Anyone who says that the Bible is straightforward and simple hasn’t read it. Anyone who says scripture speaks plainly to the issues and challenges and questions we have today probably doesn’t take seriously the conflicting passages, the pre-scientific understanding of our world, and the different cultural influences at work in the times and places of the writing of the sacred text. Having a lens, or a way of reading scripture, is not optional. Everybody has one.
The question is the effectiveness of that lens or way of reading scripture.
This Sunday is the final sermon in my series, The United Methodist Way, and my topic will be “A Way of Understanding Scripture.” Four decades ago, United Methodist Theologian and Wesley Scholar, Dr. Albert Outler, summarized for us the way in which John Wesley approached theological questions and how that has informed the way we, as United Methodists, approach this theological task in our time. He developed what he called “the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.” He said that we have four ways of approaching any theological question: scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. He put it this way: “Wesley believed that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason.”
So, as we approach a question, scripture is the primary source and norm for our understanding. Yet, as we all know, scripture requires not only translation from the original languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, but it requires interpretation. Tradition, experience, and reason are the means by which we interpret scripture. We will take a look at these briefly on Sunday as we wrap up this series.
This Sunday is also the culmination of our stewardship emphasis. I want to remind you about the importance of giving and the need to make a commitment, a pledge of what you intend to give to the church for our ministries and operations in 2016. If you have not already done so, please consider and pray about your giving to the church, and be prepared on Sunday to turn in your card indicating your intentions. This is both a ritual of making a stewardship commitment as part of worship and a practical way of helping our church’s finance committee plan for funding our ministries in the current year. You may also click here to make your commitment online. Or, if you’d prefer to print out a pledge card at home, click here to download a PDF.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,