Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thinking about the Bible

Scripture: Can we really separate the wheat from the chaff?

I have been "getting back to the Bible" lately in reading sections of scripture I had not read in years, and even focusing on parts of scripture that seem to have no redeeming value. I have to admit that I was more able to read it all, reconcile or explain its strange parts, when I was in my 20's than I am when I am nearing 50.

And, I am starting, for the first time in my life to have some real sympathy for Marcion, the 2nd century heretic who tossed out the majority of scripture and only kept the parts he felt really came from the Spirit of God. But, once you do something like that you have become the authority, so I certainly am not attracted to the way of Marcion. Especially since he ended up tossing out some of the best of scripture by throwing out the whole Old Testament! And, he carved up our New Testament books pretty thoroughly as well. He loved the Gospel of John and his version of Paul's letters.

I am also reminded of Thomas Jefferson who cut out the parts of the New Testament he didn't like and had a cut and paste version of the New Testament to guide him.

So, here I am, a Protestant, following in the path of Luther, and somehow continuing to affirm that we are better off standing under the authority of scripture than we are standing under the authority of Bishops. Well,I guess I am following in the path of Luther, though the traditional Quaker way continues to make more and more sense to me. The early Quakers, starting with George Fox, immersed themselves in scripture reading, but always affirmed that scripture is a dead letter unless illuminated by the Spirit of God in the reader's/hearer's heart. Without an experience of God that illuminates the vital core of scripture, I don't see how anyone can make good sense of it either. And, yes, when that illumination is there, a person can begin to understand that the wheat and the chaff are bound together, indissolubly. And, you can't separate the wheat from the chaff; you can only take them together and wait on the hidden presence of God to be revealed. Marcion and Thomas Jefferson took it upon themselves to separate the wheat from the chaff. And, they ended up with a Bible that doesn't track reality. The Bible we have in the Church reflects reality in all its brokenness and incomprehensibility. But, it doesn't just reflect on the darkness of reality. It also reflects the mysterious presence of One who created and sustains and works in the hiddenness to redeem reality. But, finding that presence in the Holy Scripture is not like finding your parents in a photo album. God never stopped for any photo shoots, not even in the life and death of Jesus.

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