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Making Sense of the Bible [Leader Guide]: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today

Making Sense of the Bible [Leader Guide]: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today

by Adam Hamilton
Making Sense of the Bible [Leader Guide]: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today

Making Sense of the Bible [Leader Guide]: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today

by Adam Hamilton

Paperback(Leaders Gu)

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Overview

In this six week video study, Adam Hamilton explores the key points in his new book, Making Sense of the Bible. With the help of this Leader Guide, groups learn from Hamilton as his video presentations lead groups through the book, focusing on the most important questions we ask about the Bible, its origins and meaning.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426785580
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 03/17/2014
Series: Making Sense of the Bible Series
Edition description: Leaders Gu
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 115,876
Product dimensions: 4.80(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, one of the fastest growing, most highly visible churches in the country. The Church Report named Hamilton’s congregation the most influential mainline church in America, and he preached at the National Prayer Service as part of the presidential inauguration festivities in 2013. Hamilton is the best-selling and award-winning author of The Walk, Simon Peter, Creed, Half Truths, The Call, The Journey, The Way, 24 Hours That Changed the World, John, Revival, Not a Silent Night, Enough, When Christians Get It Wrong, and Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, all published by Abingdon Press. Learn more about Adam Hamilton at AdamHamilton.com.

Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, one of the fastest growing, most highly visible churches in the country. The Church Report named Hamilton’s congregation the most influential mainline church in America, and he preached at the National Prayer Service as part of the presidential inauguration festivities in 2013. Hamilton is the best-selling and award-winning author of The Walk, Simon Peter, Creed, Half Truths, The Call, The Journey, The Way, 24 Hours That Changed the World, John, Revival, Not a Silent Night, Enough, When Christians Get It Wrong, and Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, all published by Abingdon Press. Learn more about Adam Hamilton at AdamHamilton.com.

Read an Excerpt

Making Sense of the Bible

Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today Leader Guide


By Adam Hamilton

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5018-0132-7



CHAPTER 1

Making Sense Of The Old Testament

Introduction; Book Chapters 1–7


Planning the Session

Session Goals

As a result of conversations and activities connected with this session, group members should begin to:

• be introduced to what the Bible is, and what it is not;

• explore the scope of Old Testament Scriptures;

• gain a basic understanding of when, how, and why Old Testament books were written;

• learn how Old Testament books came to be included in the Bible;

• get insight into how Old Testament prophecy is reinterpreted through the lens of the life of Jesus Christ.


Biblical Foundation

The devil said to [Jesus], "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'" Luke 4:3-4


Special Preparation

• Adam Hamilton envisions this study as a conversation on his back porch with refreshments. If you like, plan to bring iced tea and lemonade along with cups or glasses and napkins.

• Write the following question on a large sheet of paper: What is one thing about the Bible that has troubled, perplexed, or confused you? Why?

• Prepare two additional sets of large paper sheets. In the first set, prepare five sheets, each with one of the following headings: Owner's Manual, Magic 8 Ball, Book of Systematic Theology, Science Textbook, and Book of Promises. In the second set, prepare four sheets, each with one of the following headings: The Law, Historical Books, Poetical and Wisdom Books, and The Prophets.

• Print the children's song "The B-I-B-L-E" and post it. (Words are shown later in this chapter under Learning Together.)

• Although not essential, a wall map of the Ancient Near East in Old Testament times would be helpful. You'll also find maps in the book chapter.

Remember that there are more activities than most groups will have time to complete. As leader, you'll want to go over the session in advance and select the activities you think will work best for your group in the time allotted.


Getting Started

Opening Activity

In a prominent location, post the question you wrote on a large sheet of paper in your preparation. As group members arrive, welcome them to the study. If members are not familiar with one another, provide nametags. Supply Bibles for those who did not bring one.

Gather together, and have group members introduce themselves. Ask them to name a favorite book of the Bible or to tell a Scripture they remember. Call attention to the question you posted on the large sheet of paper:

• What is one thing about the Bible that has troubled, perplexed, or confused you? Why?

Form pairs and invite participants to take time to discuss this question. Then reassemble as a large group and ask participants to name the issues and questions that surfaced in their one-on-one discussions. List these on a large sheet of paper.

Ask the group to read over quickly the Introduction to Adam Hamilton's book Making Sense of the Bible. Point out that Hamilton envisions the book as a conversation with his readers, sitting on the back porch and sharing glasses of iced tea or lemonade. If you have chosen to provide these refreshments, invite participants to help themselves to some.

