How to Read the Bible: Introduction (Program and Sermon)

Program

Sermon Outline (loosely followed)

I.                               Questions

a.       How do you view the Bible?

b.      How do you use Bible?

c.       Do know the Bible?

d.      Do you want to know the Bible?

II.                            Classical understanding

a.       Literal

b.      Allegorical

c.       Moral

d.      Anagogical

III.                         Post-modern twist

IV.                          Why read it?  Why does it matter?

a.       Cultural defense

1.      Literary tradition

a)      Universal stories

b)      Authors steeped in tradition

2.      American culture

3.      Used against us

b.      Sacred trust

1.      Tradition: the dead get a vote

2.      Collection of human experience

3.      Wrestles with issues of ultimate concern

4.      Means by which God calls to us

Scripture is one of the primary means by which God calls to us.  If we listen to that call instead of sin and fear and desire, we become more holy, take one more step on the path to the Divine.  Because Scripture is

5.      Not so much informative as transformative

You can read Scripture to learn something.  You can read it to argue with people, to defend your beliefs.  Blah, blah, blah.  Noisy gong.  Clanging cymbal.  But if you read it and aren’t transformed into the person God would have you be, you are missing the point.  Reading to be transformed means reading critically, reading actively, letting the word of God speak to our deepest selves, the Divine within.  Read that way, Scripture can give us strength, encouragement, comfort, correction.  We can block out sin and ego and fear.  As someone pretending to be Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 3:17, in reading Scripture we become the person that God would have us be, equipped for every good work.  If we believe, as I think many people in this church do, that being a Christian means bringing into being God’s dreams for the world, Pseudo-Paul says we better be reading Scripture.  Not just to learn, but to become the kinds of people who do God’s work, the kinds of people who are faithful, loving, and hopeful.

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