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Feb 10

A Different Way to Read the Bible Forum

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Greetings, Fellow Adult Forum. We are all set up to post learnings, observations, requests, etc., during our upcoming Adult Forum education 7-week class on Rob Bell's book. Feel free to post as we move through the 7-week curriculum. Enjoy!! ......... Chip

Super Week 1 & 2 discussion. Although I didn't take notes, I'll do my best to summarize some of the discussion regarding the Bible & Rob Bell readings made during the class.

1. Re: "A New Kind of Tribe". We all recognized that the Gen 12 story in which God advises Abram that the mission of his tribe, Israel, was to change. No longer was the tribe to consider its primary mission to be self-preservation and, therefore, protectionist, but rather to "bless other tribes". This was HUGE! And assuredly risky. What would the tribe members say to Abram when he conveyed this "new kind of tribe" mission?

 

2. Re: "A New Kind of God" (Gen 22, the story of Abram's (almost) sacrifice of his son Isaac. Bell observes that most of us get lost in the horrificness of the very idea of God asking him to sacrifice his son. But Bell points out that in the context of the day the reader would not likely have been as horrified as we might think. (We'll keep coming back to the notion of "context" over the next several weeks.) But, rather, the reader (or listener since it's an orally conveyed story), would probably not have been shocked at all. Why? Because that's what you did for your God back then. If you wanted to be blessed -- whether for great crops or new children or whatever -- you gave a sacrifice. So, God asking Abram to sacrifice his son, although admittedly a bit out there, was probably not a shocker. After all, other tribes engaged in human sacrifice, didn't they? The real surprise would have been that God stopped the sacrifice of Isaac. Abram might have responded, "What?! You DON'T want me to offer Isaac?" This would have been the shocker. In fact, God said He didn't need a material sacrifice at all, but rather God wanted to provide for Abram and his tribe as a loving, all-caring God, not one that expected all kinds of material sacrifices. One member explained it this way. God (or rather our perception of God) changed from a God that expected material sacrifice to a God that asked us to sacrifice our will to Him. This is even HUGER!! In past readings of Gen 22, we should have put our Bibles down and asked "WHAT?!?" "Our God wants to provide for us as a loving God and wants to have a relationship with us. And to experience this lovingness our best path is to sacrifice our will to become His will. WHAT?!?"

 

3. Another of Bell's observations is that the modern reader (us) are most often horrified at all the violence in the OT -- the raidings of other tribes, the killings of survivors, even women & children. But Bell notes that violence was the way of the world at that time; the tribe's very survival depended upon it. What Bell says is the amazing part of the OT is all the stories of love and kindness and caring thrown in between all the violence. There are commandments to care for widows and feed the poor.

 

4. Another member observed that it took a long, long, long time for them to come to grips with this "New Kind of God" relationship. Just look at the many, many stories in the OT from Gen 22 and beyond that provides evidence that future generations kept reverting back to an understanding that God wanted material sacrifice.

 

There was much more in the lively discussion, but that's all I can remember. Feel free to provide your recollections, questions, or thoughts.

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  • Thank you Chip for this new forum and for all of the work you've done creating an exciting 7 week Adult Formation class. For everyone, here is a link to purchase the book that this course is based on: https://www.amazon.com/What-Bible-Ancient-Transform-Everything/dp/0062194267/ref=sr_1_1?crid=16TB9WVQIVI53&keywords=rob+bell+what+is+the+bible+book&qid=1549893113&s=gateway&sprefix=rob+bell%2Caps%2C146&sr=8-1
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