Ask group members to turn to the book's table of contents. Point out that the book is divided into two parts. The first part, "The Nature of Scripture," addresses some foundational questions, such as how the Bible was written and in what sense it is inspired, as well as what types of writing are included and the criteria used to decide which books were to be included. In the second part, "Making Sense of the Bible's Challenging Passages," some difficult questions and issues will be addressed, such as science and religion, historical accuracy, and end times. Look again at the large sheet of paper with questions contributed by participants, and note which of their questions will be addressed in the book.

Invite a volunteer to read aloud one of the final paragraphs of Hamilton's Introduction, beginning with the words "I hear God speak through the Bible." Encourage participants to bring an open mind and heart to this study. During this study, they will wrestle with thorny passages while at the same time listening for the One to whom the entire Bible bears witness.


Opening Prayer

Open our ears, O God, to what you would have us hear. Through your holy Word, convict us, challenge us, and comfort us. Open our minds to new insights and fresh perspectives about our questions. Open our hearts to the moving of your Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.


Learning Together

Video Study and Discussion

Briefly introduce Adam Hamilton, the book author and video presenter. From his website at www.adamhamilton.org, visitors learn that Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, where he preaches to more than 8,000 per week. Hamilton states that he writes and teaches on life's tough questions, the doubts with which we all wrestle, and the challenging issues we face today. He explores the "gray" areas that present themselves when the Bible's teachings cross paths with our life experiences. Participants can learn more about Hamilton and his books at www.adamhamilton.org.

Call attention to the large sheet of paper with the children's song, "The B-I-B-L-E." If possible, sing it together:

The B-I-B-L-E!

Yes, that's the book for me!

I stand alone on the Word of God,

The B-I-B-L-E!

The B-I-B-L-E,

Yes, that's the book for me,

I read and pray, trust and obey,

The B-I-B-L-E.

Invite the group to think about what this song says about the nature of the Bible.

• What does it mean to "stand alone on the Word of God"?

• What does it mean to "trust and obey" the Bible? Does this meaning imply that we must accept that every word of the Bible has an equal claim on us?

• Does this childhood song reflect the way you view the Bible? If so, in what ways? If not, why?

Play the video. Before starting, set the stage by inviting group members to listen for Adam Hamilton's story of his own encounter with what he calls the "words of life." After viewing the video, discuss the following:

• In your understanding of the Bible, how do you balance the concepts of divinity and humanity?

• Hamilton observes that he struggles with the biblical text; yet, even in the face of his disagreement with some Scripture passages, God speaks to him through the text. What is your experience of wrestling with biblical texts?

Invite any other observations participants may want to share about this video segment. Explain that in upcoming session videos, the group will explore information about how we got the Bible and how and by whom it was written, using the information from Hamilton's book.


Book Study and Discussion

Form five groups. Give each group one of the five large sheets of paper you prepared in the first set of sheets: Owner's Manual, Magic 8 Ball, Book of Sysematic Theology, Science Textbook, Book of Promises. (See Special Preparation, earlier in this chapter.) Ask each group to scan the information in Chapter 1, paying special attention to the information about the heading on their sheet. Then ask them to discuss that particular way of characterizing the Bible and to write their thoughts on the large sheet of paper.

Reconvene the large group and ask each small group to share its thoughts and comments. Discuss:

• Is there one of these characterizations that in some way appeals to you? If so, why?

• What are the inadequacies Hamilton reveals in each of these ways of characterizing the Bible?

• How might the assumptions behind each approach to reading the Bible leave readers confused, misguided, or disappointed?


Explore the Timeline and Map

In preparation for Chapter 3's fifteen-minute tour of the Old Testament, list on a large sheet of paper the dates shown in the text that represent the current consensus view of science regarding the origin of the universe. Then ask participants to scan the Chapter 2 timeline quickly for events described in the Bible up to the point when the Old Testament period ends (400s B.C.). Invite them to name any observations that seem particularly relevant to them (for example, the striking difference between the scientific consensus for the earth's creation and the traditional dating on the timeline). Also have them examine the maps included in the chapter, making note of the area of the Fertile Crescent. If you have a wall map showing the Ancient Near East, ask volunteers to point out the relevant locations. Ask:

• What was the strategic significance of the area we call the Holy Land?

Emphasize that because of its location and its significance as a major land trade route, this part of the world has been coveted by major powers for millennia.


