Welcome to Vacation Bible School — Summer, 2015

Welcome to Vacation Bible School — Summer, 2015 July 8, 2015

Editor’s Note: Vacation Bible School ain’t what it used to be – it’s online and it doesn’t stick to the old script.

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You can’t count on God and Jesus coming out looking like good guys and there might even be a bit of what a traditional VBS teacher would call “blasphemy.”   One thing you can count on is that we will not be telling ancient stories as if they are factual.   All the “lessons” come from contributors to the blog who were asked to choose among questions and issues that Catherine Dunphy put together. (Her graduate Jesuit education really came in handy!) We got a lot of good responses and you’ll be seeing them in the weeks to come. There’s still time to contribute, so please send your responses to doubtisrational (at) gmail (dot) come. Here are the questions that clergy contributors will be addressing:

1. Morality

1 Corinthians 15:32-34 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

32 If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
 for tomorrow we die.”

33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

34 Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Though many people think that morality comes from God, the Bible for the most part, it speaks very little about “morality” as we think of it and says nothing at all about the topic or even the word “ethics.”  “What!” you say, “I thought that was the very point of the “good book.”

When people talk about morality in the Bible, they very often think of the Ten Commandments, or the Beatitudes, which are both heavy on the side of worship, but less so on good action.

What type of morality do you think exists in the Bible and how do you think it relates (or not) to the current understanding of ethics, morality, social justice and human rights?

2. Sin, Sinner, Sinfulness 

The three “S’s” of the bible – a trinity of sorts that is utilized repetitively throughout the Old and New Testament.  Variations of the word Sin are found over 1,000 times in the Bible, when the word love is only mentioned about 600 times.   It seems Yahweh is preoccupied with offense.

Looking at Romans 1:26-28 [New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)] 26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done.

How do you think Christianity can reconcile homophobic scripture with universalism?  What’s your take on this re-visioning of Yahweh?

3. The Problem of Evil

What’s your favorite Christian Defense against the Problem of Evil?

4. “Sitz im Leben”  (Pick your own scripture)

Address the search for the historical Jesus:  Is Jesus still relevant or is has he been eclipsed by the Christ – the mythical gnostic figure that Christians really worship?  What’s your take on this dualism?

5. Embarrassment

The criterion of dissimilarity:  Do you have a favorite saying of Jesus that embarrassed his followers, if so, what is it and why do you find it embarrassing?

(e.g., When Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace but division)

6. Ancient Near Eastern Myths

What’s your favorite story and why? e.g., Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh.  Can you find parallels in the Bible?

**Editor’s Question** What to YOU have to say about one or more of the issues above? Either write about it in the comments below or send a short essay (500-1,000 words) to doubtisrational (at) gmail (dot) com as a submission for a blog post.

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  • robin

    5.) Luke 18:19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.

    • mason

      Sounds like a confession to me. Someone has been a very bad boy.

      Exploring deeper we then discover the grist for a novel. I always thought, when I was an Evangelical, that the Jesus character and the Devil were way too friendly and cozy in the Garden. Hmmmm.

      • Elizabeth.

        Hi mason! … is that the Garden of Eden? I’m not remembering a Jesus character there? or was the Devil in the Garden of Gethsemane? I’m not remembering that….? (& thanks for the take on being “given over” in Romans!)

        • mason

          Good editor “fact” checking work Elizabeth! Note the correction.

          • Elizabeth.

            Interesting again, mason! …never thought about this as a friendly-type hanging out. Long ago as an Evangelical, how would you have thought the story could have been described instead? Like, there should have been others involved too? or…? …intriguing!

          • mason

            When I quit being a gullible blind faith evangelical believer, and open my eyes and mind to see the bible stories for the mythology it was amazing to see what I’d been missing. Yes, their is a very strange “friendly-type hanging out aspect”, almost a good ol’ boy’s club situation with Lucifer and the Jesus character. Why would Jesus even go with Lucifer to a high place and consider the offer to get all the kingdoms of the world? These characters are more like political cronies in Wash DC talking about a deal than arch enemies.

          • Karen the rock whisperer

            I’ve read the bible a few times, and it seems to me that Satan is in charge of God’s Shitty Little Jobs Department. Torturing Job, tempting Jesus, poking about leading Christians into trouble so they can then repent and grow strong in their Lord… But there are many verses that, one way or another, declare God is actually in charge of everything. I suppose Satan has job security.

          • mason

            Very insightful Karen. It’s quite interesting what one starts seeing if they dare to read the bible and think simultaneously. 🙂

          • Cozmo the Magician

            I’m pretty sure that in xtian circles ‘thinking while reading the bible’ is very big sin.

