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Bible Matters

Join Education Director, Adam Ericksen, in exploring the Bible, its historical significance and its application to everyday life.

Does the Bible Matter in the Postmodern World?

1.  Does the Bible matter in the postmodern world?  Why or why not?
2.  What does it mean to say that the Bible is the Word of God – especially when the Bible never calls itself by that title?
3.  What, if any, is the relationship between science and religion?

Interpreting the Bible – The Satan and the Holy Spirit

Genesis

Genesis in 8.5 minutes!

Exodus and Freedom

What is true freedom?
What happens when someone’s freedom comes at the expense of another’s freedom?
What is the relationship between freedom and responsibility?
How might you identify with the Hebrews?  With the Egyptians?  With God?

Leviticus: The Heart of Violence and the Heart of Love

Do you agree that Leviticus attempts to transform the human propensity for violence?

Numbers: Identity and Violence

Does Numbers critique violence, or does it encourage violence?

Deuteronomy: The Law of Desire

What are your thoughts about Deuteronomy?
Do you agree that God stands with victims?  Does that mean God is against oppressors?

Joshua: Violence Exposed

Do you agree that Joshua critiques violence?

Judges: Oppression

What happens when the oppressed become the oppressors?

Ruth: Faith and Sex

Ruth, I think, is ultimately about how to participate in meaningful relationships.  Does the sexuality in Ruth surprise you?

A friend pointed out an interesting connection on my Facebook page.  “Bethlehem” means “House of Bread.” Naomi and her family had to leave the “House of Bread” to find sustenance somewhere else. My friend stated, “All of us experience famine – in work, in friendship, in love, in marriage – so where do we go to feed this famine?”

First Samuel: The Ark of Truth

Is there a difference between possessing the truth and the truth possessing you?
What difference might it make if we believed the truth possessed us?

Second Samuel: Violence, Betrayal, Sex, and Self Critique

Adam discusses Second Samuel and the Bible’s self critique of violence.

First Kings: A Train Wreck and Two Prostitutes

What can we learn about God from prostitutes?  A lot, claims First Kings.

First Chronicles: The Violence of Humans and the Peace of God

Adam discusses First Chronicles.

God tells David he can’t build the Temple because David has shed too much blood.  Solomon, whose name relates to the Hebrew word for peace, rest, and wholeness, shalom, will build the Temple. Adam argues this passage from First Chronicles 22 is meant to challenge the human idea that God desires violence.  Rather, it is humans that desire violence and we project that desire on to God.  God desires peace, rest, and wholeness or shalom. 

Join the conversation and let us know what you think!

Second Chronicles: Back to Egypt

Second Chronicles tells of the fall of the combined monarchy of Israel. Starting with the reign of King Solomon, God comes to Solomon and tells him that he can have anything that he wanted. Solomon chooses to receive wisdom which greatly pleases God. During the reign of Solomon we see Israel and Jerusalem become very similar to Egypt prior to the Exodus. Second Chronicles tells the self-critical story of how Israel mirrored the oppressive ways of Egypt.

Ezra: It’s Complicated

Adam Ericksen discusses the book of Ezra. Ezra describes the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian Empire back to Jerusalem. Cyrus the king of Persia allows for the return of the Jews to their homeland. In this book God works with those who are not a part of the Jewish faith to help to restore hope. The book of Ezra has two major events that describe what happens with those who are victimized and set free. The leader of the Persian empire Cyrus sets free and restores the victims within the ancient Israelite faith to their rightful place. The other is that once the people are restored to their rightful place, there is a painful act of exclusion. Is God part of the exclusion? Or does God seek reconciliation?

Nehemiah: God Comforts, Scapegoating, and Immigration

Adam explores the book of Nehemiah. We see God’s ability to comfort the world and the way in which scapegoating is addressed in the Bible. Through Nehemiah, God is able to comfort the Persian emperor through his work in the palace as the emperor’s cup barer. This means that he is to be present at meals and must try all of the emperor’s food and drink before the emperor does to make sure that it isn’t poisoned. Nehemiah asks the king to be able to assist in the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was in charge of the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. As the rebuilding continues conflict grows. How will it be resolved?

Esther: Sex and Rivalry

Adam offers his commentary not only on the Book of Esther also our relation to God. Esther places many things into question. King Xerxes falling in love with Esther causes rivalry between the Jews and the Persian people. Specifically between her own family (her uncle Mordecai) and the chief general in Xerxes Army (Hammond) The Book of Esther asks the question were can God be found within our world. Offer your own commentary on Adam and the Raven Foundations.

 Job: Accusation and Innocence

Adam discusses Job of the Bible. Job challenges much of the wisdom in the Bible that claims good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. For example, see Deuteronomy 6:18, Psalm 1, and Proverbs 3. For a book similar to Job, see Ecclesiastes. Job claims his innocence, while his friends unite in accusation against him. In the end, God sides with Job, the victim. Here we see the evolution in the human understanding of God. God is not with the crowd that unites in accusation against a common enemy; rather, God is on the side of the victim. This is seen ultimately in life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

For more, see Rene Girard’s book, “Job: The Victim of His People.”

The Psalm: Violence, Revenge, and Transformation

Adam discusses the Psalms.  Why are we so uncomfortable with violent passages of the Psalms?  They make us confront our own ugly desires for revenge.  But the Psalms also allow us to see that the Judeo-Christian God stands with the victims of culture. As the Bible continues, we see that God stands with the victims, not in order to create more victims, but to heal broken relationships in the spirit of love and forgiveness.

Proverbs: Wicked Wisdom and Economic Justice

The wisdom of Proverbs comes down to two choices: wickedness and violence or generosity and justice. Wicked actions will only bring our own demise. As Jesus says, those who live by the sword die by the sword. We will always follow in the footsteps of other. Who will you follow?

Ecclesiastes: Meaning and Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes claim life is meaningless. Why? Because we are constantly comparing ourselves with others. The author compares himself to others when he claims to have had more possessions “than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.” (2:7) To make his point comparing ourselves with others, he repeats himself “I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem.” He realized that all this “was vanity and a chasing after the wind.”

Yet, Ecclesiastes insists we can find joy in life. We can do so when we release our grasp on finding meaning in comparing ourselves with others and seek to love others as we love ourselves.

For the section on love, see W. Sibley Towners commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:9-10. “The point here is … the importance of the ability to love amid the feeting absurdity of life.”

Song of Songs: Why God is Like a Teenage Girl

Adam discusses Song of Songs and argues that the book seeks to repair the brokenness that happens in the Garden of Eden and the the book compares the love of God to the love of a teenage girl.

Yeah. That’s hot.

For Marvin Gaye’s song “Let’s Get It On” here: http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Get-It-On/dp/B001NTNJD2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343327352&sr=8-1&keywords=marvin+gaye+lets+get+it+on

Isaiah: The Politics of Nonviolence

Isaiah’s political message is not good for national defense! But it’s the only message that will lead to the reconciliation of the nations.

Jeremiah: Michael Brown’s Murder in Ferguson and Racism in America

Adam discusses the prophet Jeremiah and relates his call for justice to America’s continued racism. For more on how racism plays a role in economics, housing, schools, employment, and the criminal justice system, see the document “Race, Power, and Policy: Dismantling Structural Racism.”

Lamentations: Political Protest, Grief, and Transforming Theology

Lamentations is a profound book about grief and loss. It tells us we need to express our grief or it will express itself in destructive ways. It’s also a book about political protest. It says the scapegoating mechanism ins’t just. It’s also a book that challenges any theology that claims God is violent.

© 2011 Raven Foundation. Site by JPMM.

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