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Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today
 
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Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today [Format Kindle]

Adam Hamilton

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Revue de presse

“Wondrously accessible, Hamilton combines good scholarship with a light touch and exhibits his wise, generous pastoral heart. Hamilton does not let us forget that he bears witness to the gospel and the result is a discussion that permits readers to think again and faithfully about the Bible.” (Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary)

“Clear, straightforward, lucid, faithful, helpful. Highly recommended.” (James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage)

“This is an honest, relevant, and captivating book. Hamilton asks taboo questions and refuses cliché answers. He invites you to join him on a quest for truth, and even if you don’t arrive at the same destination, you will sure enjoy the ride.” (Shane Claiborne, author and activist)

“Acting as friend and guide to those who seek to read the Bible intelligently and with spiritual insight, Hamilton walks readers through the pitfalls of fundamentalism and dry scholarship, opening up both the Bible’s profound humanity and its wisdom for living.” (Diana Butler Bass, author of Christianity After Religion)

“I can think of no one more adept at bringing out the beauty and authority of scripture while also shedding light on the Bible’s most controversial teachings than Adam Hamilton. This is a must read for anyone who is looking for a fuller understanding of the Bible.” (Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners and author of On God's Side)

“If you hope there’s a better way to read, live by, and value the Bible, Hamilton has written the book that will help you-and people you know and love. It’s understandable. It’s honest. It’s wise. And it’s so, so needed.” (Brian D. McLaren author of We Make the Road by Walking)

Présentation de l'éditeur

Denominations from evangelical to mainline continue to experience deep divisions over universal social issues. The underlying debate isn’t about a particular social issue, but instead it is about how we understand the nature of scripture and how we should interpret it. The world’s bestselling, most-read, and most-loved book is also one of the most confusing. In Making Sense of the Bible, Adam Hamilton, one of the country’s leading pastors and Christian authors, addresses the hot-button issues that plague the church and cultural debate, and answers many of the questions frequently asked by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Did God really command Moses to put gay people to death? Did Jesus really teach that everyone who is not a Christian will be assigned to hell? Why would Paul command women to “keep silent in the church?” Were Adam and Eve real people? Is the book of Revelation really about the end times? Who decided which books made it into the scriptures and why? Is the Bible ever wrong? In approachable and inviting language, Hamilton addresses these often misunderstood biblical themes leading readers to a deeper appreciation of the Bible so that we might hear God speak through it and find its words to be life-changing and life-giving.


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Amazon.com: 4.8 étoiles sur 5  118 commentaires
22 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Faithful and Intelligent Introduction to the Bible 22 avril 2014
Par David Crumm - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
As a lifelong journalist covering religion in America, I have been skeptical of Adam Hamilton's rapid rise in popularity nationwide. How was he doing this in a mainline Protestant church? Why were so many people, now 20,000 members, flocking to his Church of the Resurrection? Then, recently, I had an opportunity to do solid journalistic research into his history, his work today and specifically this new book as well as its related study materials. Turns out: He's a brilliant and faithful pastor with a heart, and a writing and speaking style, that welcomes and respects his audience.

I see themes in this book that echo N.T. Wright as well as Marcus Borg. I hear Brian McLaren's compassionate evangelical voice echoing here. I see Rob Bell's passion for the Bible, coupled with top scholarship, echoed here. If you're a fan of any of those authors, you'll find yourself comfortably enjoying this book. You may not agree with every conclusion Hamilton draws in this book, but his scholarship is rock solid and his invitation to think about the Bible in new ways is clear and inviting.

Research has long shown us that America is distinctive in the world for the intensity of our faith, as a culture, and for our outspoken desire as Americans to express ourselves. Unfortunately, research also shows that a majority of Americans, when asked, can't name the four Gospels. Whether that describes you as you read about this new book, or whether you've been involved in a congregation all your life, reading this book is sure to make you think about the Bible from new perspectives.

