Recap video of our 1st session.
I. Reflection video by Pastor Rob (Will be posted here on Thurs. Feb. 25, 2021.)
II. Reading for the week: Chapters 1-4, (p1-21)
III. Scriptures cited this week: Matthew 22:34-40
IV. Summary of the reading. The Bible is a mess. No, really, IT’S A MESS. Everyone has their own opinion. There is no “right” way to read the bible. Honestly, it is up to each of us to choose. For myself this means trusting my gut. I often ask: “Does this sound like the God I know?” And if it doesn’t then I have learned that I need to be OK with that. Because everyone knows God in their own way. So, the choice is up to you. Do you believe in the murderous God of anger, judgment, and punishment in the Hebrew Testament? Do you believe in the God of love in the Hebrew Testament? Do you believe in both? Read the first 4 chapters of Will Horn’s book, The Handbook: A Quick Conversation Guide to What the Bible Does and Does Not Say About Homosexuality, and begin a journey that will allow you to decide for yourself.
V. Discussion/ Journal Questions: Pastor Rob highly recommends keeping a journal to write down your thoughts and feeling about our discussion questions and anything else that comes to mind during the study. Not only is a journal an excellent tool for reflection but once finished provides you with a wonderful tool for discernment in the future. Your journal will capture your thoughts in real time. After the fact you can then return to your journal to remember where you were and what you thought about the role of scripture and how we interpret these sacred words - which is really what this class is all about.
In the introduction Will Horn shares: “As a same-gender loving (SGL) Christian who happens to also pastor a church; I remember feeling tortured as a teenager as I attempted to reconcile my faith with my orientation. The fear, desperation and feelings of hopelessness were absolutely agonizing.”
1. Have you faced your own fears, desperation and feelings of hopelessness as you have tried to reconcile who you are with your faith, your church, and your family and friends?
2. What does that feel like?
3. What did you do?
4. What did they do?
5. Finally, how do you think this has affected you in the rest of your life?
6. Horn declares in his introduction: “TRUTH is the only thing that makes any of us free!” At the end of every week’s study, we want you to ask yourself:
7. What is the truth I have found today that can help to set me free?
B. CHAPTER 1: MOST CHRISTIANS ARE BIBLICALLY ILLITERATE
“Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli are quoted as saying, “American’s revere the Bible – but, by and large, they don’t read it. Because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates (p.2).”
1. Do you consider yourself biblically literate or illiterate? (And why?)
2. What has your experience been like reading the bible?
“Taking words that were written thousands of years ago in an ancient language to people who were very different from us and attempting to apply them to our modern day lives is irresponsible at best. In many regards, it has proven to be dangerous (p. 3).”
3. How do you feel about the statement above which is referring to context?
Definition: Context. Noun. The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully assessed. Or, the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.
4. Can you think of any examples of how the Bible has been used “out of context” in ways that have proven to be dangerous and even counter to the very message and meaning of the scriptures themselves? If so, what are they?
C. CHAPTER 2: THE BIBLE IS NOT A GUIDE TO HUMAN SEXUALITY
“When engaging in conversations about the Bible, there two very important things that must be considered before substantive, informed dialog can take place. The first and most important thing to consider is that the compilation of 66 books that we traditionally accept as the protestant King James version of the Holy Bible is primarily purposed to show us the loving nature of God by giving accounts or telling stories of how He dealt with the Israelites and the New Testament followers of Jesus Christ. The second thing to note is that nearly all of the modern concepts, perspectives and scientific advances that we accept as common knowledge today were not a part of the culture or consciousness of the various Biblical writers (p.8).”
1. “The compilation of 66 books” that make up the protestant Bible sounds like a library. A library has all sorts of books written by all sorts of people. Each reflecting the particular perspective of their life experience. Can you name some different perspectives found in scripture?
2. Can you think of any modern concepts, perspectives and scientific advances that we accept as common knowledge today that were not a part of the culture or consciousness of the various Biblical writers?
Read Dr. Michael Coogan’s quote about the purpose of scripture on p. 9 and then read Matthew 22:34-40. Will Horn says that using a Bible as a guide to human sexuality is akin to using it to program your smart TV or iPhone (p,10).
3. What do you expect to find when you read the bible?
D. CHAPTER 3: SCRIPTURE MUST BE READ IN CONTEXT
Definition: “Fundamentalism is defined as a form of religion, especially Islam or protestant Christianity, that upholds a belief in strict, literal interpretation of scripture (p,14).”
1. Can you think of any examples of Fundamentalist beliefs in scripture?
Definition: “Literalism… is the interpretation of words in their usual and most basic sense (p.15).”
2. Reflecting on how Will Horn states it is easier but dangerous to use a fundamentalist or literalist interpretation of scripture can you think of any ways the Bible has been used as a weapon against others?
E. CHAPTER 4: LANGUAGE, TRANSLATION AND ORAL TRADITION
Fact: The Bible was not written in English.
Fact: The books of the Bible were first passed down by oral tradition long before they were ever written down.
Have you ever played the game “telephone?” You whisper a message into someone’s ear, (once and only once), and they pass it on to someone else, whispering in their ear, on and on, until everyone in the room has shared the message. The last person to receive the message is the first person who shared it. Almost always, the message is radically different than intended. While the message was being passed around the room some misheard or simply projected their own thoughts into the message itself, changing the message, and therefore it’s meaning. The Bible is like this in many ways. What we have is not what it started out to be. The bible we have today is the result of thousands of years of playing “telephone,” let alone the various issues with translations over the centuries.
Word for word translations use “a philosophy called Formal Equivalence. The King James Version (KJV) and Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) use this philosophy. Other translations were done with what is called Dynamic Equivalence. This is where the translation attempts to capture the idea of a passage and make it easier for the contemporary reader to understand. The New Living Translation (NLT) and the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) use this philosophy. The New Revised International Version (NIV) which is a popular version from the 1970’s uses a combination of both (p.18).
Language is dynamic, meaning it is ever changing and evolving. We do not speak the old English used in the time of the original King James Bible. Nor does anyone speak in the ancient Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, (the language of Jesus), in our present day.
1. Which philosophy of translation do you feel drawn to and why?
F. For Mar 3 7PM online Zoom meeting: Read (pgs. 21-36) Chapters 5-7, (Homo-Where? / WDJS?/ What are "They?"