A Persian Cafe, Edward Lord Weeks

Monday, 27 January 2014

My new favourite book of the Bible

One of the reasons I enjoyed The Great Escape was the specific passages we were studying. The first four sessions - Friday and Saturday evenings, plus two sessions Saturday morning - were looking at the opening chapters of the Book of Hebrews. After this the speaker left in order to preach at his home church on the Sunday morning, and so we had a talk looking at the implications of what is possibly my single favourite verse - Philippians 1:21, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain". The talks were very thought provoking - the suggestion that "we fear death because, deep down, we realise that it is not natural" brought to mind Nick Bostrom's Fable of the Dragon Tyrant (animated version here). Now that I think back to it I'm also thinking of the naturalistic fallacy appeal to nature; then again, Fallacy Fallacy.

But I digress. Why did I enjoy reading from the book of Hebrews so much? Because it makes claims, and backs them up with evidence. I should clarify by this that I don't mean scientific or historical claims, but about points of doctrine. That said, every claim is backed up by at least one direct quotation from the Old Testament. I'd like to quote the entire first chapter, but I'm not certain how copyright applies to translations. A brief look at the NIV website suggests I'm not providing enough original comment on this post to be able to reprint a full chapter, so I'll just invite you to read it here.

I have frequently heard said things to the effect that the Christian merit of a church is identical to the extent to which it relies on the Bible. I think that this understates the role of critical reason - the Bible can be completely infallible, and yet we can still be prone to misunderstand it - but there is certainly a great deal of truth to that statement. So it is a delight to see theology being done by direct reference to scripture, as a divine example as to how we should do our own biblical analysis.

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