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.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Reading Genesis

If you haven't read Genesis, the first book of the Bible, in a while, I would recommend that you do. It is really some very good reading, and surprisingly strange at times too. Of course, we need to remember we are reading a book which was collected a written down long ago. It may not have reached its final form until 500 or 600 years before Christ was born, but the oral traditions and most likely scribal scrolls containing this story and that were surely passed down for centuries before that.

A couple of things I have noticed in this reading of Genesis (I have just finished chapter 21) are: 1) That God is presented as being wary of the power of human beings; and 2) there is little logical consistency with regard to commands and punishments. Right after the humans eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they are cast out of the garden for the expressed reason that they might become like us (God - notice the plural?) and then eat from the fruit of the tree of life and live forever. Later, in the section on the Tower of Babel, it is said that human beings had one language but few words, and that humans had banded together and decided to make a name for themselves on earth and build a tower to the heavens. Again, God is presented as worrying over the power of human beings, and so God is said to have confused their language so they could unite and grow in their pride as human beings.

And, then there is the issue of commands given, disobedience and punishments. God is to have said: "if you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will die that very day." However, when the humans eat of it, they don't die,but do get kicked out of the garden of Eden, but God also makes for them clothes of animal skins. And, even though it says in Genesis that the one who kills shall be killed, when Cain kills Able, God calls him to account, but God does not kill Cain, but actually protects him from being killed.

And, on the issue of clothes, it is said in Genesis that the first humans, the man and the woman, were without clothes and not ashamed. But, then, after they disobeyed God, they came to realize for the first time that they were naked, and were ashamed. In our Bible Study on December 30, I referred to the writings of St. Irenaeus. Iraneaus of Lyon, lived around 150 A.D., and spoke of Adam and Eve as if they were quite immature at the point the serpent beguiled them. Irenaeus believed that God was bringing the humans along so that they would learn to stand more on their own, but tragically, they were tempted before they had arrived at maturity.

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