Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sun. Oct. 21 (Henry Neufeld)

Henry Neufeld began his talk by noting that when Paul told Timothy "All scripture is inspired by God", Paul was thinking only of the Old Testament works as being scripture, for the Christian canon (including his letters) would not be formed and agreed upon for another three centuries. Christians first needed to sift through numerous "gospels", "Acts" and letters, determining which were forgeries, which were misleading, and which were uniformly valid. The Anabaptist tradition is that the community of faith continually tests both scriptures and what is said about them, and this was in keeping with what the early Christian communities did. Until recently, believers encouraged a remarkably wide variety of allegorical interpretations of scriptures, for the tyranny of fundamentalism is a relatively recent phenomenon. Henry also stressed that reading several verses or even a chapter of scripture silently, in isolation, can cause us to miss hearing the texts in context-as vast sweeping texts about life rather than as legalistic points of law. Jesus orally reinterpreted, and some would argue even rewrote scripture ("You have heard it said . . . but I say unto you . . . .) Jesus wanted believers to get past scripture wars, and the first Christians sometimes succeeded (e.g., when deciding to set aside circumcision and dietary texts and laws). By contrast, modern Christians have been tempted by the idolatry of legalistic interpretations of isolated verses (in translation and out of context). It is therefore useful for us to remember that Paul's first letter to Timothy urged that all teachings should agree with the sound instructions of Jesus Christ. [JEK] Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday Oct. 21st using your browser's preferred media player.



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