck by the Light of God, heard the voice of Jesus and was soundly converted and became a devoted follower.

He began and nurtured lots of Churches in what is now known as Turkey, as he became known as the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Before long, he began a correspondence with these congregations, and several of these key letters became the heart of the New Testament.  Paul probably wrote most of the letters attributed to him, and may have dictated others, and a few may have been written by someone else "in the spirit of Paul," which was a fairly common practice in those days.

Paul's letters - probably Galatians or I Thessalonians - were written first, all prior to 65 AD, as that is the year he was killed in Rome.  The Gospels, in their current written form, came about between 65 - 90 AD.

Adam makes the point that these letters were written to people of the first century, to address specific needs in those congregations, and that some of the ideas are "time specific" (e.g. Paul's blast against the practice of circumcision) and others are "timeless" and apply to us directly in the 21st. Century.  It is the art of determining which is which that gives rise to differences among us today; the field of study that focuses on "what it meant" and "what it means" is known as "interpretation" or "hermeneutics."  

Next week we look at the topic:  The Nature of Scripture, Inspiration, Inerrancy and Infallibility.

Love and prayers, Dan

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Week 1

Kay Rickets was my 5th grade Sunday School teacher, and she is the one that launched my life long love affair with the Bible.  She arranged these contests of memorizing passages in the Bible, and, for some reason, I took to it like a fish to water.  Later I attended a Christian College, with Philosophy and the Bible as my major field, then to seminary with a focus on the Old Testament, on to Germany and the University of Tubingen, and finally a Ph.D. at Princeton in - guess what: Biblical Studies, with my dissertation on Isaiah 24 - 27.

For the past 40+ years of ministry, I have tried to be shaped by the message of the Bible and to share its message with the congregations I've been privileged to serve.  My consistent goal has been to gain a greater understanding of the Scriptures, to live authentically, formed by its message, and be guided by its wisdom.  It has been a wonderful and wonder filled journey.
So, I bring all of that to our upcoming discussion series, based primarily (I'll reference other books as well) on my friend, Adam Hamilton's latest book:  Making Sense of the Bible. I hope you can join me, but if you can't, I hope you will join me in following this blog and sharing your thoughts, insights, questions and doubts; any and all.  
I'll be posting ideas before the Wed night sessions, and then afterwards, a summary of the night's discussion.  I hope you can join us.
Blessings, Dan
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