In addition to an excellent opening section that provides a sweeping overview of the Bible, its history and its timeless power, about half of the book looks at individual topics that have troubled people of faith over the centuries. The sections on violence and on slavery and on gender are fascinating and make great choices for small-group discussion in your community.
27 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 THE BEST WAY TO INCREASE YOUR FAITH IS TO FIRST INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE 18 mars 2014
Par Robert Steven Thomas - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
This is a very important book and the author deserves a great deal of credit for his courage and extensive research in writing it. While many modern people claim to possess a full understanding of the story concerning the actual creation of both the New & Old Testaments, the historically accurate formation of these two important contributions to mankind remain a mystery shrouded in the archaeological veil and dust of time scattered over three millennia. It is estimated that Exodus took place in approximately 1350 BC. What language was the original Old Testament first written in? Hieroglyphs? (Moses was raised and educated as an Egyptian prince) Cuneiform? It could not have been Hebrew! The oldest artifact ever discovered written in Hebrew only dates back to approximately 750 BC, six hundred years after Moses. How was the Old Testament written? When, where and by whom? There are similar questions and gaps in knowledge surrounding the formation of the New Testament as well. There is no blasphemy here. The author's gentle scholarship and presentation bridges these legitimate historical mysteries in a manner that is non-offensive to any individual or religious branch of faith and will help the reader to a greater appreciation for the importance of these questions and knowledge of scripture. This is an important subject for those of all Western faiths to consider.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 If you want to be a consistent Christian ... 5 mai 2014
Par Keith Noren - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This is the book for you.

As a long time bible reader I see much wisdom for living and understanding human conditions in its pages. Think of 1 Cor 13 or the Sermon on the Mount, or Amos's social commentary. I have taught Sunday School usually in a biblical expository manner for over 35 years. Many times I have found that needed voice of reason and encouragement to buoy my spirits, straighten my course, and provide solace/guidance to fellow life travelers. It adds much purpose and meaning to my life and I witness it has done so for believers in many life situations. Humans are not just a punctuated equilibrium in a random evolutionary growth of colliding atoms. It is right and good to value the bible for these reasons.

At the same time, the bible is not an item to be worship (and that is why I'm not capitalizing it herein). Nor is it perfectly reliable in historical fact, scientific fact, ethical instruction, theological reflection, steps towards salvation, or what God might have in store for His creation in the future or after our deaths. I have had to "wrestle" (as Hamilton explains) with many texts and in all honesty have had to side with Jesus's main messages and the Spirit of God over and against other biblical texts.

It is understandable that Christian conservatives have tried to safeguard the bible's wisdom by declaring it as the absolute "word of God" (verbal inspiration), of equal value throughout its pages (plenary inspiration) and incapable of any error (inerrancy). In response to the Enlightenment and the Historical-Critical method of unraveling the bible' context in the 1700-1800's, conservatives built up many must-believe dogmas like bible inerrancy. But that is not needed; the bible can speak for itself if you stick with it.

As you stick with it, you will find inconsistencies in historical facts, quotations, advice for living, and several absurdities that run counter with what we know of Jesus's teaching. Do you really believe God ordered the killing of all Canaanites as the escaped Jewish people finally settled in the "promise land"? Do you really believe any rebellious sons should be stoned to death? Do you really believe a woman cannot be led to lead a congregation? Do you really believe, Jesus literally meant one should gouged out his eyes if he is prone to lust? Must women wear head coverings and be silent in church? Must men not wear head coverings in worship and not have long hair? The list could go and on.

Adam Hamilton is certainly not the first to recognize these truths or limitations in the bible; but he has written probably the best contemporary easy-to-understand assessment of what the bible represents and what it does not. He recognizes just as Jesus was ultimately declared as God and human in the early church, so the bible is inspired by God but written by humans within their particular cultural milieu and their sometimes off-centered biases. He recognizes the infeasibility of exact translation of meaning from the supposedly "inerrant, God-spoken words" in the original autographs (which we don't have) written in one historical context, through many transcriptions, elucidations, translations into other languages (with meanings in the original language often obscure), through our interpretative lenses and/or those of pastors/teachers that are ready to declare they know the absolute truth to pass on. In short he knows we will "wrestle" with the plain meaning of many texts as they have come down to us. He then says that is perfectly fine, and we should move on to more biblical study if we are stuck or "wrestled" into inaction by isolated issues.

He also recognizes the bible nowhere claims its own inerrancy (a circular argument if it were so). He is in agreement with 2 Tim 3:16 "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness". That says nothing about being incapable of error. For those of you who believe such verses as Matt 5:18-19 and John 10:35 claim biblical inerrancy, comment to that effect and I'll reply why it does not necessarily mean what you think in addition to the obvious circularity. Speaking of John's gospel, John 14-16 (especially John 16:13) makes a stronger case (but still circular) for the Spirit leading us into all truth much more so than the Old Testament "scripture" or any burgeoning New Testament writings. As for Paul, he declared the "letter kills, while the Spirit gives life"; the letter clearly being none other than the Ten Commandments etched in stone (2 Cor 3:1-8).

