Here is a 20 minute video introduction to the letter to the Romans offered by Professor N.T. Wright. (This is Dr Wright’s introduction to his own online course on Romans. Also excellent I’m sure.)
In the following article, Richard Rohr talks about hermeneutics – the process of biblical interpretation. How do we interpret Scripture? How did Jesus interpret his own Scriptures? Might his way inform our own approach? Father Richard says:
“We will move forward on our “tricycle” of faith only with three good wheels: Tradition, Scripture, and Experience. … If we leave off any of these three wheels, our interpretations of Scripture and reality will be unstable and biased … Christians who say “only Scripture” end up being unconsciously dishonest and inconsistent, because they are relying on their own “tradition” of interpreting those Scriptures (without acknowledging it). Even more importantly, we must recognize that we cannot not rely upon our own experience. There is no such thing as a completely unbiased opinion! Since we all use tradition and experience anyway, why not admit it and thereby hold ourselves accountable?” Read the entire article…
Father Richard Rohr considers the goodness of creation…
Peter Enns (part 1) on how to understand the violent stories in the Bible.
Peter Enns (part 2) on how to interpret troubling passages in the Bible.
“the Bible is not a book that in all its parts reveals what we must believe about God, the world, and our place in it. Rather, the Bible is itself a dynamic tradition that reflects different theological points of view.”
An excellent essay by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks from 2008: seeing The Story from a Jewish perspective.
“Abraham is told to leave all the things that constrain freedom – our land, birthplace and father’s house – and begin a new kind of life in covenant with God. Genesis is about that covenant as it affects individuals and families. The rest of Tanakh is about the covenant as it applies to the life of a nation. The Jewish story, still unfinished, is about the journey from multiple forms of slavery to what Levinas called ‘difficult freedom’. Torah is the template of responsible freedom, our constitution of liberty…”
Father Richard Rohr
Life itself is always three steps forward and two steps backward. We get the point and then we lose or doubt it. In that, the biblical text mirrors our own human consciousness and journey. Our job is to see where the three steps forward texts are heading (invariably toward mercy, simplicity, inclusion, nonviolence, and trust) and to spot the two steps backward texts (which are usually about vengeance, exclusion, a rather petty and insecure god, law over grace, incidentals over substance, and technique over actual relationship).
The Bible is an anthology of many books. It is a record of people’s experience of God’s self-revelation. It is an account of our very human experience of the divine intrusion into history. The book did not fall from heaven in a pretty package. It was written by people trying to listen for and to God. I believe that the Spirit was guiding the listening and writing process. We must also know that humans always see “through a glass darkly . . . and all knowledge is imperfect” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Prayer and patience surrounding such human words will keep us humble and searching for the true Living Word, which is exactly how the Spirit always teaches (1 Corinthians 2:10,13).
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008), 12-13; and Richard Rohr and Joseph Martos, The Great Themes of Scripture: Old Testament, (Franciscan Media: 1988), 1.
Father Richard’s 2016 Daily Meditation Theme
Richard Rohr’s meditations for 2016 invite us to discover, experience, and participate in the foundation of our existence–Love. Throughout the year, Fr. Richard’s meditations follow the thread of Love through many of his classic teachings in 1-2 week segments. Read previous meditations and view a video introduction at cac.org/category/daily-meditations/.
By Dr. Lisa W. Davison
I am a fairly open-minded and intelligent person, but one thing has evaded my comprehension for some time now. No one takes the biblical texts more seriously than I do; I’ve spent my life studying, exploring and learning about the bible – gaining a working knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek (the 3 languages in which the biblical texts were originally written), so that I do not have to rely on someone else’s translation that is far removed from the extant biblical texts and tarnished by human biases. Granted, my own translations are also influenced by my biases, but I have made it an intentional effort to remove myself from and critique those lenses with which I read the bible. I cannot say the same for all translators; some of whom have claimed that they are merely giving a “literal” translation of the original language (i.e., Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek) into the target language (in this case English). This is absolutely impossible.
At this point, I must say a word (or more) about this term, “literal”, and all of its derivatives. In my lifetime, I have heard countless, well-meaning people of faith who claim that they believe the bible to be the very words of God; therefore they take/read the bible “literally.” Really?
