HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN
I need to find zippier titles for my articles. If I saw this one I’d probably not read it. BORING! But boring is all I have, so here it is.
First of all, no one comes to the Bible, or any other study without prejudice. Even if they’d never read it, or heard of it
The Bible is book of history and ethics, among other things, such as the concept of God, or for clarity, a divine being. As far as we know there has never been an exclusively atheistic culture. Atheists? Yes. But not a culture where every member was an atheist. If I’m wrong, please inform me.
As the apostle Paul says in Romans 22:14, which is one of the most significant passages in scripture, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Italics and bold mine. kw)
Simply put, Paul says what every anthropologist says: All human groups have rules of conduct which are, at the center, the same. They are not religious, but a part of human nature, important for survival and constructive living.
Accepting Paul as being true, no matter what background a person originates, they come with ideas about what is right and wrong, regardless their belief in God, gods, nature, animals or whatever. The core ethic of the group is accepted and if that core “law” is broken, judgement occurs by the group.
On the other hand, nothing is that simple. Are there different interpretations of the laws? Yes, and that can be seen in the Jewish law found in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. The Ten Commandments are the foundation, the rest is commentary. Therefore, the Jew understands God through the law of Moses. However, the application of that law varied among Jews both ancient and modern, i.e. reformed and orthodox.
What about Christians? They all read, generally, from the same Bible. However, do the Amish, Quakers, Mennonites and others with pacifistic views of God, respond the same way the “second amendment” Christians do toward the same Bible? Obviously not.
Why not? Because each of them has brought the influence of family, teaching and experience to the Bible. Therefore, the Bible is understood through the lens of those things.
Everyone does it. Is it set in stone? No. But moving away from deep-seated ideas is difficult. We might look at the violence toward Paul and the others who welcomed the Gentiles into equality with God. It was the Jews (who had the same law and the prophets) who wanted to stop and even kill Paul for such an understanding of God. The violence of the Reformation Period is a more modern example.
The Bible is often linked to nationalism. When that happens the Bible is understood to support a certain government, and all other governments are ungodly. Of course, scripture is used to support it, as it is in other similar situations.
Here’s a question: How many times did an Old testament teacher or prophet quote the law of Moses to prove a point? There may be more, but Malachi 4:4 is about it. What did they use to guide Israel? In every Prophetic letter they use the core value of loving God and the neighbor as oneself. The whole standard of righteousness was (and is) based on that single principle. When that principle was lost, the nation of Israel was condemned. That’s why over and over again the prophets said all the religious rituals and sacrifices meant nothing without the core righteousness.
So it is today. The core hasn’t changed. In fact it’s in the “nature” of humankind. Did the Jews, with all the prophets and experiences get it right? Once in awhile, maybe. But mostly they were getting it wrong. But, over and over we can read of the “remnant.” Others, not even Jews, who held the core enough to have the acknowledgment of God. In Amos 9:7 Amos has God saying, “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor (Crete) and the Arameans from Kir?” Something in them caused God to rescue them.
In I Kings 19:18 Elijah is told of 7,000 Israelites who have not bowed to Baal. What does it mean? It means that no matter what book or Bible we read, we get it wrong when the core meaning of love of God and our fellow humans is not how we understand the world. Which means a lot of us are getting it wrong. But our faith and hope is that the “remnant” is getting it right, and that as always, they hold the world together when the rest of us don’t, for God’s sake.
THOSE TO SERVE IN JANUARY
Announcements: Connie Crites
Serve Communion: James Downing
Usher: Mark McRoy
Communion Care: Blessings
6-Karen Branch Martha Foy
13-Scott Blessing Mark McRoy
20-Del Bolin Martha Albert
27-Alan Beach Holly Wagner
6-Mike Branch Susan Phlegar
13-Wayne Flora Susan Jordan
20-Abraham Sirgy Holly Wagner
27-Scott Blessing Alisa Flora
If you cannot serve, call Erma Williams
5-Alan Beach 8-Anna Ferrell
17-Jim Smith Abraham Sirgy
22-Logan McRoy 28-Keith Wagner
CONCERNS: Debbie McRoy injured her back and has been unable to get out. She may need surgery. Other’s in Debbie’s family who have health issues are a cousin, Linda Alsup, and her husband, Prentice. Jo Wagner’s cousin, Herald Clark has lung cancer. He is in North Carolina. Her sister, Judy Powell, is stable at this time. Remember Alan Beach’s father and the rest of the family in the death of Alan’s mother. Also Joni Beach’s dad and Del Bolin’s
mother. Teryn Gaynor’s parents are dealing with health problems. Her mother is again being treated for cancer. Dante McCadden is suffering from CF. Bill Albert is recovering from a back injury. Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law is being treated for brain cancer. Others are Wayne Phlegar, Jim and Mary Smith, Jim Hunter, Sheila Jansen and Daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjory Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Ray and Darnell Barns, Gil Richardson (ALS) and Tim Elder
We were saddened to learn of the death of Alan Beach’s mother, Margaret , died on December 23, in Travelers Rest, SC.
The family asked that memorials in her honor be made to The Churches of Christ Relief Fund. Such a donation was sent.
The work in the annex has been mentioned a lot lately because it is becoming such a nice change. The fans are operational now and will provide the needed air circulation when the building is crowded during hot weather. Thanks to Mike Branch for leading the way in this work.
Due to colds and other illness, along with the holidays, we have canceled the Wednesday evening service lately. Things
are looking better now and we hope to see you this coming Wednesday for the continued study of the Gospel of John.
HEALTH TALENTS INT.
The annual report from Health Talents International is on the foyer table. Take a look at it before it is placed on the downstairs bulletin board.
Thanks to Susan Jordan for arraigning the service last Sunday which contained the history behind some of the hymns we sing. Also to those who read and to Scott Blessing for leading the songs.
The family we helped with Christmas sends their thanks. The mother will put some pictures on FaceBook and they will be shared with the congregation.