How to Read the Bible: The Moral (Program and Sermon)

Program

Sermon Outline

I.        Ancient

a.       Do good, get good

b.      Do good, suffer, get good later

II.     Classical

a.       Bible as guidebook

b.      Problems with literal truth

1.      Transmission

2.      Translation

3.      Interpretation

4.      Application

c.       Problems with allegorical truth

1.      Interpretation

2.      Application

d.      Both create problems with moral truth

III.   Modern

a.       The Bible speaks authoritatively on everything about which it speaks

b.      The Bible speaks authoritatively on everything

IV.  Questions

a.       Does the Bible guide you?

b.      If so, how?  If not, why not?

V.     Post-modern

a.       Ethical interpretation

Everyone comes to Scripture with existing ethical commitments and Scripture is interpreted in terms of those commitments.  For example, the Bible never speaks of abortion, but verses like Psalm 139:13-15 and Jeremiah 1:4-5 are regularly used to support a pro-life position.  These are interpretive moves.  Post-modern commentators simply acknowledge their moral commitments that guide their interpretation.  For example, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is frequently thought to be homosexuality, but their faults are never really explained.  A queer commentator comes to the text with an ethical commitment that would lead to an alternative explanation.

b.      Not-so-post-modern

“Thus Augustine, for example, teaches that any interpretation of scripture that does not promote the love of God and neighbor cannot be a correct meaning of scripture even if it is thought to coincide with the intentions of the human author.” – Dale Martin

VI.  Morality of the meal

Jesus frequently dined with all kinds of sinners, including the much-maligned Pharisees.  There’s something about sharing a meal with someone, regardless of difference, that dissipates anger, fear, and malice.  Hand to hand and face to face, we break down the boundaries that divide us against one another, the barriers that hide the image of God.

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