The Jesus Criterion #12 – Studying the Bible 101

By Steve Flowers

In high school I had good grades and did well academically. In college I, well, let’s just say the academics, not so good. The difference? It was not my study habits. They were essentially the same… and therein laid the problem. At a high school level I was able to overcome poor study habits and still make good grades. College was more difficult and required a higher degree of study but I continued to give it the ol’ high-school try. Two years after graduating college and working in the real world, I went to seminary full-time. I had matured (a bit) and was expecting seminary to be more difficult than college. So I improved my study habits and, in turn, my grades improved as well. Similarly, good biblical interpretation begins with your study habits.

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Podcast Episode #6 – Love Found Me

Where do we turn in our darkest moments? In this episode, Ivy talks with Aimee about how she turned to God for help, even when she wasn’t certain she belonged in church. Aimee talks openly about the long road to finding safety and acceptance after a turbulent childhood and unhappy marriage, the things she still struggles with spiritually, and how becoming a mother solidified her belief in God.

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The Jesus Criterion #10 – And the 66 winners are…

By Steve Flowers 

There is only one passage in the entire New Testament that references other books later canonized into our New Testament as already considered to be inspired scripture. The writer of 2 Peter refers to the letters “Paul wrote” as “other scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15b-16). 2 Peter was written around 90-110 C.E., approximately 30-40 years after Paul wrote the last of his letters. By this time, copies of Paul’s letters were being passed from house church to house church to be read as part of worship. Looked at from our current perspective where we have had the books of our Bible settled for some 1,600 years, this point may only evoke a polite nod. But how did the church of 2 Peter come to view Paul’s letters as being inspired? That is the question we want to ask this post.

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The Jesus Criterion #9 – And here’s what the Bible reveals…

By Steve Flowers 

Negotiators talk with subjects during crisis events with the goal of having the subject release their hostage, not commit suicide, or surrender peacefully from a barricaded position. If you have ever seen a movie or TV show that showed such a crisis, you might be led to believe the most important part of being a negotiator is knowing really insightful things to say that will fix their problems and convince the subject to end the crisis. But such crises require just the opposite. Trained law enforcement negotiators know it is active listening skills which lead to asking the subject the right questions that will be the greatest foundation to resolving the crisis safely for everyone.

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Podcast Episode #5 – Who I Am Called To Be

In this episode, Ivy talks to Leo, a self-described “spiritual seeker.” Leo is a gay man who came of age in the 1960s. While he wondered if he would ever find acceptance in the Catholic church, he says he never doubted the love of God. He talks about how his spirituality has served as an important touchstone throughout his life and in his relationship with his husband of 36 years.

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The Jesus Criterion #8 – Authority of scripture is not a four-letter word

by Steve Flowers 

When the Early Church finalized the canon of scripture in the 4th century (i.e., identifying which books were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit), they were in essence pronouncing the list of books that were to be authoritative for the Church and in our lives. The final challenge to a healthy view of biblical inspiration we will examine is learning how to properly embrace the authority of scripture.

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The Jesus Criterion #7 – Inspiration is like a bank robbery

by Steve Flowers

The previous posts showed the need to embrace a messy Bible, including its flaws, as a way to let go of our need for an orderly Bible. Clinging to an orderly Bible hinders how we need to differentiate between revelation and inspiration. And if you thought that was hard, well, sorry but that was only the unwinding-your-brain prerequisite so you would be prepared for the next challenge inspiration brings— to view it like a bank robbery…

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Podcast: Episode 4 – Seeking a resurrected life

In this episode of Stories from a Village, Ivy talks to Stacey, a life-long Christian raised in the United Methodist Church. Stacey reflects on the positive experiences she’s had in her church community and the strong Christian women who shaped her. But Ivy and Stacey also wrestle with some of the hard parts of being Christian, such as reconciling the existence of suffering with their religious beliefs. This episode was recorded in the fall of 2017.

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The Jesus Criterion #6 – To err is human

by Steve Flowers

In the previous post we continued our look at some of the complex and challenging aspects of biblical inspiration, noting its greatest challenge is differentiating revelation and inspiration to the point that we learn to accept the Bible is a holy mess. This post we focus on the resultant view when one defines inspiration as likened to revelation— the inerrancy of scripture.

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