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Lesson 3

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WHITTIER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
“How We Read the Bible”
Fall 2011
Session 3 – Oct. 5, 2011

Opening Prayer
Quote of the week
If you find something when you are reading the Bible that is difficult to understand or seems repugnant, don’t be too hasty to reject it.  The problem may be your ignorance and may have nothing to do with the Bible.  It will help a lot if you notice not only what is spoken or written, but also of whom, and to whom, it is being said.  Consider the circumstances and the intentions.  Read what comes before and after.  Some things are written with the intent that we should “go and do likewise.”  Other things are written to demonstrate what we should avoid, such as when David causes Uriah to be slain because David wanted his wife.  Read the Bible wisely and carefully.  When you come across strange behaviors and cryptic statements, leave them with God.  Let those who are better informed than you worry about them.

Miles Coverdale, “A Prologue to the Bible” (Bishop of Exeter, England, 1488-1569)

Position 2
The Bible, though written by individuals and reflecting their personalities, has been so controlled by the Holy Spirit that it is trustworthy in all it teaches in matters of theology and ethics, but not necessarily in matters of science and history.

Background material
The Presbyterian Panel:  2990 lay members, elders, pastors and specialized clergy.
Positions: 1 – 14%;  2 – 23%;  3 – 48%;  4 – 11%;  5 – 4%
The Panel clearly leans in a conservative direction when it comes to the inspiration of the Bible.  Position 2 was supported by twice as many (23 percent) as position 4 (11 percent). In other words, if an effort is made to rationalize the relationship of divine and human elements in the composition of the Bible, then greater emphasis should be placed on the divine, even at risk of slighting the human. When this is coupled with the even greater imbalance between position 1 (14 percent) and position 5 (4 percent), it is clear that the Panel, speaking for the church constituency, affirmed that the Bible is indeed the written word of God.  (PDF p. 26)

More information from the guidelines
As already indicated, these guidelines are proposed primarily for use on those occasions when Scripture is appealed to for guidance in making decisions about specific questions posed in the courts of the church.  On such occasions, the questions are usually not general inquiries about what the church is to believe and do; rather, they concern the evaluation and development of specific positions on believing and obeying.  This use of Scripture makes special demands upon the practice of interpretation.  The entire range of Scripture’s witness must be, brought to bear on the question in an accurate and appropriate manner.  If appeal is made to only one text or a selected few, rather than to the whole of Scripture, conclusions may lack adequate foundation or qualification.  If the process of deciding does not consider the relation of the question at hand to the faith of the church expressed in its confessional statements and to the shared knowledge of the culture, responses will likely fall short of authenticity and relevance.  (PDF p. 10)

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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