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Lesson 2

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WHITTIER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
“How We Read the Bible”
Fall 2011
Session 2 – Sept. 21, 2011

Opening Prayer
Quote for the week:
“Some think that what Paul wrote about gospel power is not true of the whole Bible.  They don’t believe that every part of the Scripture is profitable.  There are genealogies and pedigrees, primitive ways of dealing with lepers, and such things as instructions on how to sacrifice goats and oxen.  These seem to have little value for today.  …There is nothing useless in the Word of God.  …Those oxen and goats that were slaughtered teach you to sacrifice the ugliness of your heart.  You may have leprosy of your soul.  Those genealogies lead us to the birth of our Savior Christ.  Everything in the Bible is there for your sake.”   John Jewel (British Reformer, 1522-1571)

Position 1
The Bible, though written by individuals, has been so controlled by the Holy Spirit that it is without error in all it teaches in matters of science and history, as well as in matters of theology.

The Presbyterian Panel:  2990 lay members, elders, pastors and specialized clergy.
Positions: 1 – 14%;  2 – 23%;  3 – 48%;  4 – 11%;  5 – 4%

Authority & Interpretation
Two issues are present. One issue is that of the authority of the Bible. It concerns what kind of a rule for faith and life Scripture is taken to be. For example, is Scripture a rule that governs every possible issue of truth, whether it be religious, moral, or scientific? Again, are the words of the direct revelation of God, or are these words the revelation of God that actually occurred prior to its being recorded in Scripture? It is important to note that to answer these questions in opposite ways is not to choose for or against the authority of Scripture; it is rather to choose one or another conception of the authority of Scripture.  Whichever way one answers the authority of Scripture is being affirmed, albeit in different forms.

The second, closely related issue present in this range of opinion is that of the right interpretation of the Bible. It concerns the determination of what a text of Scripture in the original actually says and the judgment of how what is said is properly used for governing faith and practice. For example, the sixth commandment reads in many familiar English translations “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17).  Careful attention to the original languages and the common usage of terminology in ancient Near Eastern culture reveals that the text actually says something more precise than to do no killing. The text actually says that unlawful, high-handed killing is forbidden. Thus several contemporary translations become more specific, translating the commandment as prohibiting murder. Next, the right interpretation of the text proceeds to the forming of a judgment about how the text is properly used in ruling faith and practice. Should it rule out all taking of human life, some of it, most of it, or none of it? Should it furnish any other kind of guidance for faith and practice?

Our focus Scriptures
Old Testament:
Genesis 1 & 2;
Exodus 20:1-17;
Leviticus 12 & 18;
Joshua 6:21, 8:26; 11:20;
Isaiah 40;
Ezekiel 1 & 37.

New Testament:
Matthew 5:17-48;
Luke 1:26-38;
John 6:1-14, 16-21;
Romans 1:26-32;
I Thessalonians 4:13-18;
Revelation 7 & 21:1-4.

Closing Prayer

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