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Reading the Bible for all the Wrong Reasons

By Russell Pregeant

Publication Year: 2011

The Bible can be hazardous to one's health if read with faulty expectations. Writing with compassion and wit, Russell Pregeant shows that reading "without interpretation" is impossible. The right question is which assumptions are appropriate. He addresses the most common and most harmful assumptions about the Bible, beginning with the expectation that it will always "speak" as directly and immediately as a fortune cookie. He moves on to address biblical authority, the Bible and science, "last days" prophecies, and the Bible as rulebook and guide to beliefs. Pregeant insists that we take responsibility for what we do with this powerful book.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. viii-9

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I am especially grateful to the following members of Contoocook United Methodist Church, Contoocook, New Hampshire, who were “faithful to the end” in a seven-session Bible study based on the first draft of this book: Tom Andrew, Jane Britain, Tim Britain, Lucy Gaskell, Al Gibbs, Betsy Gibbs, Dawn Howe, Jim Howe, Don King, Katie Martel, Bruce Metzger, Dale Roberts, Fred Roberts, and Terri Stafford. I also ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Is the theory of evolution compatible with biblical faith? Are the Bible’s views on same-sex relations, divorce, and the status and role of women relevant to life today? Does the Bible predict the “end of the world”? And what should we make of its statements on poverty and riches, government, and war and peace? These are questions that many contemporary Christians ask when they approach the biblical writings. ...

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Chapter 1: More than a Fortune Cookie

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pp. 9-20

How do you read the Bible? Many people read it as a source of strength in times of personal crises or more broadly as a resource for personal devotions. These are legitimate practices with which I have no quarrel. Sometimes, however, the search for help with personal prob-lems leads people to treat the Bible as nothing more than a reservoir of personal advice: “Can you show me a passage in the Bible to convince ...

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Chapter 2: Neither Fact Book nor Catechism

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pp. 21-34

Bible class was quoting her husband, a serious student of the Bible, who had passed away a few years earlier. The lesson for this particular Sun-day involved an issue on which the Bible is quite ambiguous. So with an impish smile, the woman remarked, “This is the problem my husband always had with the Bible. Why does it have to be so complicated? Why ...

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Chapter 3: Neither Science nor Anti-Science

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pp. 35-50

The young man was clearly agitated, but he continued to partici-pate in the discussion. He was one of several teenagers gathered around the speaker after a presentation on evolution and Christian faith at a youth conference. I was pleased that the speaker did not approach the question as a matter of either/or, forcing the issue into a simple choice between acceptance or rejection of the theory of evolution. He ...

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Chapter 4: Neither Crystal Ball nor Horror Show

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pp. 51-62

...driver.” So reads a popular bumper sticker. The reference is to a doctrine popularized by media evangelists and books such as Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Bedeviled by this doctrine, a ten-year-old boy panics when he comes home from school to find no one there. He ...

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Chapter 5: Neither Rigid Rules nor Billy Club

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pp. 63-84

The woman in the pastor’s office sobbed as she told her story. This was not the first time she had consulted a minister. After suffer-ing extreme abuse in her marriage for years, she had eventually sought advice from the pastor of her church. He had told her to stay with her husband, because the Bible demanded it. The clergywoman now hearing her story didn’t know whether to be more outraged at the hus-...

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Chapter 6: The Bible and Our Beliefs

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pp. 85-102

So far, I have focused on what I consider misuses of the Bible, although I have tried to indicate some better approaches. In this chapter and the next, I will continue to identify ways of reading the Bible that I find inadequate, but my major concern will be to show how the Bible can help Christians in particular think through their beliefs When I was in high school, two teenage boys I knew were fishing from ...

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Chapter 7: Life in the Spirit

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pp. 103-128

...“Follow me,” said Jesus. The man seemed willing but asked one thing: “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus’ reply, however, was blunt: “Let the dead bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60). In ancient Jewish society, the burial of one’s parents was a sacred obligation. In denying this request, Jesus dramatically pronounced that loyalty to God ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 129-132

Years ago, I heard a story about a man who attended a lecture by a great theologian. Perceiving that the theologian was not a proponent of biblical inerrancy, the man waved a Bible in his face and asked, “Do you believe that this book is the word of God?” The theo-logian gently took the Bible from the man’s hand and replied, “If this book grasps you, but not if you grasp this book.” This experience of being ...

Notes

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pp. 133-136


E-ISBN-13: 9781451417944
E-ISBN-10: 1451417942
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800698447
Print-ISBN-10: 0800698444

Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 2011