Living the Questions Bible Study

An Invitation to Journey - Lesson 1

People know that at its core, Christianity has something good to offer the human race. At the same time, many have a sense that they are alone in being a “thinking” Christian and that “salvaging” Christianity is a hopeless task. What many have longed for is a safe environment where they have permission to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask but have been afraid to voice for fear of being thought a heretic. Living the Questions provides a context where people can be liberated from stagnant clichés and pursue their questions and seek to inform their understanding as part of a life-long spiritual journey. Through exposure to provocative theological and spiritual insights and the engagement of small group conversation, participants in Living the Questions will experience how profoundly important the journey itself is.

Taking the Bible Seriously - Lesson 2

Its influence has been recognized for centuries. It has been quoted and misquoted, used and abused, appealed to and discredited. While American Presidents quote "a house divided against itself cannot stand" and "from those to whom much is given, much is required,” Biblical texts have also been used to oppress women, support slavery, justify wars, and today, bolster White Supremacy and other discriminatory movements. Preachers try to bring the text alive, classes and small groups provide vital places of discovery. Personal study allows the Bible to speak to an individual’s situation. But what is it exactly that we’re looking for? The Bible is so big, so intimidating, it’s difficult to know where to start. It’s hard to know what to believe or what not to believe…

Thinking Theologically - Lesson 3

Alice Walker's The Color Purple is an account of a journey of faith. The sojourner, named Celie, discovers new ways of understanding religion and of imaging the Divine. In one of her letters to a friend, Celie writes, "She say, ‘My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being a part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed.’" To ask the questions of how the divine is intertwined with the world is to think theologically: How do we understand the unfathomable mystery that we've come to call God? Is there a God whose character and ways of relating to the world can be explained in ways that make sense? As Bill Nelson has suggested, even the word “God” itself is a “very slender word that simply covers our shivering ignorance.” Exploring these and other questions and concepts are at the heart of thinking theologically – a practice in which we all engage, whether we know it or not.

Stories of Creation - Lesson 4

The ancient Hebrews who composed what we now know as Genesis were brilliant storytellers – and although their writings have for generations been thought to explain the “how” of what happened historically, their stories are much deeper and richer when they are properly understood metaphorically as wrestling with the “whys” of human life. When we delve into these ancient stories, we catch a glimpse of the answer to the eternal question, “What’s the meaning of life?” We are reminded that we are made in the image of the Divine – the one who brings order out of chaos and finds joy in the act of creating.

Lives of Jesus - Lesson 5

From the Gospels to illustrated Bible storybooks to portrayals in film, Jesus has been the subject of considerable “spin” over the ages. Each tradition and each individual puts their own emphasis on this remarkable figure. For many middleclass Americans, the ideal Jesus is the gentle, upstanding, right-thinking (and often somewhat androgynous) suburbanite with good posture. The notion that Jesus might have been a short, dark, Middle-Eastern peasant rabble-rouser is so far from many people’s capacity to comprehend, that all reason is rejected in favor of the gauzy Aryan visions of early childhood. A blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus, meek and mild, is such a stalwart icon of Western culture, that to suggest anything contrary or corrective to that image is tantamount to heresy.

A Passion for Christ: Paul - Lesson 6

Perhaps no single person is more responsible for the existence of Christianity as we know it today than that balding preacher from Tarsus whom we know as Paul. Idolized by some as the conduit through which God dictated an eternal and unchanging moral code and discredited by others as a misogynist crank, Paul is without question one of the most controversial figures in the history of Christianity. But one thing can’t be questioned: his passion for Christ and his apparent willingness to risk life and limb in propagating his interpretation of Christ’s message and purpose. As very little, if any, of what most people think of as Christianity has been untouched by the influence of this itinerant tentmaker, a thorough examination of the changing understandings and significance of Paul’s writings and ideas is critical to a faithful expression of Christianity today.

Out into the World - Lession 7

There is a reformation afoot in Christianity – a re-visioning of the traditional understandings of Jesus, the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, and the Christian life as a whole. Long held ideas of divinity and of faith are changing and evolving to reflect 21st century thought and spirituality. Inspired by these fresh insights, progressive Christians can claim a distinctive voice by being in solidarity with the poor, countering the idolatry of wealth, practicing nonviolence, and by seeking justice and inclusivity in a culture dominated by fear

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