Which Bible Says It's So?

Which Bible Says It's So?


Happy August!

I miss you and hope you are having a great summer!

We plan to start services after Labor Day weekend but not in person. We decided the risks were still too high. Stay tuned.

Take a few minutes to read this week's lessons and reflect on what they mean. Feel free to email me questions from the readings and I'll respond in the next newsletter.

Which Bible Tells Me So?

Yesterday I was in a group conversation with evangelical and secular leaders.

My view of Christianity was so different from others in the discussion that my secular friend asked, "Rich, it sounds like your Christianity is very inclusive and focuses more on love and action. You seem very Jesus focused. I'm guessing that you don't take the Bible very seriously and that's the difference between your beliefs and those of the other Christians."

I responded, that we take the Bible very seriously and maybe even more seriously than other Christians, but we understand it very differently.

I shared how our worship begins and ends with opening of the Word and that we have many readings from the Word as part of worship.

Even deeper, as you can see from Swedenborg's insight this week, I explained that there is a transcendent power in reading Holy Scripture that goes well beyond any rational understanding. When we read the Word we are opening ourselves up to great angelic powers.

There's power in the Word.

Where we are different is that we don't see it as a literal book, but it is best understood at a deeper symbolic reading. The readings of Jesus can be amazing teachings in both deeper understandings and in the parables he shares.

Though much of the Old Testament is most helpful when you understand the symbolic meaning of the story.

I would argue that it is impossible for anyone who really reads the Bible deeply not see the contradictions when you try to take it literally.

That fact does nothing to take away from the teaching and power.

Also, I don't believe that the Bible was written by God moving a man's arm. I believe the writers brought with their work their times and cultures.

That's different than someone who says the Word is literally true. A group of men at various councils chose different books to be in what we call the Bible.

Here are some fun facts about the Bible. Christians don't have a common Bible. Swedenborg suggested a shortened version of the Bible himself based on deeper spiritual meanings.

The Bible that Protestants have has 66 books in it.

The Bible that Roman Catholics have has 73 books in it.

The Bible that Orthodox Christians have has 79 books in it.

The Bible that Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo have has 81 books in it.

Swedenborg said the books of the Word are all those which have the internal sense; books which do not have it are not the Word.

The books of the Word in the Old Testament are: The five Books of Moses; the Book of Joshua; the Book of Judges; the two Books of Samuel; the two Books of Kings; the Psalms of David; and the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

And in the New Testament they are: The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; and the Book of Revelation.

Yet Swedenborg in his writing refers to the Protestant Bible of his time. He agued that only the one's he's listed have symbolic meaning as well as literal.

The reality is there are many Bibles. Next time someone asks you if you believe in the literal Bible, you might ask, "which one?"

The important thing is that reading the Word is a powerful source of spiritual strength helping us to love the Lord and our neighbor.

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Your Pastor
Rev. Richard L. Tafel



Church Administrator Job Description

We've had 40 applicants for our position and we'll begin interviews next week.

Readings this Week

Psalm 67
Deus misereatur
1 May God be merciful to us and bless us, *
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
2 Let your ways be known upon earth, *
your saving health among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, *
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
6 The earth has brought forth her increase; *
may God, our own God, give us his blessing.
7 May God give us his blessing, *
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.

Jesus Teaches at the Festival
14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

Swedenborg Insight
It is characteristic of the Word’s style that there is something holy in every statement, even in every word, even at times in the letters themselves; so the Word unites us to the Lord and opens heaven…The Word fills us with good desires that come from love and truths that lead to wisdom, provided we read it with the help of the Lord and not just on our own. It fills our will with good desires that come from love and fills our understanding with truths that lead to wisdom. As a result, we gain life by means of the Word. —Sacred Scripture 3

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Dancing Priest Does Hamilton | CHURCH PARODY | "You'll Be Back"

Treat yourself to watching this very funny Hamilton parody by a Priest signing to his membership at ST ANNE'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Big News Shalonda Ingram has negotiated with Netflix to make Church of the Holy City a designated location for shoots in Washington DC. This is a great way to get our building to the world. Stay tuned.
Our library is opening up to rentals again.

Moving toward getting our church air conditioned goes on. Last week engineers had to use three different drills to get through the walls to hook up electric.
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