What does the Bible really say?

The Church in the 19th century engaged an important debate.  That is, it was important to them.  The debate revolved around a literal reading of scripture that said human waste should be far from where the people worshipped, and the advent of indoor plumbing meant churches had to decide whether or not it was biblical to have a toilet inside the church building.  

What is Scripture?
"Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us."  2 Timothy 3:16-17 (MSG)

In Jan-Feb. 2020, we taught a series called "Lost in Translation(s)."  You can read a summary of that series on the UPPC Blog, HERE, as well as entries for each week of the series (scroll down and click "Older" until you see entries for that series.)  

Seven imperatives when reading the Bible 
1) The Bible isn't God.  The idolatry of the Bible is called "bibliolatry."  We do not ascribe lordship to the Bible, inspired though we believe it to be.  It remains secondary to the Holy Spirit who inspired it.  
2) The Bible is inspired with purpose.  "...training to live God's way."
3) The whole story arc of scripture is one of love and shalom.  We limit our understanding when we separate the Word of God from the heart of God to restore and reconcile the brokenness of our world.  1 John tells us that anyone who loves God must love others.
4) The Bible was written in a time and context that is not ours.  We do the Bible a disservice when we remove it from its milieu, both a disservice to its original audience and to those who have interpreted it throughout history, including ourselves.
5) The Bible wasn't written in English.  The reason we train pastors and Bible teachers in Koine Greek and Hebrew, along with the use of the tools of scholarship, is so they can help the Church understand the meaning of scripture.
6) We all bring our baggage to reading the Bible.  Pastor Aaron observed that his worldview is guided by the fact that he is white (Caucasian), male, educated, heterosexual, and other phenomena that shape how he sees scripture.  And each of us has a limited worldview as well.  
7) All scripture must be interpreted through the life and witness of Jesus Christ.  If a particular passage does not harmonize with the life and witness of Jesus, it must yield to him.  Jesus is God's Word in the flesh, our Master and Savior, and the fulfillment of Torah (the Old Testament Law).

1 Corinthians 6:7-11 
When we widen the lens of this passage and see beyond just the list of sins, we see the context is one of conflict amongst people of God, and not a general list of sins.  Moreover, Paul qualifies that even those guilty of such sins are forgiven and reborn in Christ.

There is one word in Greek translated "men who have sex with men" -- arsenokoitai.  While this reflects the most basic, denotative meaning of the word, there is a broader contextual meaning we must consider.  For example, the English word "quarterback" has for over 100 years implied a male, but in a very specific setting and role.  This is similar to this Greek word arsenokoitai.  It refers to males, but in this case the specific setting is one of pederasty.  Many scholars cross reference how first century historian Josephus used the same word.  This unequal and harmful relationship is most likely what Paul is including in his famous list of sins in this passage.

Here's the point: when we read scripture, we must do the hard work of understanding the heart of God as it was revealed in particular times, places, and circumstances, in order to understand the heart of God in our setting.  Throughout the process, we submit our own hearts and minds to the lordship of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration and renewal of every man, woman, child and creation in God's world.

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