One of the characteristics of some Christians is to find a passage of scripture, or actually, to hear someone else use, or misuse a passage of scripture, and then give it a meaning never intended. For example, in Psalm 90:10 it says, “The length of our days is seventy years, or eighty, if we have strength.” If you do a web search for Ps. 90:10 you will find person after person who takes that literally, and works all kinds of magic to make it so. Doing this shows the difficulty we have with the language of the Bible. Of course, when we read Song of Solomon, (Song of Songs) we jump to say all that erotic language is metaphorical. I particularly like the one that says it’s all about the church.
I was thinking about the Proverb (22:6) which says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I thought about how people often seem to believe that it says if you teach your children in the right way, no matter if they turn from it, they will always return to the way of their early training.
Again, if you do a web search, or any search, you will find a multitude of comments about how that has to be literally true. At least one had the wisdom to say the statement had to be understood in its literary context, which is correct. However, reading a sample of the comments point to some divine instruction which, when done properly, secures the child for life. The problem is how to do it right, and there are many answers for that as well.
It is curious to me that the proverb never says. “Teach the child the commandments of God, and when he is old he will keep them.” Which may mean, as many feel, that these proverbs were a collection of “wisdom sayings” collected from several cultures. So the statement would be a general statement based on observation, rather than scientific “nurture/nature research.
Few people would argue that early childhood training and environment has no effect on how the child will turn out. However, using this text as a literal, absolute truth, presents problems. In what should the child be trained? Since we’re reading the Old Testament the natural answer would be in the Law. But it doesn’t say that. Who is to be responsible for the training? Again, since it is the time of patriarchal leadership, one would assume the father. One other question might be asked: Is there punishment if the trainer gets it wrong? None is mentioned.
So let’s see if this proverb is general, observational wisdom, i.e. truth, or is it a literal truth that when done as God commands, will always work.
Well, there’s Cain, who murdered his brother. Bad training? Then a whole string of bad guys cause the flood. I guess you could say almost everybody lost in that deal.
Abraham comes along and his two sons don’t get along. Let’s blame Sara, she’s the one who invited her husband to father a first born with her slave.
Then there’s the dysfunctional family of Isaac and Rebekah. Rebekah helps the younger son, Jacob, to dupe poor old dad into giving the blessing to him instead of the older son, Esau. Well, it all works out and they are both blessed with much land and stuff.
Jacob has twelve sons, and they decide to kill little brother Joseph, but sell him into Egypt instead. Who failed there?
Then Moses comes along and leads the Israelites out of Egypt, which seems to require that he leave his wife and sons, and marry an Ethiopian woman.
In the irony of all this, the first king of Israel, Saul, is seen as a really bad guy. But his son, Jonathan is probably the first best kid in the Bible.
The heartthrob of the kings is David. His son, Amnon, rapes his only (recorded) daughter, Tamar. Another son, and Tamar’s blood brother, Absalom, has Amnon killed. Who failed there?
We could talk about the sons of Eli, Samuel’s mentor, or even Samuel’s sons. Each of them had wicked sons. Whom do we blame? They never returned to the way they had been taught, if taught at all.
These little proverbial sayings all express a general, often, philosophical truth, but not a literal, absolute truth. The problem comes when we read the Bible as if every statement is an absolute truth, and then demand everyone else read it the same way, or be called a heretic.
Of course, the reader has to (or should) decide from several positions if the words are literal or otherwise. Even most people who say they take the Bible literally, don’t. They may say the earth was created in literally six days and that the Eden story is literal, but when it comes to the book of Revelation, they change. Maybe.
Looking at some of the major prophetic books, where the vision of the Messianic kingdom is described, predatory animals exist together in peace. The child will not be bitten by snakes. In Ezekiel 47, a river will flow from the temple, one way to the Mediterranean and the other to the Dead Sea, where it will make the waters fresh. It’s exact length and depth along the way is given. Do some believe this is literal? Yes, but most of those who see the Eden story as literal, take this to be symbolic.
There are other passages like this as well. When Jesus uses apocalyptic language in Matthew 24:29, which is from Isaiah, and concerned Babylon, it and other such expressions, like the trumpet sounding and every eye seeing him, are taken literally.
What does it matter? Not much if it expresses a personal faith. But when it becomes a doctrine, an authoritative teaching which everyone must agree on to be a true Bible believer, it becomes a serious problem. A problem, which historically, caused heads to roll
Perhaps the real issue is that such things as these in the Bible must be tested first by the Bible, and that requires more examination than just passing on what someone else claims the Bible says.
CONCERNS: Anna Ferrell has some friends who have asked for our prayers. They are the Harry Tuck family. The son, Greg (44) had a heart aneurism that burst while his father was having surgery for another issue. Greg is in recovery. The mother, Mary Ann is weighed down with the trauma of all this. Both Jim Smith and Bud McWhorter are doing well. Betty Billings, (Keith’s sister) is in rehab in Alabama. Nathan Beach is still on the mend and plans to be in the states soon for a visit. Continue to remember Erma Williams’ cousin, Eleanor Bresee, Leena Bolin’s mother, Helen Nicklas and Leena’s aunt, Lee Nicklas who has leukemia. Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, Jennie Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary and Jim Smith, Marie Barnett and family, Mrs Matara and Todd Baumgardner, who is awaiting a kidney transplant.
OUR DAILY BREAD: NOV. 17-22
Monday: Isaiah 53:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 28:1-30
Wednesday: Ezekiel 34:1-16
Thursday: Acts 21:37-22:16
Friday: Psalm 14:1-7
Saturday: Revelation 20:11-21:9
OUR DAILY BREAD: NOV. 24-29
Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-22
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20
THE CHRISTMAS PARTY
The Christmas Party this year will be on Saturday, December 6. It seems early to mention it, but that’s just three weeks away.
A sign-up sheet will be on the foyer table next Sunday. More information and details about recipes etc., will be forthcoming. Remember, a $5 gift for the gift exchange. We have been concentrating on local products for gifts if possible.
We will also be looking for some form of entertainment, so if you can help, please let it be known.
We also want to thank Del Bolin for being our MC for the last two years. Some scheduling and timing issues have prevented him from doing it this year.
A NEW ADULT CLASS
The Sunday morning adult class will start a new study of the New Testament on the first Sunday in January. They will be reading from the NIV translation of the New Testament arranged as a book, without chapter and verse divisions. This will require at home reading to facilitate discussing in the class. This is similar to the format of a book club. Each week there will be about five questions the class will discuss.
The books are available now in the a downstairs adult class room if you want to pick up your copy.
It seems Google added some extra protection to web sites to protect from spam. This led to anyone who tried to receive the bulletin via visiting the site to be rejected. This has been fixed. On the home page, under “Navigation” go to “The Minister” and click on that. On the Minister’s page you will see a place to sign up for the bulletin. Follow the instructions and if there is any problem email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Martha Albert and Mike and Karen Branch for fixing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House last Sunday evening.
If you haven’t yet filled out a directory information card please do so.