          • Cozmo the Magician

            More like Clark Kent hanging with Lex Luthor. Hey supe my bud, can you PLEASE tell me color panties that babe is wearin cause i’m dying to know and you got that awesome sight thing.

    • Edward Evans

      Yes we are all evil ! That is what Christ called us, Luke 11:13. We who fight our evil lies, crucifying our vanity to walk in God’s truth, will have the victory in the resurrection, living in our new bodies of truth ! ! !

      • mason

        Hi evil Edward. Ever thought of working on your self esteem and your degrading thoughts about other humans? Probably not, that would be a lot of work. If you prefer to be evil Edward, so be it.

        • Edward Evans

          Jesus called us all evil, Luke 11:13, only God is good, Luke 18:19. Therefore I have rejected the evil of this world and received all of God’s good, Jesus Christ, that I may stand in Him. Whoever does not call the world evil is evil. The only good I know is God; all the world, men’s ways, do I call evil ! Stand with me and with God’s good, or stand with the wold and go to hell ! This warning given in love ! ! !

          • mason

            Your God is so puny it just takes one cogent thought to enter your mind and he will melt faster than the Wicked Witch of the West.

            PS 2-3 exclamation marks are an indication of cretinism. 🙂

          • Edward Evans

            God is not a man that he should repent; He took away Sodom and Gomorrah as He saw good. God can only do good; how can man, being evil, judge the perfect works of God ? God will destroy all the works of man, the elements shall melt with fervent heat. All the nations of the world shall submit to Him; at the end of time, those who have blessed His people shall be established. Those who condemned Israel will be destroyed and forgotten forever. We all have a choice, destroy ourselves, or submit to God’s perfect, loving will for our lives. Be a rebel and die, or receive God’s love, Jesus Christ, and live forever in His love ! ! !

        • Edward Evans

          Woe unto those who call good, those who trust in God, evil, those who speak the word of their father the devil ! I walk in Christ, not in the world. I am hated of all those who walk in vanity, the lies they tell themselves. I am clean before God, casting out all things that exalt themselves against the truth of God. Walk in the spirit and ye will not fulfill the lust of the flesh, Galatians 5:16. So walk I in Christ ! REPENT of what you have made yourselves and be filled with Christ and His Spirit ! ! !

          • mason

            that’s pathetic

          • Edward Evans

            I am a saint of God, one who has the mind of Christ, knowing truth, and not being deceived by lies ! Saints like myself will judge the world and angels, 1 Corinthians 6:2-3.
            You have no fear of God so you mock His saints; know this, all sinners will soon know the fear of the living God ! ! !

          • mason

            bring him on… I’ll kick his ass clear across the Cosmos

  • davewarnock

    1. Morality
    When Christians come with the argument that the Bible is the basis for morality, I simply counter with this: I can’t hear anything the Bible says about morality because of its utter silence concerning slavery.

    If there was a God laying out some ground rules for human behavior; thereby creating a system of morality- and he/she chose to ignore the concept of humans owning humans, then I have no use for him whatsoever. “Thou shalt not own another person as your property”. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

    There is simply no excuse for this. And the fact that I spent over 30 years in Christianity and never squarely addressed this is both baffling to me now…and more than a little embarrassing.

    • Edward Evans

      Your first statement is a lie ! God gave proper laws of how servants should be treated, check the Levitical law ! And second, you never read your bible ! Don’t speak lies to God to justify your sin, He was willing to supply all your needs, but you hate Him because you did not get out of Him what you wanted ! ! !

      • davewarnock

        1. I’ve read the Bible for 30 years and I know all the passages that give instructions on how to treat your slave.
        2. Calling them “servants” doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t have freedom. Calling slavery by other names doesn’t change what it is. It’s hideous.
        3. I didn’t speak “lies to God”. I didn’t say anything to God- I don’t make it a habit to speak to imaginary deities.
        4. I don’t “hate” him- because see #3
        5. Adding lots of !!! doesn’t make your statements more true.
        6. Maybe you should go troll somewhere else.

        • Edward Evans

          I am a prophet of God, slavery was invented by men, making their fellow man into less than animals ! You do not know the God of the bible, if you did you would not accuse Him of your failures ! Jesus Christ paid for us all on the cross, He owns you ! Time to get with the program and repent or burn ! This is reality, so wake up and REPENT ! Time is running out for this world so unless you want to die during the tribulation you had better get right with God ! This warning given in love !

          • mason

            Just fact checking for which God you’re currently contracted with as a prophet, that’s assuming you’re really a certified prophet.

            Is your deity the same one that helped David slice off 100 penis foreskins from Philistines so he could give them to King Saul as the price to marry his daughter?

