As I look back, I’m not sure how I got here. I started out to become a Church of Christ preacher. I knew what Church of Christ preachers said and how they said it. Even before college I gained a reputation as a preacher, which convinced me even more that I should be one.
Then came collage. It was there, with the influence of men (and women) I began to be more and more interested in What the Bible taught, rather than what I had heard preachers preach.
It had it’s scary moments, especially when I realized there were parts of Bible I never heard taught or preached. Paul’s view of ethics was captivating. All I had heard was that we should never do anything that would cause someone to “stumble.” Which meant when someone complained about some issue with which they disagreed, like eating in the same building where worship took place, you yielded to their demands Where to eat was never an issue in the church I attended in Cincinnati as a child.
I soon learned as a young preacher, that the Bible had regional interpretations. When the folks in Cincinnati decided to go bowling after church, or scheduled a bowling party with any deacons and elders who wanted to go, all bowling alleys in Cincinnati served alcohol. There was usually a cocktail lounge nearby. No big deal. We went. We also played rummy, canasta and other “face card” games. No big deal. However, when I started to preach, I found regional, or should I say, sectional areas where bowling where any alcohol was sold, was off-limits to Christians, as was playing any face-card game. Rook was fine, it didn’t have the Devil’s face on the cards.
Tobacco was not preached against in areas where church members made much of their living from growing it. However, women wearing too much makeup, too much jewelry, and short hair. (Determined by inspiration to mean any hair shorter than the shoulders) was fair game. The hair applied to men as well. By the way, this was not just the CofC preachers who took the Bible to say things like that, lots of others did as well. This would indicate that such an understanding of scripture was not only regional, but cultural as well. What I mean by cultural ( a word not liked by a sizable number of preachers) is that upon examination we discover that the cultural period of history in which we live determines how we interpret scripture. I need not list examples to prove this. The way we used the Bible to support slavery, segregation and women is argument enough.
One verse branded on the brains of Christians, was and is, 1 Thess. 5:22 (KJV) “Abstain from every appearance of evil.”As I remember, most preachers said, “Abstain from the very appearance of evil.”
Again, there is no need for me to explain that verse, except to say it simply says, in modern English, “Stay away from all kinds of evil.” But even that is subject to interpretation. What appears to be evil to one person may not appear evil to another. Please keep in mind that Paul thinks Christians have enough sense to know what he is talking about. We are the ones who have to make the lists. He is not telling Christians to decide what has the appearance of evil and then hold everyone to it. I’ve mentioned before a man who would not drink root beer out of a brown bottle any place where he might be assumed to be drinking real beer. Did he want others to do he same? It was pretty evident that he though they should, for fear of the appearance of evil. Need I even need to mention how many times Jesus failed the “appearance” test.
The above are just some of the issues which have caused me to keep digging to understand the Bible in its own time and place in history. That is not to say that the moral and ethical teachings are limited by time and culture. The fundamental teachings in the Sermon on the Mount in both Matthew and Luke call us to a standard far beyond a general world view.
That being said, I think the Bible should be examined and studied from every angle. We should consider that the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) belonged to the Jews, and was interpreted by them, long before Jesus was born. Therefore, in the last few years I have been looking at how the Jewish teachers understood and understand the Hebrew Bible.
In some ways I think Christians have “Christianized” the “Old Testament”. I’m not talking about hunting down all the possible prophesies about Jesus. I’m talking about making the OT fit a more accepted understanding.
An easy example is when Christians talk about “biblical marriage” in defense of a one woman and one man union. If we want to use Adam and Eve, let’s face it, Adam didn’t have a choice. But Adam’s son Cain has a grandson who “takes” two wives. Abraham ‘s wife Sara is childless, so she tells him to take her Egyptian servant as a “wife”. (Gen. 16:3 NIV) We know how that worked out!
Later, Jacob married two sisters, and we know about the kings of Israel and their concubines and wives. There is no condemnation of polygamy. That’s hardly new news. However, there is a law in Deuteronomy 25:5 which instructs the brother of a deceased man who has no heirs, to marry the dead brother’s wife. No exception is provided if the surviving brother happens to already be married. “Christainizing” the text insists that the Levirate marriage be done only if the surviving brother is not married. In fact, little is said about the marital status of the Levirite. There was even a way to avoid doing it. (See the book of Ruth) But Levirate marriage was a very serious issue. Since polygamy was common, and Jacob had married two sisters, it would not be beyond the surviving brother to have two wives. That being said, the law Levirate marriage soon disappears in Judaism, which should mean even scripture is subject to time and culture. Keeping that in mind can help us find the real meaning of the Bible.
CONCERNS: Jo Wagner’s sister, Judy Powell is home but still not well. Martha Flora, Wayne’s mother is also having health problems. Teryn Gaynor’s mother (cancer) Former members, Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law, David is still being treated for brain cancer. Deanna McRoy. Linda Alsup, Debbie McRoy’s cousin and her husband,Prentice have health issues. Keep the parents of Joni and Alan Beach in prayer, as well as Carrie Bolin, Del’s mother. Also a friend of Leena Bolin who has stress issues. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber. Ray and Darnell Barnes, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder. Remember those who are recovering from the storms .
On this third Sunday we are pleased to have Del Bolin’s brother, Doug, bring the sermon for today.
This is Super Sunday. If you stay for the fellowship meal you will be able to see some of the change we have made in the lighting. The old lights were getting dangerous due to some issue which kept them overheating and burning out. Since they were at the very top of the ceiling they required a longer ladder than we had.
More lighting will be installed, probably on the fans down the middle and along the sides to give more light for reading. Plan to stay and enjoy the room and the meal.
THANKSThanks to those who came out last Saturday to spruce up the place. Also to those who cooked at the Ronald McDonald House last Sunday evening.
We will be sending money to the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, TN to aid in relief for those suffering from the two recent hurricanes which damaged Florida as well as Georgia and the Carolina’s.
This being the third Sunday, we will have two contributions. One for Health Talents ABC and the regular one for the work here.
VISITING AND AWAY
We had visitors from Ohio with us last Sunday, which was good because several of our group was away.