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Archive for Saturday, July 30, 2011

Faith Forum: What’s your favorite book of the bible?

July 30, 2011

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The Rev. Matt Sturtevant, First Baptist Church of Lawrence, 1330 Kasold Drive:

My favorite book of the Bible? Come on! I’m a Baptist preacher. It’s like the potato chips — I can’t pick just one!

There are so many life-changing options. The blunt honesty of the stories of the Pentateuch. The bedrock theology of the Gospels. The missional power of Acts.

I guess if I were pinned down for an answer, I would have to pick First Corinthians. This book combines all of the above: honest stories of the community of faith and their real-life problems, the service and sacrifice of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to equip us beyond what we can do alone.

Paul’s relationships with the Corinthians were deep and abiding, so the honesty with which he writes this letter to his friends is refreshing. He explains how to handle arguments between believers, how God created each of them with special gifts, and how to assure that community is welcoming and equitable for all.

This is Paul at his greatest — caring but firm, practical but spiritual, open to the leading of the Holy Spirit but expectant of the believer’s responsibility. Every chapter is a new pearl of wisdom — from the controversy of Chapter 10 about whether or not believers should eat meat sacrificed to idols (it’s really more about legalism and sharing your faith than menu options) to the beautiful poetry of chapter 13 (the “love passage” that you probably heard at the last wedding you attended).

First Corinthians is relevant because it was relevant. It proves that the faith is practical, dynamic and alive, even in the midst of the ambiguities of life. The practical words of a tentmaker from 2,000 years ago teach us how to be community, live in faith, and worship Christ. If I had to just pick one, it would be a good choice.

— Send email to Matt Sturtevant at matt@firstbaptistlawrence.com.

The Rev. Glenn Fletcher, pastor of student ministries, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:

My answer to this question may be disturbing for some, and yet for others it may be just the ray of hope they need.

The world we live in today seems full of disappointment and troubling news ... scandals and break-ups, staggering unemployment, nations on brink of financial collapse, wars and fighting, disasters and all sorts of horrible diseases.

Day in and day out, we seem to be bombarded by even more bad news. We become overwhelmed and numb, powerless and helpless. We watch what seems all hope fade into the blackened depressive abyss to be consumed by it. And for those hit the hardest in these times, the whole world seems to say, “You failure! Why don’t you just give up?”

It is in those broken, crushed and humiliating moments that the Book of Job sings to me.

See, Job goes from having it all together: good health, unmatched fame and fortune, a beautiful wife and loving family, to losing everything in a single day. Hour by hour more and more bad news befalls Job. He loses all his possessions, all his investments came crashing down, his kids are killed in a gruesome accident, and his body is ravaged with a horrid disease. His friends can’t understand what he’s going through and his own wife’s advice was for him to “curse God and die.”

Where is the hope? Where is the justice? What did Job do to deserve such misery?

Nothing.

But in the midst of all the muck and mire, it was there that the Creator God demonstrated his awesome might, his unfailing love, his great mercy and unerring justice for Job. And I am comforted knowing that God will do the same for me in my darkest moments.

— Send email to Glenn Fletcher at glenn@1inchrist.org.

Comments

John Kyle 3 years, 7 months ago

Even the worst chapter of Moby Dick is better than the best chapter of the bible. Read Moby Dick for life's answers.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 7 months ago

Moby Dick is one of the few examples of well-known literature in which the movie (with Gregory Peck) is better than the book. While the themes in Melville's novels are quite worthy of discussion, his style is intractably obtuse and boring. In fairness, the same can be said of Cooper.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

I agree that very, very few movies rival the book. In my opinion, an example of a book and movie being equally good is "To Kill A Mockingbird", starring, yes, Gregory Peck.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 7 months ago

I wonder just how many people who literally believe the text stories of the Holy Bible have any idea just where this book came from? The traditional version was compiled by a selection of subjects of the King of England from 1604 to 1611 with specific instructions to assure that the translation was in line with the already established doctrine of the Church of England. There were many decisions as to which scriptures were to be included or deleted, it is essentially a compliation of limited theology that must be approved by and agree with the opinions of King James.

