7/7/19 – Love is our God. Compassion is our Religion.

Posted on : Jul 3rd, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Are the stories in the Bible really true?  Did they really happen?  Did Jesus really walk on water?  Did Moses really part the Red Sea (or more accurately, the Sea of Reeds)?  Did God really create the world in 7 days?  If so, why does the second creation story in Genesis 2 contradict the creation story in Genesis 1?

Those are all great questions which lead us to the next “belief” in our summer worship series, “8 Things Progressive Christians Believe.”  This Sunday we’ll focus on #3: “We take all of scripture seriously, not selected portions literally.”

Kobie Vermaak, our former minister of faith formation, responded brilliantly when asked during a Bible Study if a particular bible story was true.  She said, “The question is not, ‘Is the story true?’ The question is, ‘What’s the truth in the story?’”

In the ancient world, stories were not told based on what we today would call factual truth.  Stories were told to teach and reveal truth.  Kobie was so right.  The question isn’t “Is the story is true?  The question is “What’s the truth in the story?”

Our Hebrew and Christian scriptures (sacred text; sacred story) were never intended to be taken literally.  They were intended to be taken seriously.  Scripture contracts itself from the beginning to the end.  It’s impossible to take all of scripture literally, though some claim to do so.  Those who do, clearly don’t. 

Rather than pick and choose one sentence or one story of the bible and try to take it literally, Progressive Christians try to take all Scripture seriously.   Most of the time when Christians try to interpret scripture literally, it is done to hurt others who are “different” or less privileged.  But, there are also a few examples where taking scripture literally becomes humorous.  The very last verse of the Bible is one such case.  In the Bible there are certain phrases that are called “Blessings” or “Ascriptions.”  Ascriptions ascribe glory and praise to God or upon the people of faith. 

The last book of the bible is the book of Revelation.  We don’t know who the author was, but it is usually ascribed to John of Patmos, who was a fiery preacher during a time of horrible persecution of the Christians.  It was written towards the end of the first century, AD.  Almost all of the book is written in mystical language which was used to protect the author and the early Christian community from the wrath of the Roman Emperor, who was trying to eliminate the Christian story by eliminating those who taught and told it. 

In one last final warning, the author of this book wrote, “If anyone adds one word to this book, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.  The author then concludes with the blessing, “Come, Christ Jesus!”

Now, here comes the humorous part.  After such a dire warning, someone added an ascription and benediction: “The grace of the Risen Jesus be with all the saints.  Amen.”  You gotta admit, that takes guts! 

The editor that added those words must of either had fire-retardant clothing or known that they weren’t meant to be taken literally!  In either case, it’s a great example of why we shouldn’t try to take scripture literally!

More on Sunday,

Blessings,

Dan

Rev. 22: 18-21

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Christ Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

 

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