Free courses to do with Bible studies

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I’ve recently come across a few free courses that may be of interest to anyone who would waste time on this blog. I haven’t looked at any of these yet so I can’t comment as to their quality, I’m afraid.

Have you checked out any of these courses? What do you think of them?

A Skeptic’s Journey Through The Bible

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I disappeared for a year and came back to find a brand-spanking new (to me) “reading the Bible” blog! I’m so happy to see others – particularly skeptics/atheists – doing the same thing. Though maybe it’s something of a “misery loves company” thing!

A Skeptic’s Journey Through The Bible

So far, I’ve only skimmed the blog and read a handful of posts in detail, but I’m adding it to my list of sites that I consult as I write my own posts. I’m sure that I’ll be linking over there quite a bit going forward.

I do feel that the author relies a bit too heavily on the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, and I find that s/he asks good questions but doesn’t seem to follow through and try to find answers. But that’s okay, it preserves my niche. The questions s/he asks are fantastic and have already given me some food for thought in my own reading.

EDIT (6 June, 2013): I’ve been reading A Skeptic’s Journey a lot more lately, and it’s been really bothering me how much s/he will borrow from David Plotz’s blog without giving credit. It’s overt enough that sometimes her/his paraphrasing reads more like direct quotes, and s/he’ll even use Plotz’s jokes, but without giving credit or in any way indicating that the words and ideas aren’t her/his own. It’s disappointing since s/he does seem to have some interesting and original ideas – or, at least, I think they’re original, but who knows?

What's your theological worldview?

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via Scotteriology.

So what’s your theological worldview?

Of course, the whole thing is Christian centred, so you won’t see “Atheist” or “Hindu” popping up. And, since many of the questions presumed Christian belief, I found myself picking the least objectionable answer rather than what I would like to say. I also had trouble with questions that had two clauses, such as: “The Gospel has to do with social and political action, not just saving people’s souls.”

According to the quiz, I’m a Postmodern Christian. Within a purely Christian context, I’d say that’s remarkably accurate!

You Scored as Emergent/PostmodernYou are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emergent/Postmodern
82%
Modern Liberal
61%
Classical Liberal
43%
Roman Catholic
36%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
32%
Reformed Evangelical
21%
Neo orthodox
21%
Fundamentalist
7%
Charismatic/Pentecostal
4%

Blogging the Bible

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plotz-david-good-bookA couple years ago, Slate‘s David Plotz undertook a project to blog the Bible – much as your humble narrator is doing, but in a far less verbose manner.

I’ve only read a couple of the entries so far, but it seems to be rather interesting. Plotz focuses more on his own personal impressions of his reading rather than summary, although it seems pretty easy to figure out what’s going on based on his commentary, so I don’t think that reading the Bible is necessary to enjoy the blog.

He only goes through the Old Testament. Being a Jew, that’s where his interests lay.

He’s also written a book based on his experiences called Good Book. Have you read it? Leave your impressions in the comments!

Left Behind and the Slacktivist

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There's also a live action movie featuring Kirk Cameron, a.k.a. Bananaman's BFF!

There’s also a live action movie featuring Kirk Cameron, a.k.a. Bananaman’s BFF!

Left Behind is a best-selling novel series written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins about the end of the world. The series begins with the Rapture, when all the True Christians and all children suddenly disappear. This heralds the beginning of the Tribulation, a period of seven years before the final destruction of the world.

The series is something of a phenomenon, drawing heavily on Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth for its sequence of events, rather than the more obvious source of the Bible. In fact, what struck me the most about the series is just how tangential the Bible actually is to the events described in the series – despite the authors’ claim that the series shows how Biblical prophecy will be fulfilled.

But I won’t say more about it because what I really wanted to do was advertise Slacktivist’s reading. The very definition of “taking one for the team,” Fred Clark has been live blogging the series for some time now.

Clark’s take is particularly interesting because, as a Christian himself, he’s able to point out the theological absurdities of the series as well as the more common criticisms as being poorly written, badly plotted, completely lacking in verisimilitude, and containing some of the most astoundingly Mary Sue-ish characters around.

Beware, though, that Slacktivist’s posts about Left Behind can be somewhat addicting.

