Many of us grew up learning Bible stories from Sunday school teachers with flannelgraph boards, introducing us to two-dimensional characters with a simple message, often set to an easy-to-learn song (anyone remember “Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he?”).
Those stories and characters were formative for those of us who grew up in church. They were our first glimpse into the collection of writings that make up the biblical canon.
Unfortunately, many people never go much further into their attempts to understand the Bible than those two-dimensional flannelgraph stories. And too many churches have continued to propagate an overly-simplistic view of the Bible today.
Such a limited view, of course, is part of the reason that many people have rejected both the Church and the Bible it claims as its central authority. The unwillingness to address nuance, cultural complexities, and historical realities in favor of an inerrant, unchanging “Word of God” has become a breeding ground for spiritual toxicity and religious abuse.
But what if there’s another way to read the Bible? One that takes context—including culture, history, politics, economics, as well as religion—into account? One that gives us a view into the societies from which our sacred texts have emerged? One that shines a light on the oppression, marginalization, and violence suffered by the biblical writers and their communities at the hands of exploitative, colonizing forces?
Starting this week at New Wineskins, we’ll take a closer look into the cultural forces that shaped those flannelgraph stories we grew up with by discussing Bible Stories for Grown-Ups by Appalachian native and progressive pastor Josh Scott.
For the next several weeks, we’ll go chapter-by-chapter through Bible Stories for Grown-Ups to read and hear some very familiar stories through a whole new interpretive lens. While we encourage you attend each of our weekly gatherings as we study the book together, each chapter will be a stand-alone lesson…so you can join our conversations as you are able without worrying about missing the whole thing if you’re unable to attend every Sunday.
Here’s our anticipated reading/discussion schedule:
- Sunday, April 23: Introduction
- Sunday, April 30: Chapter 1 – Noah’s Ark
- Sunday, May 7: Chapter 2 – The Binding of Isaac
- Sunday, May 14: Chapter 3 – Jonah
- Sunday, May 21: Chapter 4 – The Parable of the Talents
- Sunday, May 28: Chapter 5 – Zacchaeus
- Sunday, June 4: Chapter 6 – Healing the Blind Man
- Sunday, June 11: Postscript – Where do we go from here?
Bible Stories for Grown-Ups is available through several booksellers. Here are some links to the most popular sites:
- Click here to order from Amazon
- Click here to order from Abington Press
- Click here to order from Cokesbury
Join us this Sunday, April 23, in the New Wineskins Virtual Theology Pub powered by Zoom as we begin our journey through Bible Stories for Grown-Ups!
(Want a little more of a preview? Click here to check out Joe Webb’s interview with author Josh Scott on the Accidental Tomatoes Podcast!)
6:00pm ET: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm ET: Presentation & conversation begin
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