Growing up in a Southern Baptist church, the Bible was at the center of most of what we did. We were Protestants, which meant that we believed in the power of the Bible alone to guide our lives. And, because we were Baptists, we might yell at you if you disagreed. Looking back, I often think we worshipped the Bible more than we worshipped God.
We had one pastor who would regularly challenge us. I don’t mean challenge us like “really make us think.” I mean he would read a passage in the course of his sermon, verse by verse, connect it to other parts of the Bible and then, at some point say, “You don’t believe me? Look it up!” Why would we need to look it up? Why would we disagree with something so plainly presented, so clearly and confidently stated? After all, he was simply telling us what the Bible says. Who could argue?
Having now spent quite a few years playing poker (bad Baptist!), I can say that this is what is known as a “bluff.” He could say whatever he wanted. We would believe the story he was telling and we would fold. We would fold because he was speaking about and from the Bible, the Word of God. Who could argue?
Well, it turns out people argue all the time about the Bible. Christians argue with non-Christians. Protestants argue with Catholics. Baptists argue with Methodists. Lutherans argue with Lutherans. We argue about homosexuality and the role of women in marriage and the church. We argue about war. We argue about the origins of the earth. We argue about poverty. And all of these positions are as confidently presented as my old preacher’s. Everyone is right and dares us to say otherwise.
I’ll admit it: I love to argue about the Bible. However, I’m not sure it’s a very fruitful exercise. It is unusual for people to change their minds, which means that the fight is mostly about the fight.
Fortunately, in seminary they teach us to do a lot of other things with the Bible. It turns out there are a lot of ways to read the Bible. In addition to a variety of ways of interpreting it, there are many different reasons one might bother. Each of those ways might be a means by which God calls out to us and a means by which we might respond.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we begin our six-week series on how to read the Bible.
Grace and Peace,
How to Read the Bible
We will be following the classical understanding of the four senses of Scripture: literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogical. We will look at how each of these was originally understood, how that has changed, and how we might use them today. There will be an introductory week, a week dedicated to each sense, and a “practicum” in the sixth week where we will try this out on a passage in small groups.
September 9 – Introduction
September 16 – Literal
September 23 – Allegorical
September 30 – Moral
October 7 – Anagogical
October 14 – Practicum
We hope you’ll join us.
We will not have Sunday School this Sunday. I hoped we could put something together, but it’s just not going to happen right now. I would like to explain why I think this is important and the challenges we face.
I grew up in Sunday School. I probably did not love it. I remember badly drawn pictures of Jesus holding a sheep or talking to children. Occasionally, we heard about Noah. I also remember being with my friends discussing the Bible and what truths, what guidance it might provide us. It made me consider the world and my relationship to it in a deeper way than I would have if I were at home watching TV. It made me consider that things actually mattered: the way I treat people, what I do with my money, how I experience sorrow and joy. As a kid, I didn’t pay much attention to the sermons. But in Sunday School, I worked through my faith in fear and trembling with a community of friends that endures to this day. I want that for all of us, but especially for our kids. Certainly, deep, enduring friendships can be built outside the church. But there is something special about developing relationships in a context of ultimate concern.
That said, we are a small church. This often presents problems. We think it is feasible to divide the children and youth into three groups, which means that we need six adult volunteers. We want to ensure stability for our kids, so we need people who can commit to being there at 10am every Sunday. There are many more issues to work out, such as safety, so we will keep working on it. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Scott Shirley, Janalee Shadburn-Wiles, or Sara Kitto.
It’s a joy having so many young faces. I hope that we can make learning about their faith a cherished memory for them.