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

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(h/t Scotteriology)

If you’re a dufus like me, you’ve probably gone to big buildings called Museums to look at ancient artefacts, to see with your own eyes what you’ve previously only read about (most likely in books). But that’s because I’m a 20th century gal and that’s just how we did things in my day.

dead-sea-scrolls

Well the Dark Ages are over, and you can now view the Dead Sea Scrolls online!

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls is a beautiful project that allows you to look through several complete scrolls, and provides some additional information about the works.

Marital Problems Explained

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institute-for-creation-research

Days of Praise is a daily sermon put out by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). The format is pretty fairly standard – it starts with a Biblical quote, and follows with a brief discussion that often bears no relevance whatsoever to that quote.

Today’s edition is no exception, drawing the conclusion that marital problems are caused by The Fall from: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17)

There are all sorts of things wrong with the sermon. We jump right in with the first sentence: “Marriage has always had a high place–a high calling.” Yes, a very high calling. Marriage is that thing you do if you are too weak to resist sexual temptation. That’s right, marriage is the same kind of “high calling” as chopping off your limbs.

So that’s the first sentence down. On to the second…

It’s absolutely true that God intended woman for man to help ease solitude. However, the idea that woman would be a suitable companion came only after Adam rejected God’s initial idea: Bestiality.

To recap, marriage is a high calling, just like self-mutilation and the sexual abuse of animals.

Skip ahead a little bit, we get the statement that: “It is safe to say that the many excesses on both sides of a marriage that we see today are the legacy of sin.” Before you think that the ICR may have something of a point here, they aren’t defining “sin” as bad behaviour and/or thought patterns. No, in this context, “sin” refers to Adam’s rebellion. In other words, if you fight with your wife, it’s because someone ate some no-no fruit six thousand years ago. Logic!

Marital problems, caused by fruit consumption and… Satan!

Oh yes, they went there. “Satan himself delights in destroying marriage.” Cheat on your husband? Satan made you do it. Don’t respect your wife as a human being and partner? Satan’s corrupting your brain (or the opposite, Christians are a bit weird on this point…).

But more specifically, Satan (or Satin, for the fashionistas) “introduced numerous practices which are detrimental to a proper marriage.” This is how the ICR explains away the craziness of polygamy not being “Biblical marriage” – I’d always wondered about that. Of course, they’re still playing fairly fast and loose with scripture, saying that it was the “ungodly lineage of Cain [that] began to practice polygamy” and neglecting to mention that most of the patriarchs also did so.

They also claim that “Noah’s son, Ham, indulged in sexual thoughts and innuendoes,” citing Genesis 9:22. Now, the Bible is clear that Ham is a baddie and Noah is a goodie, so I’m not entirely surprised that they would try to spin it this way. But read the passage! Even without the context, Ham’s crime is seeing Noah naked and telling his brothers, which is a far cry from indulging in “sexual thoughts and innuendoes.” Take it with the context, and it only gets worse. The reason Noah was naked in the first place is that he drank way too much wine and passed out – naked – in his tent. And yet the spin here is that Ham is the baddie with “sexual thoughts” for accidentally walking in on him. That, folks, is why we don’t get our morality from the Bible.

And, of course, they bring up Abraham’s “extramarital affair” (which is a really nice way of saying that he raped one of his slaves). That’s what he did wrong. Abandoning the slave he raped and their son in the desert with nothing but a skin of water and a bit of bread, however, isn’t worthy of mentioning. We also won’t mention the two times that Abraham prostituted his wife for material gain…

And then ICR lists among the crimes in the story of Dinah “marriage to unbelievers.” Just to be clear, Dinah is the girl who was kidnapped and raped. Since she was the believer, we can see just how compassionate ICR is with rape survivors…

So after all this TL;DR, we finally get to the conclusion, which is what I really wanted to draw attention to today. ICR writes: “What is the solution for this age-long attack on the family? We must heed the guidelines given in Scripture for a godly marriage. Passages such as those surrounding our text are well worth our study.”

Vyckie Garrison, former Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy adherent, has frequently remarked that, while only a small minority of Christians practice the Quiverfull lifestyle, its ideals are very mainstream. Many Christians will look at families like the Duggars as an example of what great faith in God looks like. This conclusion, with words like “godly marriage,” is a subtle promotion of the Christian Patriarchy ideal. Keep that in mind whenever you hear the Christian Right talk about “family.”

 

Also posted on the CFI-Ottawa blog.