This week the church is filled with life: 99 children, 55 youth assistants, 53 adult volunteers, all here for Vacation Bible School.
Of course, the Bible is close to, but is not the heart of our faith as Christians – that distinction belongs not to a book but to a person: God made known in Jesus of Nazareth. But, without “The Book” (the word Bible comes from the Greek word Biblos, meaning “Book”) we would not know about Jesus as the central person, not just of our faith, but of all history. In fact, as an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), along with all elders and deacons, I am asked – and affirm – the following question about God’s inspiration of the Bible, and the Bible’s role in connecting us to Jesus:
Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s word to you?
This coming Sunday as we continue our sermon series on “Contours of Faith” it’s this book that will be the focus point of my message: a book which after 2,000-3,000 years, is still not out of date, but remains the book to which we must give our attention as a gift that God uses to shape our lives for Christ. The message on Sunday will be personal: about God’s use of the Bible within our lives as individuals and as a church. But in a few weeks, on August 7, I’ll be sharing my perspective about what the Bible has to say about a particularly thorny issue in society at the moment – abortion.
Twenty-five minutes in the pulpit does not provide the length of time or opportunity for discussion that this kind of topic demands, and so the event will take place as part of the Summer Speaker Series in Stone Hall with our guest that day, Dr. Tremper Longman. Dr. Longman taught Biblical Studies for almost 20 years at Westmont College in California, and included a chapter on the issue of abortion in his 2020 book, “The Bible and the Ballot: Using Scripture in Political Decisions.” Some of you may have heard Dr. Tremper speak at NPC on a previous occasion about his book, which also includes chapters on the Bible and nationalism, religious liberty, war, criminal justice, immigration, same-sex marriage, the environment, poverty, and racism. This is a book that I wish every member of National would read!
Here’s Dr. Longman’s premise from the first page of his preface:
Right from the start we need to be clear: The Bible does not give us specific public policies. Rather, the Bible gives us general principles that we should take seriously as we think through issues of public policy and make political decisions.
And this will be our approach on August 7 – which will be frustrating to some! The temptation is always to try to move too quickly to “what the government or judiciary should do” without being clear about what the Bible actually does or does not say. So . . . the central issue in our discussion will not be on whether or not a particular public policy is right or wrong, but on seeking to discern what the Bible does or does not say about the issue of abortion.
Between now and then:
- I hope you will buy and prayerfully read “The Bible and the Ballot” – in my opinion, the best book out there on how to read the Bible faithfully as the background to major ethical decisions.
- I hope you will join Dr. Longman and me at 9:45-10:45 am in Stone Hall on Sunday, August 14.
- And . . I hope you will join me this Sunday as we worship God together, focusing on the ways God still uses The Book, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to lead us to Christ and to give our lives, hearts, minds and actions, to him as our Lord and Savior.
Glad to be your pastor,
P.S. Pray for our children in the remaining two days of Vacation Bible School!
And check out the great line-up for the rest of the Summer Speaker Series here.