Ending One Bible Study, Starting Another

My church did not have its Bible study last night.  My pastor and his wife are away, plus we just got finished with the twelve-week curriculum on the Book to Romans.  Next week, we’ll be starting an eight week curriculum on the Gospel of John.

Ordinarily, we have more time in between Bible studies.  We have a winter Bible study, and we have a spring Bible study, and there are weeks in between the two.  This time is different, however, and the reason is probably that our study on Romans was so long—-it lasted twelve weeks!  That meant that it started in the winter and lasted through the spring.  I joked that winter was staying with us even during the spring in honor of our winter Bible study—-a reference to the cold and the snow that we recently had this spring.

Someone in the group remarked that the John Bible study is not as controversial as the Romans one.  She herself is going through the John Bible study someplace else—-in a group that she’s a part of.  Her statement on the Romans Bible study being controversial interested me.  Looking at the curriculum itself, it’s not that controversial.  It didn’t get into what Romans 1 said about homosexuality.  A lot of its focus was on peace and love, which aren’t overly controversial concepts.  I got a little sick when I read a line from the booklet recommending that we pray for the Jewish people’s salvation, but we didn’t read that line—-and I don’t think it’s because the group is liberal, per se, but rather because we just did not get to it.

What was controversial about our Romans Bible study, then?  I think that the discussions could get pretty controversial.  I’m afraid that some of what I said in the group may have influenced people to think that I am not a Christian.  Some probably think that I’m a believer who has his doubts, like Rachel Held Evans and many of the people who comment on her blog (not that I’m aware of how familiar the people in the group are with Rachel and her books).  I think there is a part of me that is open to hearing people address my questions—–to learning rather than talking—-which would mean that I am a doubter who just wants to learn.  But there is also a part of me that is quite hostile to evangelicalism, its doctrines, and the way that its sub-culture is, in general.  Does that make me a doubter, or something more?  In any case, it could be difficult sitting through a Bible study where people wonder if I’m even a believer!

But I’ll go to the next one!  I have learned quite a bit from these studies.  Blogging through them particularly helps me.  I am somewhat concerned that the Gospel of John will be controversial itself, at least for me.  John’s Gospel, after all, talks about Jesus being the only way, and it characterizes non-believers as condemned, as hostile to truth, as people who just don’t get it.  I wonder what makes Christians think that they’re better than others!

In any case, stay tuned for my blog posts on our John Bible study!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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