Scripture Reading for May 8, 2011

Timothy II 3: 10-17

Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and my suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is* useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.



While it is unclear whether the Apostle Paul actually wrote the Letters to Timothy in the New Testament (the vocabulary and syntax are very different from Paul’s), in any case, the letters purport to be from the elder missionary (Paul) to his young protege (Timothy). They are full of practical advice and admonitions. Timothy’s father was Jewish, and his mother was a Greek who had converted to Christianity. So, Timothy had learned of the Christian faith from his mother. Paul refers to this in today’s passage (“. . . continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from who you learned it . .. “). This passage speaks of the importance of the Scriptures which makes it an appropriate reading for this Sunday when, at Plymouth, we will give Bibles to our second graders. Some questions:

  • Where and from whom did you learn the Bible stories?
  • What role does the Bible play in your life today?
  • Is the Bible the “Word of God?” If so, in what way is that true?

In this space, I invite any reflections or stories you have about the Bible, what it means to you, and the role it plays at Plymouth Church.

Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian
Senior Minister

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5 Responses to Scripture Reading for May 8, 2011

  1. says:

    At 15 I first attended Sunday School and church. At the start of Sunday School, the teacher would give a chapter and versa and name the book of the Bible, the first person to find the right verse would jump up and quickly read the verse. No one paid attention. All closed their Bibles and waited for the next verse. When the minister’s daughter got a new indexed Bible and started to move closer to first place (scores were kept for each Sunday and total) the complaints led to indexed Bibles being banned. This ritual was called “sword drills.”

    the Bible can be used in many ways

  2. Jessica Frehse says:

    I grew up in a baptist church that takes a very fundamentalist view of the bible and I am happy to have that foundation as I take my own journey to Christ. Recently I went back to that church and listened as the minister tried to use science to explain that the creation story of the bible as a scientific reality. While i understood theri desire to hold fast to each word of the bible it felt like such a stretch.
    Today i see the bible as a base that I am glad to have, but I feel that it should not be taken literally word for word. I sort of think of it like grammar: I am glad to have been taught the strict rules so that I have a solid understanding of my language. But when I write or speak I don’t use the strictest of rules because it wouldn’t fit with me or with the world as it is today.

  3. My Catholic childhood did not involve Bible studies. The stories and images and lessons came more roundaboutly through priests’ homilies, which came up short in their relevance. If I looked to the Bible for a role model, I would never have realized I’m gay. In some ways, I’ve missed out and in others I’ve remained a clean slate–free to find other ways of knowing what I know and that, in itself, is a thing of God.
    Laurie Casagrande

  4. Don M. Burrows says:

    Like most people, I first heard Bible stories in Sunday school, often printed and illustrated on newsprint by some publishing house whose aim was to (sometimes radically) reconfigure Biblical tales to suit young eyes. Sometimes this served to change the text (or at least the impression of it) radically. I still remember how shocked I was in later years when I read the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel for myself, and learned that the true confusion between the two brides-to-be happened not at the altar as the result of some veil, as it is usually recounted and illustrated (indeed, I find no veil in the story at all, so it must be an external extrapolation, but I would welcome anyone who can correct me on that), but the “morning after,” as it were (Gen. 29:23).

    Through the various churches I have attended over the years, I have noticed this penchant for sanitizing what is in the Bible to avoid the tough (or even not-so-tough) ambiguities that can come with it, but Plymouth has always felt to me an open environment where wrestling with the text is welcome. I read and study the Bible alongside other ancient texts as part of my career (classical studies), and so in both professional and personal capacities, I enjoy rereading the Bible to have more moments like that above, where putting aside my assumptions allows the text to shock and surprise me.

    Is it the Word of God? Language is finite, imprecise, and messy, so unless one wants to suggest the same about God, I find the coupling of the Bible and God, prevalent in so many churches, troubling. However, I think it is indisputable (except by rank polemicists) that the Bible, like many other great works of literature, contains great insights and truths about the human condition. It also serves as a paradigm in our culture that allows for contemporary debates to be illuminated by parable via its stories, whether one considers them history or myth. If one needs religious language to make this point, I would say that if God is the transcendent being that theologians of so many stripes suggest that he is, the thousand or so pages in the Bible would seem like a paltry start toward understanding him. But it is a great tool for understanding ourselves, which, if we are indeed made in his image, would seem like a good start.

  5. Charles Matson Lume says:

    Living in a culture that biases analytic reasoning and linguistics, I try to balance that bias by paying closer attention to oral and sensory traditions. Our senses can be sources of knowledge. We can know the world, and God, through our bodies. Currently, I value this methodology over the Bible.

    I am grateful for the knowledge and well being I have acquired by reading the Bible. But frankly, I believe the made world is more remarkable than the Bible. Blasphemy.

    Nonetheless, I believe children should have a Bible, and that it is read within the community of believers. The benefits are too many to count. But knowing our bodies and celebrating our senses needs more consideration. I think we literally diminish creation, and thus God, by our lack of awareness.

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