Those that say "I can't believe anything in the bible if I can't believe it all" are living with inconsistency. Women seldom wear head coverings to church; men and women do not approve of genocide; they have not killed their rebellious sons and don't recommend capital punishment for adultery; as Hamilton points out not even Fred Phelps called for killing homosexuals as the OT commanded; nor have Christians throughout church history ripped out their eyes for lustful thoughts which Jesus declared just as unrighteous as the act of adultery. Yet you partake of the great passages in the bible without hesitancy. You don't have to choose predestination or the "whosoever will" of John 3:16. You can hold in tension the "works" emphasized by James and the "faith" emphasized by Paul.

Hamilton has 3 chapters on the Nature of the Bible, 11 chapters outlining the OT and the NT, 5 chapters on Questions about Nature of the Bible (e.g. inspiration, what the "word of God" really means, inerrancy/infallibility, and what a "high view" of scripture really should mean). He the has chapters that treat "challenging passages and issues" such as Gen 1&2, the violent God of the OT, Suffering and a Good God, the Gospel's reliability, Jesus's unique teachings, role of women in the church, homosexuality, the book of Revelations, and of all things tattoos. One who reads his book will learn much, even seasoned bible readers. The concluding two chapters ought to be up there with scripture, imo. BTW, he only differentiates between modern day sublime Christian writing and canonical biblical writing by the canonical bible's proximity to the Gospels and other biblical events where God intervened most dramatically/overtly into history.

If I could give it six stars I would and I urge all those feeling stuck in an inconsistent fundamentalist framework to read this book in depth maybe a few times. Even those feeling comfortable within such a framework will gain an appreciation of more mainline Christian thought and be less apt to declare apostasy (which is an embarrassment Christianity faces in our broader world).
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Life-changing 19 avril 2014
Par swimmingranny - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I've been a Bible teacher for decades and have written and edited for a major denominational publishing house. As a pastor's wife, I also witnessed many people struggle with their faith primarily because of some parts of the Bible. I knew Hamilton's treatment would be clear and informative, based on several other books of his I've read. But this one was especially touching. Not only does he fearlessly and intelligently address the "problems" in the scriptures (ex: genocide commanded by God?), but he also lovingly bears witness to the life-changing story of Jesus. His personal testimony in Chapter 24 ("Can We Trust the Gospel Accounts of Jesus?") brought me back to the roots of my faith. I came away from this experience more deeply committed to Christ than ever before. Thank you, Adam Hamilton. This book will bring a lot of people home. I'm doing my best to recommend it to everyone I know.
11 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Much to admire, though I ultimately disagree with the conclusions 14 mai 2014
Par C. Smith - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I have only one real disagreement with what Adam Hamilton writes in Making Sense of the Bible, although it is a significant disagreement, which I will discuss shortly. Apart from this, I found the entire book valuable, useful, and quite cogently presented.

Hamilton’s goal is to help people who aren’t familiar with the Bible, or who are troubled by certain passages in it, to “make sense of it.” To this, end he begins very helpfully with the crucial question, “What exactly is the Bible?” (p. 7). He explains that it is not what it is often considered to be: an “owner’s manual,” a source of random guidance, a collection of data for systematic theology, a science and history textbook, or a treasury of “precious promises.”

Hamilton then provides historical, geographic, and literary overviews of the Bible to orient readers to its background and contents. These will be valuable and helpful resources for the many today who don’t start with a basic knowledge of the Bible. Hamilton addresses some questions about the nature of Scripture and then devotes the last half of the book to “making sense of the Bible’s challenging passages.”

As I read through the book, there were certain chapters that I found very meaningful personally. Hamilton’s testimony in Chapter 24 of how he “came to love Jesus” by reading the gospels is poignant and beautiful. And I would recommend his reflections on suffering in the preceding chapter to anyone who is going through difficult times.

So what’s my one disagreement? It’s with Hamilton’s answer to the question of what the Bible actually is. He says it is a collection of books “written by men seeking to express what they believed was God’s will. They were writing in a given time and culture, and they were writing to address the needs of the people of their time” (p. 262; similar summary statements are offered on pp. 89 and 173).

Notice that in this formulation, the Bible is described as essentially a human product. Is it also the inspired word of God? Only in a qualified sense, according to Hamilton. “The divine inspiration of scripture was . . . God working in the hearts of the biblical authors in a way not dissimilar to how God works in the hearts of modern-day preachers and prophets and laity . . . through a divine prompting felt in the heart, focused in the mind, and spoken with the lips or the pen” (p. 173). In other words, “that divine influence on the writers was not qualitatively different from the way God inspires or influences by the Spirit today” (p. 143).

