Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Responding To Scripture

January 3, 2017

There was a man. He attended church regularly. One of those people of whom it is said, “If the doors are open, he’s there.”

No, he wasn’t a pastor. But he had been to graduate school studying his Scriptures. He really knew a lot. He’d memorized almost the entire thing.

Argumentative? Oh, yes, don’t try to argue with him. He could point out how wrong you were six different ways. And, wow, did he love to argue.

The Scriptures were, to him, a big list of rules with some stories interspersed. Those rules set apart those who follow them from those who don’t. And following the rules got you gold stars on your report card from God.

The way he dressed set him apart from the common people. The way he prayed in church was designed to impress others.And he did–impress them, that is. Trouble is that not everyone was impressed with him favorably. Yes, you can leave negative impressions on people.

Then one day he met a man. Totally changed his life. Suddenly he viewed Scriptures in an entirely new way. He now searched the Scriptures for hints on how God makes you right with him, not how you make yourself right with God. He discovered what the Scriptures said about the man he met.

Yes, that man was Paul, the apostle. But it has also been many other people–both women and men. Young and old.

He met Jesus. That meeting changed his life.

I’m studying deeper into Paul’s letter to the Roman church–known as the book of Romans. Many people feel intimidated by the letter. They’ve been told that scholars have written huge volumes of commentary about it. And they have. But Martin Luther read it, and it not only changed his life but it also changed the course of history. He founded the Lutheran reformed movement. John Wesley read it. It changed his life. He took the gospel out of the churches and into the streets and mines and other disreputable starting the Wesleyan or Methodist movement.

The book is not inaccessible. It shows the path of spiritual formation. Every time I read it, I am changed just a little more.

I’m teaching on the book again. If you are in the Sidney, Ohio area and open on Sunday mornings at 10:15 am, stop by Sidney First United Methodist. And if you are not in the habit of attending a church or if you are wary of being identified as a Methodist, well I have a solution. Our classroom is the first door on the left when entering the building from the North Street parking lot. You can park by The Alcove and walk in and walk out and no one will notice 😉

Study From The Source

March 31, 2016

The podcast host was interviewing a professor at a smaller Christian university.

“The kids today are entering university with very little knowledge of the Bible. They don’t get information by reading, and they don’t read the Bible.”

“So what do you do?”

“We have a mandatory class on the Old Testament and New Testament.”

That comment encapsulates why I don’t think that a BA or even BS degree these days is worth much more than a high school diploma from years ago.

I went to the university having read many philosophers (I know, you’re shocked). We had a mandatory one-year long class “Philosophy and Religion.” Yes, it was a Christian school.

That year we read about philosophers, religion, Christianity, the Old Testament, the New Testament. Even at 19 years old I inherently knew that the class was just superficial — get your A and get out.

Even in graduate school we read more about thinkers than reading the thinkers themselves.

We’d have  been better served with a reading list. Read these works by Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Hegel; then read this list of books of the Bible. Come to class prepared to discuss the key points the writers were arguing.

Our students are coming to university Biblically illiterate? Have them start reading–the Bible. I know that’s revolutionary thinking.

Instead of a survey course that gives overviews of the books of the Bible, read the Bible.

Then after they’ve read the Bible for a basic foundation, then they can be introduced to interpreters. I prefer reading the early church Fathers up to and including Augustine. I am not enamored of the later theologies–Reformed in its various guises, what we call “fundamentlism” or some flavors of the evangelical world, the interesting stories people make up riffing from Daniel and Revelation. But at some point they need to read those thinkers.

Instill one of the most important disciplines early in life of these students–reading from the Bible every day.

By the way–what were the churches these kids attended before going to a Christian university doing, anyway? Maybe it would be a good service for some of you to lead youth in actually reading the Bible!

Reading The Bible From Different Perspectives

May 4, 2015

We were walking along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. So many events had happened over the past few days, that we just couldn’t get our heads around them. What did they all mean?

Was Jesus really the Messiah? It certainly didn’t appear so. He didn’t fulfill any of the Scriptures that we had been taught about the Messiah. Yet, after he was cruelly beaten by Pilate, he was killed by crucifixion. Stranger still, his tomb was mysteriously empty.

We talked and talked, but we just could not figure it out.

Then a stranger joined us. He asked what we were discussing as we travelled. We asked where in the heck had he been the past few days. Hidden under a stone?

Then the stranger, obviously a man of great learning, explained to us the very scriptures we were trying to understand. It was so obvious when he explained them. When we stopped for the evening, we shared a meal. When he broke the bread and offered a blessing, then we recognized him.

Often when I read the stories in the Bible, I like to read as if I were there. Just like reading a good novel. You become part of the action. I invite those in my classes to do the same.

There is a man I read fived days a week, Jon Swanson at 300 Words a Day, who has a doctorate in communications. I didn’t even know you could get a doctorate in that. Even more, he can actually communicate!

He likes to share the Bible as story. His new video series on YouTube, The Bible for my Friends, is worth watching.  He is working on 52 ways to read the Blble. Some of these are sure to resonate. And maybe even lead to a deeper understanding of God.

Let go. Read with imagination instead of intellect or emotion for a refreshing change.