Read the article at Dmergent:
This pamphlet, by the Rev. Walter Wink, may be ordered in print online from the Fellowship of Reconciliation for just $1.75 per copy — and even less in bulk amounts.
Sexual issues are tearing our churches apart today as never before. The issue of homosexuality threatens to fracture whole denominations, as the issue of slavery did one hundred and fifty years ago. We naturally turn to the Bible for guidance, and find ourselves mired in interpretative quicksand. Is the Bible able to speak to our confusion on this issue?
The debate over homosexuality is a remarkable opportunity, because it raises in an especially acute way how we interpret the Bible, not in this case only, but in numerous others as well. The real issue here, then, is not simply homosexuality, but how Scripture informs our lives today….
Read the entire article here:
Hood County Clerk Katie Lang appealed to the Bible as the basis for her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses. She is reported as saying: “I do believe that marriage is for one man and one woman because it did derive from the Bible.”
Reports indicate that other supporters have also appealed to the Bible.
Marriage, however, takes various forms in the Bible. The Bible does not offer a “one-size-fits-all,” single version of marriage.
In fact, marriages in the Bible often differ significantly from contemporary understandings of male-female marriages…….
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/06/4-thoughts-about-the-bible-as-a-human-book/
I often tell my conservative friends that their belief in an inerrant Bibleis just as subjective as my subjective belief in an errant Bible. But they just can’t see it. They continue to shout the same refrain that their position rests on objective truth and mine subjective. These conservatives genuinely believe that they are the only truly rational ones and that we progressives pick and choose what is true without any rational basis. This is one of the great fundamental fallacies of fundamentalism.
Chuck Queen is a Baptist minister and the author of Being a Progressive Christian (is not) for Dummies (nor for know-it-alls): An Evolution of Faith. Chuck blogs at A Fresh Perspective, and is also a contributor to the blog Faith Forward.
Read the entire essay here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2015/06/christian-fundamentalisms-grand-illusion/
But as [children] grow older, especially when they enter high school or college, they find that their structured world supported by Bible verses is not adequate for providing a compelling explanation for the complex world around them and how the Bible can continue functioning as the anchor it once was.
#5 Pilgrimage—This ancient metaphor for describing the Christian faith as a whole is also apt for describing the interpretation the Bible.
Pilgrimage is a metaphor for humility. Pilgrimage encourages us to let go of the need to have final certainty on how we understand the Bible and be less prone to put up walls of division, because we are more willing to discuss, explore, and change rather than proclaim, conquer, and defend.
February 28, 2015 by
The truth of this world’s impermanence also suggests that my anxiety about coming out as Christian has a perversely self-interested aspect. It is true that I feel intimidated by a conservative culture that seems intent on creating boundaries around Christianity rather than open doors. But it is also true that I wrote this article knowing that at least a few of them will probably like it – some might even tell me it needed to be written. The image of Christianity and progressivism as a newly hip fusion genre—it’s fucking edgy, man—is a strong siren song.
by John Pavlovitz February 25, 2015
The Bible we do have, is an incredibly complex library of writings, culled from thousands of years and multiple, very human writers; books that cross genres and native languages. Understanding the cultural layers piled upon the words over time, and finding the irreducible core and practical application in any given passage is a monumental challenge, even for those who spend the majority of their lifetimes deeply devoted to study.
The Old Testament scholar says the “military consumerist mentality” is on of the most pressing problems faces churches today.
January 9, 2015 by Marlena Graves
One day I was eating lunch with a Jewish classmate who grew up in Israel. We were both in our first year, and somehow the topic turned to the story of Adam and Eve.
Saying Yes to the Bible, and No to Biblicism (in post-Christendom Christianity)
The following is an extended excerpt from Addison Hodges Hart’s new book Strangers and Pilgrims Once More: Being Disciples of Jesus in a Post-Christendom World, specifically, chapter 3 “Saying Yes to the Bible, and No to Biblicism…”
Hart’s articulation of the nature of the Bible will immediately ring true to some of you, I’m sure. It is, however, clearly intentionally provocative, which may be a barrier to some. But let me encourage you to try and listen anyway.