It is no secret that your method of interpretation determines how you understand the Bible. OK, it’s called “hermeneutics. But I don’t need a big word to prove the above statement, just listen to preachers and read the letters to the editor in the local paper.

In the most recent case it came in the form of a bulletin article. It was a guest article. I enjoy most of what the local preacher writes. It had to do with “faith”, and of course, it was about Abraham.

The writer’s first premise, though unstated, (that’s where the sneaky hermeneutic slips in) was that no person of faith good enough to have the story of their faith appear in the Bible could ever have moments of faithlessness. So it became vital that he clean-up Abraham and remove all the warts before he painted his picture.

Obviously his main problem had to do with Abraham’s lie (twice) about Sara being his sister and not his wife. About that he says, “Did he (Abraham) act out of faith, or out of fear? While we may not always agree with the decisions Abraham made, and can often point to negative consequences of those decisions, none of that has any bearing whatsoever on the nature of his faith.” REALLY? Can you think how many politicians would like to adopt that explanation for their past!? The writer goes on to say the reason for the article is to show the “true nature of saving faith”.

About the Sara thing, he says that “Abraham had to make reasonable decisions designed to safeguard himself and his family and thus preserve his family line—something he knew must happen if God’s promises were to be fulfilled.” He feels faith needs help, regardless what kind. So Abraham’s lies and impregnation of Hagar were not moments where his faith failed, but where faith needed a boost. I suppose that’s what Abraham told Hagar.

Another way the writer keeps all of this in the “true nature of saving grace” is to point to the fact that God got after both Pharaoh and Abimelech (the guys he lied to) but did not chastise Abraham. I’m not sure, but it seems like he is saying if you know the “true nature of saving grace” you can say the end justifies the means.

He says, “Abraham knew the promises of God, believed them, and did what he could to see them fulfilled. In every circumstance he acted as one who possessed saving faith.”

Most things written start with a conclusion or a goal, and then the needed gaps are filled in. This writer had a thought about “saving faith” and decided to expand on it. Of course, Abraham, being the man of faith he was, is the focus. Now all that is needed is to make Abraham fit his conclusion of what that faith is.

For extra proof that faith means doing whatever it takes, he uses James 2:26 and says it means “No works equals a dead faith.” Therefore, all the “works” Abraham did (the lies and Hagar) were actually saving faith.

The final cap he put on it came from the book of Hebrews. He quotes from chapter 11 and then highlighted the phrases, “Without weakening” “did not waver,” and “fully persuaded.” According to the writer, these prove Abraham had no doubts or fears. So when he lied to save his skin and put Sara at risk of rape (twice) and then became impatient when Isaac didn’t arrive when expected and used Hagar to start the Arab nation, it was by “saving faith.” Ouch!

The problem is how he understands the Bible. There is no room in his understanding for the cultural devaluation of women over men, both in the lies Abraham told, as well as the use of Hagar, a servant. There is no room for the writer of Hebrews (whoever it is) to paint Abraham without his flaws to make his readers think seriously about the faith and endurance they needed. He misses the real beauty of faith, and that is that it is always filled with doubt and fear. That’s what makes it faith and not “sight.”

One might want to ask about the meaning of Paul’s “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Phil. 2:12. Or Jesus’ begging that the cup of the cross be taken away.

Demanding that faith be without times of faithlessness and doubt and fear only makes faith, which is hard enough, harder.
Keith kswrev@aol.com

CONCERNS: Susan Phlegar was jerked by their dog and suffered back problems. She will have to have a few more treatments before she can be out and about. Jim Hunter is having some problems related to an accident he was involved in and is under the care of a doctor. Erma Williams’ father has not yet shaken all the staph related problems in his knee. A friend of Garrett Lee Williams and Brice Reid is still being treated for an accident which damaged an eye. The therapist at Del Bolin’s office who suffered a rare eye infection has lost some of her sigh and will need eye injections the rest of her life. Those who continue to be on the prayer list are: Donna Brutto, Eleanor Crush, Helen Nicklas, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Tim Elder, Health Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World.

OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 6-11
Monday: Exodus 14:10-31
Tuesday: Isaiah 2:1-14
Wednesday: Romans 14:1-9
Thursday: John 5:1-18
Friday: Genesis 4:1-18
Saturday: Psalm 146:1-10

OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 13-18
Monday: Psalm 62:1-12
Tuesday: Luke 20:9-16
Wednesday: Matthew 15:1-20
Thursday: Micah 6:1-8
Friday: John 16:16-33
Saturday: Psalm 99, 100

STEERING COMMITTEE NOMINATIONS
For the past few weeks we have been asking for nominations for steering committee members. Today, February 5, will close out the nomination process. Please write down the names of those you wish to nominate and give it to one of the present steering committee. Those nominated will be asked by the committee if they wish to serve for a three year period. If they agree the congregation will select those nominated by a vote. Those nominated must receive a 75% vote of confidence in order to serve.

WINTERFEST
In just a few weeks several of our young people will once again be traveling to Gatlinburg, TN for Winterfest. Keep them in you prayers as they plan the trip.

RONALDMCDONALD HOUSE
Some of our young people have decided they would like to cook one evening for those who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Roanoke Memorial Hospital. It will be on a Wednesday in March. After doing so theywill decide when and if to do it again. It is a big project for our small group. At least thirty-five meals must be prepared. There will be some adults helping out as well. Thanks to all the young people who decided to help with this worthy project.

MAILING LIST UPGRADE
At the end of each year we remind people that the bulletin can be received via e-mail. We will be dropping a few names from our list of folks we haven’t heard from for awhile. Remember, you can always subscribe to the bulletin by going to the Church website. It is roanokechurchofchrist.com. When you get there go to “The Minister”, click on that and a subscription form will be displayed.

THE NEW APPLIANCES
The new range has been installed and microwave/convection oven will be mounted above the range by Super Sunday. We are also in contact with a member of the Church of Christ in North Carolina who is in the sound business and will sell us what we need to upgrade our sound system at his cost.