Left Hand On The Bible

This week we will finish our five-part sermon series entitled How the Bible Actually Works. These past five sermons provide a great explanation of how Left Hand Church sees the Bible.

To summarize, we believe the Bible:

  • is not an encyclopedia of facts.
  • is not a rulebook of how we have to live to stay out of hell.
  • is a history of how the people of the time it was written understood God and their relationship with God,
  • and that throughout history, from the earliest days of Israel, it was reinterpreted from one generation to the next.

Listen to the full audio of this sermon series, and read summary points from the pastor who delivered it, starting with:

Starting the Path to Reconstructing Faith
January 3rd, 2021
by John Gaddis

John Gaddis gives us a few summarizing points from this sermon below:

  • The way that the Bible addresses child rearing is a window into how inadequate (and truly unbiblical) a rulebook view of the Bible as a whole is.
  • The book of Proverbs models for us how the Bible works as a whole. The entire Bible is ancient, ambiguous and diverse and therefore demands the same wisdom approach as Proverbs.
  • Creation and wisdom are inseparable, so when we say we need to use wisdom when reading the Bible, we are participating in the life force by which God created the universe. 

The Bible As History & Wisdom
January 10th, 2021
by Paula Williams

Paula Williams gives us a few summarizing points from this sermon below:

  • In evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, the Bible is seen as a rulebook to keep us out of hell, and as an encyclopedia of facts. The first is unnecessary, because we do not need a rulebook to keep us out of hell. God loves us just as we are. The second came about because over the last 500 years, it was assumed the only way God remained active in the world was through the book he wrote. That put a lot of pressure on the book to be all things to all people. It needed to be an encyclopedia of mathematics, biology, geology, geography, psychology, anthropology, and history. And if it had any errors, then God could not be trusted.
  • The Bible is not an encyclopedia of facts. The Old Testament is a history of how the people of Israel understood their relationship with God. The New Testament is a history of how the followers of Jesus understood their relationship with God and Jesus in the first one hundred years after the birth of Jesus.

Views of God
January 24th, 2021
by Paula Williams

Paula Williams gives us a few summarizing points from this sermon below:

  • The Bible not only tells us how the people of God understood their relationship with God, it also tells us how they understood God. Initially they saw God as one God among many, but a jealousGod who wanted Israel to have no other gods. Then they saw God as the one God who demanded sacrifices to set aside the punishment they deserved as a nation. In the New Testament they saw God as a God who demanded sacrifices but offered the final sacrifice in the person of Jesus, his son, who came to earth to be sacrificed on a cross.
  • Today we do not see God as someone who demands sacrifices, but as the God who burst onto the scene in the Big Bang 14 billion years ago, in all of God’s complexity, mystery, and ever expansiveness, rooted in relationship and grounded in love. We also believe that God came to earth in the person of Jesus to show solidarity with us in our suffering.

Applying Wisdom To Scripture
January 31st, 2021
by John Gaddis

John Gaddis gives us a few summarizing points from this sermon below:

  • The process of adapting the past and reimagining God is something that we actually can see happening in the Bible itself, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  • Jews changed their sacred texts to clarify what God is like in their new time and place over and over. For example, references to “one God among any” begat monotheism.
  • The concept of wisdom is central to the Jewish mindset, but that focus has been lost among followers of Jesus. Jesus taught using wisdom, and interpreted the ancient law for a new day.  
  • We are called to use our wisdom to make the ancient text our own for our time. The life of faith has always been about respecting this tension between the there and then and the hear and now, and wisdom is the key to living in that tension.
  • At what point do we cross the line from adapting a tradition so that it can survive, to compromising that tradition beyond recognition? Perhaps the answer to this question is rooting ourselves in love and in community.

The New Testament Letters
February 7th, 2021
by Paula Williams

This week’s sermon will conclude this sermon series with a look at the rest of the New Testament, after the four gospels. We’ll update this post with the audio as soon as Paula’s had the chance to preach it live to us on Sunday.

Paula Williams gives us a few summarizing points from this sermon below:

  • Another misconception about the Bible is that it tells us timeless truths about God. In fact, it tells us truths about what the people at the time it was written thought about God. They continually reinterpreted their understanding of God according to the time in which they lived. Ifyou see the Bible as telling timeless truths about God, then you would still see God as angry and jealous, as presented in the early Old Testament, as a God who demands sacrifices, as presented in the Old Testament, and as a God who allows slavery and misogyny, and prejudice against LGBTQ people, as presented in the New Testament.
  • The Bible is not a book telling us timeless truths about God. It is a history of what the people of the time thought about God and their relationship with God. And it has always been reinterpreted by people during every age, including our own.