Original scripture texts have many origins, written long after the events recoreded, including the events pertaining to the life of Jesus. These scriptures were not written the next day after they supposedly happened. To profess undying and unyielding faith in the actual historical fact of the events portrayed is very ignorant,. But given the "dumbing down" if the intelligence of far too many folks these days, they are ripe for the picking by unscrupulous individuals claiming that they are "the voice of God" or other such proclamations as one is apt to hear today in some religious congregations

Religion has always been an incindary topic and there are those who will regard what I have said above as the work of the devil (another fictious entity created by the fabricators of "holy scripture"). But given the unbelievable devotion to myths and fantisies of some people, there is no surprise here.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 7 months ago

"But given the "dumbing down" if (sic) the intelligence of far too many folks these days, they are ripe for the picking by unscrupulous individuals claiming that they are 'the voice of God' or other such proclamations as one is apt to hear today in some religious congregations."

Take out the reference to formal religion and it sounds pretty close to how Obama got elected.

nouseforaname 3 years, 7 months ago

Leviticus and Luke: the two opposite ends of the Bible spectrum. Luke tells us that we need to have compassion and love for everyone and Leviticus says we need to shun the homosexuals and not get tattoos.

FloridaSunshine 3 years, 7 months ago

Reverend Sturtevant...I agree with you regarding First Corinthians...the Apostle Paul at his best!!
Reverend Fletcher, the book of Job reminds us that the rain does indeed fall on the just and the unjust. We are but sojourners...we have not reached our eternal destination with our Lord yet...so trials and heartache will come. But I have a Friend...Jesus is with me through it all. He loves me and I love Him...we have an eternal bond that nothing...and no one...in this world can break...not even the pitiful criticisms of pagans and atheists. I've been in their positions of turmoil and unbelief...they cause me no alarm. If they ever open their hearts as I finally did, to experience the great love of the everlasting arms of my dear Lord, they, as I, will truly never look back.

I love the LJW posters...many are in the same position I was so many years ago...agnostic to say the least. As I've said before, Jesus is such a gentleman...He will wait...He will knock at the door of your heart, but He will never try to enter without an invitation. Perhaps, as happened with me, one day these beloved ones who try to put my blessed Lord down, will be at the end of their rope and call out to Him. He will be there. And He will hear and, as I said, once having experienced the One Great Love, there will be no desire to ever look back.

My favorite book of the Holy Bible is Psalms...I, as David, go to the Rock...I can relate to David because I've had many of the same thoughts, hurts, and triumphs he experienced. My Lord is my High Tower. (Psalm 18:2)

I also enjoy the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) because of its poetry...solace to my soul. I can't think of any piece of poetry more beautiful than Song of Solomon 2:10 - 14. A "tie" is First Corinthians 13:1 - 13.

FloridaSunshine 3 years, 7 months ago

Hi to you, also, tange...So good to hear from you! I missed your posts for about a week...figured you went on vacation to get away from the heat.

By the way, Jesus is my Saviour, not Paul. I have taken part in numerous discourses through the years regarding Paul's thoughts and writings. But as you wrote once (as Ophiuchus, I'm quite sure)..."Why throw the baby out with the bath water?" I remember it well, still appreciate you very much and, to this day, smile when I think of it.

As the Apostle Paul said in Philippians, chapter two, we must each work out our own salvation. I do not hold Scripture up to disavow anyone's beliefs or make them feel lower than pond scum. (Which I've seen a lot of "so-called" Christians do, not to mention others of different religions...and atheists)...I don't know how people live that way...continually putting someone down. But it's done. All the time. When two married people cannot agree long enough to stay married until their children are raised (which includes myself and my ex-husband), how can we think everyone is going to agree on Biblical issues and all things of a religious nature? Last time I checked there were about 38,000 Christian denominations world-wide. I'm pinpointing "Christianity" because the Faith Forum question is regarding our favorite book in the Holy Bible (although they said, "bible"). You see, Faith Forum and I disagree on how "bible" should be written! "Bible" is the name of a book; therefore, it should be capitalized whether or not they call it "Holy"...although "Holy" is indeed part of its title. Oh, my!!!

There you have it...we're each on our own to work out our personal salvation. Which, I believe, is the way it should be. But I also believe along with that awesome responsibility comes another tremendous obligation...respect for another's working out their own personal salvation. If I'm asked a question, I'll answer it...if I'm not asked, I will not alienate someone by being foolishly arrogant in my faith. To me, the arrogance would annihilate any modicum of religious belief I may have been entertaining.

I remember some time back being asked a "religious" question by one of LJW's regular posters...not on Faith Forum as I recall. Even though I was asked the question directly and sincerely, I felt very "uncomfortable" to have answered it. Does that make sense? I didn't want to contribute to anyone misconstruing what I might say and reinforcing any negative thoughts they may have about "religion".

tange, there's an ongoing repartee between myself and the Apostle Paul...he's a tough one, and I have to remember whence forth he came. But he loved his Lord with all of his heart...just as I do...and I refuse to throw the baby out with the bath water. That notion was reinforced by you some time back. s-m-i-l-e

Glad you're back, tange. I'm faring well...I hope you are, too...