          • davewarnock

            yeah ok. see ya

          • Edward Evans

            We know that no murder has eternal life ! David was a murderer, Moses was a murderer, and had a problem with anger ! The apostle Paul murdered Christians when he was named Saul. God forgave what they were, making them into what He wanted them to be ! So every sinner must repent of what they have made themselves and submit unto what God wants them to be according to the scriptures. One of the offices of the Church is a prophet, he who speaks with God’s voice, giving Him authority to control the man’s lips, something that no man can do by his own power. I am surrendered and submitted to speak what God wants, never rendering my own opinion.

          • Cozmo the Magician

            Oh look Fluffy, its another troll. Must be about lunch time. And flagged.

          • Edward Evans

            God gave the bible and promised that all who trust in Him will be happy, Proverbs 16:20 !
            I have no regrets and no worries in my life, I am happy with what little I have and am at peace !
            The wicked shake their fist at God saying, I have lied, stole, murdered, and coveted everything and still do not have what I want, God you are unjust ! How is your life ? Do you have the peace that only God can give you ? I have peace about the future, trusting that Jesus Christ will do what is needed in the life He has given me, He keeps me. This world is destroying itself and no man has the answer ! Only the Lord Jesus Christ will bring peace to this world and into every person’s heart that will receive Him ! ! !

          • Cozmo the Magician

            Jesus on a pogo stick. This troll is not just silly, it is also redundant. Sorry that Fluffy seems to have burped this one up again. WTF, at least it is kind of amusing. Hey Mr. EE Troll. Got any other trick you can do? How about vanish in a puff of smoke. PHHT. didn’t think so

          • Edward Evans

            I know that God did not get you what you wanted, that is why Christ changes your wanter when you receive Him. Some say that I am brain washed, to which I reply, yep, my brain has been washed clean of all the filth of the world and now I am acceptable to God. You can have this too, if you are brave enough, not fearing what the world may do to you. The world and its evil will be gone one day, but life in Christ is forever ! ! !

  • Elizabeth.

    2.
    Sin, Sinner, Sinfulness & Romans 1

    I love Wm Countryman’s observation [“Dirt, Greed, & Sex”] that, ironically, this is a rhetorical trap for readers of Jewish background, on the way to Paul’s argument that “there is no one righteous; no not one” [3:10]; but that “love is the fulfilling of the law” [13:10]; and we must “stop passing judgment on one another” [14:13] and instead respect one another’s consciences. Countryman points out that Paul doesn’t use his many terms for moral sin, but terms for uncleanness — “dishonor” and “shamelessness” – and that Paul was (in)famous for not holding Gentiles to traditional ceremonial purity standards. This is the only mention of females among the 6 passages (in the whole 2000-year writing of the bible) said to proscribe glbt relations: they act “against nature,” meaning “contrary to custom” in Paul’s day; and historically, “non-procreative sexuality.” Later in Romans, God too is said to act “against nature,” in grafting us Gentiles onto the root of Israel. (Freebie: Two of the six “clobber passages” rely on the word some think Paul may have coined but no one can yet find a definition of – literally, “man-bedder.” Very odd to think of lesbians as “man-bedders” : )

    There’s no doubt cultural tradition has been hugely anti-gay…. but the biblical arguments are extremely weak. E.g., if one applies the principle of scripture interpreting scripture, the 60-some accusations against Sodom from Genesis to Revelation include “grinding the face of the poor,” “arrogance,” etc. The lone mention of sexual sin is that of going after different flesh — the flesh of angels — “sarx *hetero*” [Jude v.7], with zero hint of “same” flesh, “sarx *homo*.” Sodom is about violence.

    I am so happy we are coming out of this tragedy… 2000 years late.

    • Linda_LaScola

      Thanks for the lesson, Elizabeth. I’d love to hear another — especially something you’re so obviously passionate about.

      • Elizabeth.

        Thanks, Linda! Guess it shows that I’ve been reading, writing, debating, and marching for close to 40 years on this issue…. Catherine hit my big passion button for sure. Sadly, it’s been very tough on relationships… hard to feel close to someone who honestly believes and promotes ideas that cause acute suffering, even death…. So I’m thankful the issue’s taken a decisive turn on many levels!!

        Other issues, I have ideas about, but haven’t explored as extensively… looking forward to VBS!

    • davewarnock

      yes. and the phrasing about “nature” was also used concerning men with long hair.

      • Elizabeth.

        Yes… “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” [1 Cor.11.14] … A few portraits of Jesus may have to be revised…. : ) ….or maybe “long” meant waist long?

  • mason

    Our VBS Lesson today kids is -You can’t always say- ,…”the Devil made me do it.”