This is what I’m concerned about. If “the most important dimension of inspiration” really is instead “how God uses the words of scripture to speak to us today,” then anything we find in the Bible that doesn’t square with what we think God is saying to us now can be considered something that the human authors believed was God’s will for their own place and time, but which is not necessarily God’s timeless will for all people (and may not actually have been God’s will even for the original audience).

And so if we are troubled, for example, by the places in the Old Testament where God supposedly tells his people to go out and completely destroy their enemies, we can conclude either that “the passage may reflect the culture, the worldview, or the perspectives of the human author of scripture” (p. 216)—who thought God was telling the Israelites to do this, though God really wasn’t—or that “these stories were written down long after their time to inspire others to courage and absolute commitment to God” (p. 215), but they didn’t really happen as described.

For one thing, this approach allows you to dismiss anything in the Bible that doesn’t square with “God’s will as we understand it today.” As a result, the Bible no longer functions as an objective check on our limited human perspectives; it can no longer expose or critique our time-bound and culture-bound thinking. This approach effectively condemns us to precisely the same fault that Hamilton finds with the biblical authors, whom he thinks sometimes reflected their own cultural biases rather than God’s timeless will.

For another thing, this approach ultimately prevents us from believing anything on the basis of the Bible’s teaching. This difficulty makes itself felt in the very chapter in which Hamilton shares how he put his faith in Christ after reading the gospels, particularly after he realized that the resurrection had to be a reality, otherwise “darkness has overcome light, hate has overcome love, and death has overcome life” (pp. 240-241).

The problem is, as Hamilton himself acknowledges at the beginning of the chapter, some biblical scholars “believe the miraculous elements in the Gospels,” including the resurrection, “reflect the faith of the early church and not the actual Jesus of history.” This is a perfectly valid option within Hamilton’s paradigm. The stories of Jesus, like those of Joshua, may have been “written down long after their time to inspire others” and they may include events that did not actually occur. So how can we determine whether Jesus actually rose from the dead or not?

If we have accepted everything Hamilton has said to this point, we cannot simply trust the gospels about this, even though they were written by the people who lived closest to the time of the events they narrate, and even though they are the foundational documents of our faith and have been been found faithful, helpful, inspirational, and useful for so many centuries. They could still be wrong. So instead, as Hamilton acknowledges, “the question of the reliability of the New Testament witness to Jesus boils down to whether we can accept the idea that Jesus did things that other human beings are unable to” (p. 238). In other words, ultimately it is our presuppositions that determine what parts of the Bible we believe.

Now one might argue that it is actually the Holy Spirit, inspiring us as readers of the Bible, who leads us to accept such ideas. But who can say whether the Holy Spirit did not instead inspire those of the opposite view to recognize and reject the resurrection as a well-intentioned superstition when they read the Bible? It seems to me that once you let this genie out of the bottle, there’s no putting it back in. So let me suggest an alternative.

I would argue that from within our own culture and our place in human history and redemptive history, we do not have access, when it comes to certain passages, to an understanding of how what was said to the people of that other place and time could have been God’s will for them, even within their own specific circumstances. We need to confess frankly that we do not understand how the Bible could say what it does in these cases—that this troubles us and confuses us and embarrasses us, and we regret how this creates an obstacle to faith for many. We avow that these passages do not express the timeless will of God for all people and that they certainly do not express God’s will for us today.

But even so, we do not claim to have such a comprehensive understanding of God and of redemptive history, even in light of God’s definitive self-revelation in Jesus, and even with the help that the Holy Spirit indeed gives us when we read the Bible, that we can say confidently that these things could never have expressed God’s will for anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances.

In other words, when it comes to “making sense of the Bible,” there are a few parts that I think we can’t quite make sense of (though we work very hard to do this, as I trust my posts on this blog about such passages demonstrate). But that does not keep me from believing that the Bible is the inspired word of God and from relying on what it says, rather than on any inspiration I might receive when I read it, as my guide to life and faith. Certainly the Bible taken as a whole—its “big ideas and key messages,” as Hamilton puts it (p. 132)—is something we can make sense of and recognize by faith as God’s authoritative and instructive word to us. This is enough to allow us to trust it despite the few parts that force us to say humbly, “I just don’t understand that.”

(This is an abridged version of my review of Hamilton's book on my WordPress blog "Good Question." Amazon doesn't let you post URLs but you can find my review by going to the blog and searching for "Adam Hamilton.")
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