FloridaSunshine 3 years, 7 months ago

tange, what a beautiful bouquet of delight your post has left for me this afternoon! I can feel myself smiling THE biggest smile...you are reminding me of Ophiuchus right about now!

Yes, I know what you're saying...I am truly grateful that you didn't disappear forever. Knowing what you've been about, and that your efforts are paying dividends...both of those nuggets of information make my heart sing!! No complaints and no regrets on your part surprise me not at all. I know you have given your best.

The "secret" (if indeed there is a secret to it) about lapsing into some of my benevolent rhubarb, is that one has to be immersed in it whether things are going well or not. (B-I-G S-M-I-L-E)

How you do make me smile, tange...and I thank you for this most beautiful bouquet!!!

ivalueamerica 3 years, 7 months ago

I like Numbers, where it instructs priests to perform abortions on adulterous women, or Leviticus where alongside the man shall not lie with man as he does with a woman bit there are things about burning beds if a woman menstruates in it, wearing clothing of mixed fibers (that is my particular favorite because I always knew as a young child that poly-cotton blends were the work of demons from hell) and not eating crops that were grown in the same soil. Let us not forget the part of Genesis where Lot's daughter take turn getting him drunk so they can rape him to carry his baby.

But my favorite would have to be the song of Solomon. Standing alone and not part of the Bible, many conservatives might have it banned as pornography as it is very graphic erotic poetry.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm just always amazed that ANYONE can think that the Book of Job proves that "God demonstrated his awesome might, his unfailing love, his great mercy and unerring justice for Job."

Let's see. God is tempted by 'Satan'. Yup...that's exactly what happened. (Regardless how "Satan" is interpreted.)

'Satan' told him that the only reason Job stuck by him was because God favored him. God said that wasn't true. 'Satan' said "Prove it!" So God...instead of saying "I don't need to prove anything to you...I'm God. Go pester someone else" succumbs to 'Satan''s jibes and said "OK...I'll prove it to you."

So he gives 'Satan' permission to destroy all Job's possessions...and 'Satan' destroys not only his things but all his kids...and Job still sticks with God.

Then 'Satan' tells God that Job won't stick with him if Job himself is afflicted...so God takes 'Satan''s bet on that, too!

Again, God doesn't say "Stop annoying me. I know everything and you don't, so blow it out your butt." Rather, he allows Job to suffer physically as well. And Job still sticks with him.

Keep in mind that the only person suffering here is Job (and his wife). It's not costing God anything. He knows he's going to win. He's not suffering. 'Satan''s not suffering. Just poor Job who didn't do a single thing to deserve it. Just because God couldn't tell 'Satan' to blow it out his butt.

Then, when Job and his friends are talking about what Job apparently had done to deserve all this and what to do about it, God appears as a whirlwind and starts bragging about how he's the ruler of everything and so doesn't have to justify his decisions to anyone.

Finally God "forgives" Job for wanting to know what he (Job) had done to deserve this. Then he "rewards" Job for being faithful by restoring his health...the health God had allowed to be taken away in the first place to replaced by unbelivable suffering.

God also allows Job to regain the riches he possessed before this evil bet and more. And his lucky wife gets to bear 10 new children. Yeah. This arrogant, haughty God thinks that it's no big deal that he allowed all of Job's beloved kids to be killed because, hey, God thinks he made up for it by giving Job new kids...as if "replacement" kids can ever make up for the lost of your other children.

I see absolutely NO love in God's actions in the Book of Job. NO mercy. NO justice. Just an shallow ego that 'Satan' took full advantage of. God was provoked into "proving" that Job would stick with him...even though he already knew what Job would do. There's nothing "awesome" or "mighty" about that.

Anyone who is "comforted knowing that God will do the same for me in my darkest moments" might want to stop and rethink that opinion...since it was God who deliberately allowed Job's "darkest moments" to all occur just to win a frickin' bet. A bet that God already knew he'd win!! Yeesh.

lunacydetector 3 years, 7 months ago

it's a parable or poem so people don't blame God for when bad things happen..... old testament, nobody could read back then.....squelches an easy excuse that only bad things happen to sinners.

Gene Wallace 3 years, 7 months ago

The Tome of Arawyn 1:1 The purpose of Life is to Experience the myriad wonders of Life and Living.

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