    Our scripture is,
    For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions. Romans 1:26

    We can’t ever really know what and how God thinks or what he’s going to do moment by moment. He always keeps us on our toes, or our knees; it’s all part of the thrill and excitement of being a believer. But there are clues about God’s behavior if we read his holy word carefully.

    One thing for sure, our God has a temper and frequently brags about his fierce wrath. You know, like our lesson last week how he killed all the humans on Earth because they wouldn’t go on Noah’s Cruise ship. Well sometimes when you, or I, are doing something really bad, like indulging in degrading passions like drugs, sex, rock & roll or having carnal relations with Pastor Righteous Face, it isn’t the Devil that made us do it, it’s God!

    Yes, when God gets really pissed at us he just turns us over to degrading passions. And you may ask, and rightly so, “Why the hell would God do that?” Well kids, the answer is in his holy word which tells us over and over how God loves to punish sinners for their sin. So if we really go hog wild into sin, thanks to God giving us a good push over into degrading passions, then God gets to punish us double for our trouble! It’s a win win for God and we receive the punishment we masochistic believers crave. Isn’t God wonderful!

    So remember Kids…. to think, meditate, and pray earnestly before you decide to give the credit for your passionate degrading sins. Sometimes it’s our all wise, all knowing God who in his infinite wisdom is showing the Devil how to really lead us into temptation. .

    • Linda_LaScola

      Fascinating perspective on God’s motives, Mason

      • mason

        Yeah trying to figure God’s motives is challenging. Ya think he’s going right and he goes left, think he’s happy with a vegetable sacrifice and he yells for flesh & blood, he seems fatherly and nurturing and zappo he exterminates all the firstborn. I suppose it’s not impossible God has some form of hormonal imbalance. Stranger things have happened. You wouldn’t think he would be whipped out after creating heaven and earth and the stars in six days, but by golly there he was on that seventh day exhausted, dehydrated, suffering from very painful swollen emerods, and short of breath.

        I should add that Noah was quite relieved that only a few family members went on the cruise, because building just the one ship ruined his lumbar spine (and this is pre-chiropractor era) and made him prematurely grey. Building more ships would have been an impossible project, unlike flooding the entire planet.

        Kids love the stories they learn in VBS.

  • Edward Evans

    Here is the Shocker ! It is the responsibility of law makers
    to legislate morality !

    Morality: the laws,
    internal or external that govern the limits of our actions !

    The bible, not just the Ten Commandments, give specific laws
    on how to deal with those around us. Another shocker, we are born with the law
    of God programmed into our DNA ! When we hear lies that contradict our internal
    laws, it bothers our conscience, therefore to break those laws me must cover
    them up with our vanity, the lies we tell ourselves ! If people preach the
    truth to a sinner, he has a decision to make, submit to God’s law or defend his
    lies ! If the bible was written by men, then why do they not agree with it, as
    they do with all other lies of men ? Because the truth of the Word of God,
    KJV1611 to the English speaking of the world, pricks their conscience that they
    have tried to cover up with their vanities ! Our Founding Father knew the
    truth, that the Word of God was the only pure law on the planet, holding men
    responsible as stewards of our world, and women needing to always be under
    authority for their own protection ! The bible is always right and humans are
    always wrong ! Submit to the law of God, or burn forever in the lake of fire
    for your lies. You have received your warning in love ! ! !

    • Linda_LaScola

      Edward, you are a parody of a Christian who gives people loving warnings they they are destined for hell.

      Please tell us that you’re kidding.

      • robin
        • Cozmo the Magician

          If it is poe it is damn good. The ‘! ! !’ is either a give away, or the sure sign of somebody that could use some help.

      • Edward Evans

        I walk with God, I have nothing but Him. I am happy every day whether I get what I want or not because I know that I am in His loving will. God is a loving Father, not wanting anyone to go to hell; He has given us His best, the Lord Jesus Christ, so we may receive all the goodness He desires to give us. Most people are insane, not wanting what is best for them, but what will destroy them. I have experienced God’s best, and never want to go back to being average, settling for less than God’s perfect will. Choose heaven, not hell, submit to God’s best, or suffer eternally for your hatred and rebellion against God’s love ! ! !

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Well , nice to know you are happy in your universe. Just please stop telling me and others how we should conform to your beliefs. See, there IS this thing called free will. So claiming that I must conform to your beliefs or suffer is rather egotistical and not very nice.

    • mason

      Here’s a Shocker self proclaimed “Evil” Edward…you have scored 10 out of 10 on the Theological Sociopath Psychological Assessment Test.. Congratulations!

  • Applestar

    I never realised that BS required quite so many exclamation marks!!!