Last Sunday I began a series of sermons on the Good News of Jesus Christ. In that sermon I referred to a book written by Brian McLaren titled “A New Kind of Christianity.” In that book, he asks the question, “What is the overarching story line of the Bible?” Most of us have been taught what he calls the “six-line” story of salvation: that humans are fallen and sinful because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, and if we die in this state, we are condemned to eternal punishment. But Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and save us from condemnation, and if we will just believe, we will gain admission into heaven.
You all had a chance to ask me questions during the month of July. Now it is my turn! What is the core message of the Bible? What is the good news of Jesus Christ? What have you been taught?
Brian McLaren is a progressive Christian thinker and writer who grew up in an Evangelical Christian background, but who came to question much of what he had been taught about Christian belief and practice. In his book, “A New Kind of Christianity,” (2010) McLaren asks “What is the overarching story line of the Bible?” He claims that the basic story we have been taught for centuries can be diagrammed with six lines:
June 24, 2018 (Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time) WHY ARE YOU AFRAID?
About 35 years ago, I was not a pastor. I was a normal person – a graduate student at the University of Colorado in Boulder. While we lived there, we joined a church – First Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ. Being a part of a church was still new for me, as was trying to understand what it meant to be a Christian. The Bible was very much a mystery to me. So I took an adult education class at the church on the Bible. It was taught by a retired Professor of Philosophy and Religion, who had once been a pastor himself for a while. Nora and Jan Smith knew him well. He was brilliant – it was sometimes hard for me to follow what he was talking about. But I do remember us reading and trying to understand this story of Jesus calming the storm. And I remember a comment he made, in reflecting on Jesus’ words to his disciples after he calmed the storm: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Emerson Shideler observed, “The opposite of faith is not doubt; the opposite of faith is fear.”