Another great conversation last night on our recent topic regarding creation and evolution. This was our third session in our new study "Can I Ask That?" It was also our best attended so far and we are excited to welcome anyone who is interested in the discussions in the coming weeks. Here is an overview of what we discussed.
"Evolution does not match up with the Bible." - Mrs. Bronson (Science Teacher)
Tom struggled with this phrase. He struggled with the group discussion surrounding Charles Darwin and evolutionary theories. Tom went to church and his class was aware of this. They asked him, "You don't believe in evolution, do you Tom?" or "Sorry, but isn't it kind of ignorant to think the Bible is true when science so clearly contradicts the Bible?"
Tom felt embarrassed and childish when the other students kept insisting science made faith in God irrelevant.
Tom talked with his girlfriend, Jen, who had a strong opinion and she said "You can't believe in both evolution and God. The Bible says God created the world in six days and then rested."
These conversations kept Tom awake at night. He started to wonder, "If I believe in evolution and science, can I still be a Christian."
Sunday night gave us an interesting topic of discussion "Does the Bible contradict itself?" The evening started off with discussing a story of a high school girl asking another girl why she didn't believe in God. This led to the girl searching through the Bible looking for contradictions in some of the Bible stories. She landed on the resurrection story in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each version is different from the other in the details of who and what exactly happened. Here is a quick overview:
On Sunday night we tackled the question, "Can I Trust the Bible?" We had a lively discussion on whether or not the New Testament could be trustworthy with the following facts:
1. We have no original copies of the New Testament letters and gospels. The original books written by Paul, the gospel writers and other authors have not been found. But we also don't have the originals of any other ancient work from that period.
2. The gospels and letters of the New Testament were written by different people in different places and different times.
3. The stories of Jesus captured in the gospels were first passed down orally prior to being written down. But it's important to know that in the ancient world, this was how all stories were carefully preserved.
4. People made mistakes when copying the Bible. Almost no scholars would argue that scribes did not make some "variances" when they copied the New Testament. The question is: How important where they?
We then took a look at and excerpt of one of the oldest papryi in existence, that contains almost the entire gospel of John. It is dated near 200 A.D. When we look at this document we realize there is no punctuation, it's in Greek, there are no chapter titles, verses, or explanatory footnotes and it was hand written. With that in mind we asked the question: How would you guess something like this papyrus written 1,800 years ago became the Bible you have in your hands today?
Take a look at our Prezi for more information and questions regarding this: Can I Ask That? Session 1
We finished with the following points:
1. Why does this matter? The Bible contains the history of God and God's people over time, including the account of God actually coming to earth as a person: Jesus Christ. If the Bible has been significantly changed, it might be difficult to have confidence in the main messages of scripture about who God is and who we are. We talked about having a faith and trust in the Bible and how this is important.
2. What kind of changes did scribes make? Most of the changes were "copy errors" which do not significantly change the meaning of those texts. However, some changes do affect how we read the Bible, like changes in the ways passages might be interpreted by shifting a word or two. College students will likely be exposed to arguments like this so it is helpful to familiarize them to this argument.
3. Over time the church came to agreement about which books were part of the authoritative Bible and which were not considered part of scripture. The Bible we have today is a product of those individuals, councils, Bible translators and scholars through the years.
Finally a summary from our book:
"Most Christian traditions believe the Bible is God's inspired word to humanity. The Holy Spirit inspired human authors to capture God's Word and communicate it to God's people in specific places and times, as well as over time to us. Because we believe it's God's word, scripture has "authority" in our lives. The Holy Spirit uses scripture to shape us into people who live in relationship with--and try to live like-- Jesus Christ."
2 Timothy 3:15-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
Ask your youth their opinion on this topic (at least for now)...
Next week we tackle the question "Does the Bible contradict itself?"
Dear Parents & Guardians,
I’m writing to let you know about an important study we are beginning with our high school students on Sunday Nights.
We will be using a resource titled Can I Ask That?, a Sticky Faith curriculum from Fuller Youth Institute (fulleryouthinstitute.org), that is designed to lead teenagers in critical conversation about their faith. This study will invite students to look at topics like evolution, the reliability of the Bible, and homosexuality. It raises hard questions that don’t have easy answers, and helps students think about them from a biblical perspective.
We have convictions that high youth should wrestle with challenging topics now, with adults who know them and care about their faith, rather than on their own later. Some research suggests that about 50 percent of youth group participants will leave their faith when they graduate from high school (see stickyfaith.org for more research and resources addressing this concern). We don’t want young people to leave faith in Christ because we haven’t had real conversations with them about topics that matter.
These studies are written to intentionally encourage students to consider many sides of these issues and help them begin to form their own opinions based on dialogue around scripture, different Christian and non-Christian perspectives, and the tradition of our church. If you are interested in a copy of the curriculum, please let me know. I always welcome your questions and input.
Because doubt isn't toxic to faith. Silence is.
Along with encouraging your student to attend our weekly HSM Sunday Night meetings, you can also keep up with our HSM Blog for families. Each week we will post the highlights from the topic of the night. We will post links to other resources for your family to consider as well. We hope you will take this opportunity to explore your own understanding of the topics being discussed and have follow up conversations throughout the week.
We are excited about this series and hope you will encourage your high school youth to attend throughout the coming months. HSM Sunday Night is a time and place for youth to belong, question and connect.
If you have any questions please contact me in the church office or via email: Michael Beckmann
Stay tuned into this Blog as we will continue to post weekly updates and conversation starters for your family on Sunday nights!
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Each week we will post one or more blogs related to our ministries for High School youth and families. Check back often and leave a comment!