The Old Testament in Fifteen Minutes

Invite the group to spend fifteen minutes "walking" through the Old Testament as suggested by Adam Hamilton in order to review the scope of the Old Testament.

Form four groups. Give each group one of the four large sheets of paper you prepared in the second set of sheets: The Law, Historical Books, Poetical and Wisdom Books, and The Prophets. (See Special Preparation, earlier in this chaper.) Ask each group to read the text in Chapter 3 relevant to their category of the Old Testament and work together to print a brief summary, including the names of the books, on the sheet. Allow ten minutes or so for groups to work, then ask them to share their information with the large group.


The Writing of the Old Testament

Recall Hamilton's story from the video about his airplane conversation on the subject of the Bible. Invite participants to read the first paragraphs of Chapter 4 silently. Tell the group that this chapter addresses questions of how the Old Testament was written, if not literally inscribed by the finger of God on stone tablets.

As a large group, look at the sheets of paper completed by each of the small groups. Underline the names of the first five books of the Bible and label them as Torah. Ask the group to scan the second paragraph of Chapter 4 and give other names for those five books (the Pentateuch, the Law of God, the Books of the Covenant, the Law of Moses, the Books of Moses, and Moses). Jot down these names on the sheet.

Explore the question of whether or not Moses wrote these five books. Ask volunteers to read aloud the following verses: Genesis 12:6, Numbers 12:3, Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Deuteronomy 31:24, and Exodus 24:4. Discuss:

• What hints do these verses give us about the assertion that Moses himself wrote the Torah in its entirety?

• What do these verses indicate about the writing of the portion of the Bible identified as the Law?

• What does Adam Hamilton suggest as a reasonable hypothesis about the authorship of these books?

Hamilton observes that the Exodus event and the giving of the Law are Israel's defining story. To set the stage for discussing what he identifies as another event influencing the shaping of the Old Testament, print "911" on a large sheet of paper or a board. Invite participants to name the first thing that comes to mind. Prior to September 11, 2001, most people would probably have named the number we call in an emergency. However, since that date, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon likely come to mind first. Form pairs and ask participants to discuss the following question with their partners.

• Where were you on September 11, 2001? What do you remember?

In the large group, discuss participants' memories. How many people remember exactly what they were doing, how they felt when they heard or saw the news, what they were wearing, or what the weather was like?

Ask a volunteer to read aloud 2 Kings 25:1-21. Then invite the group to close their eyes as you read aloud the paragraph in Chapter 4 of the book beginning "It was the summer of 587 B.C."

Adam Hamilton notes the impact of the Temple's destruction on the Jews and invites us to imagine that on 9/11 the entire city of Washington was destroyed, the president was blinded and led away in chains, his family killed, and then the entire nation was overrun with foreign troops. Request participants to keep their eyes closed and imagine such a scenario. Ask:

• How has 9/11 shaped our nation's subsequent history in the past decade?

• If the more catastrophic scenario described above had in fact come to pass, how might that event have changed our lives?

Hamilton observes:

It was during this time [the two decades before the Exile and the subsequent fifty years of exile], many biblical scholars believe, that most of the Old Testament took its final form as the Jews reflected upon their story, sought to make sense of their plight, and focused on once more being God's covenant people.

To get a sense of the Babylonian Exile's influence on the Torah, ask volunteers to read aloud Deuteronomy 31:14-29.


The Old Testament Canon

Explain that the word canon means rule or standard and that canonization is the process by which certain writings came to be included in the Bible. Invite someone to tell how many books are in the Old Testament (we would say 39). Hamilton points out that the number of books in the Old Testament—the Hebrew Scriptures—depends on whom you ask. Jews, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Protestants would each give a different answer.

If they have not already done so, allow a few minutes for group participants to read over the information in Chapter 5, then discuss:

• What are some differences in how Jews and Christians categorize the books of Hebrew Scripture and in how they order them?

• Adam Hamilton notes that history is told from the perspective of the teller in order to meet the needs of people in a given time. For example, what differences does he note in how Samuel and Chronicles tell the story of David?

• Which books would a rabbi call the most authoritative? Which books would you name?

• Hamilton notes that for Jews, books of the Torah convey, in a special way, God's will and purposes for God's people. How do you respond?

Hamilton observes that the process by which the Old Testament documents came to be canonized was a bit messy and that the question of what belongs in the Old Testament is still being debated by some Christians. Invite participants to give an example or two of how the process evolved.


Jesus and the Old Testament

Book Chapter 6 invites us to consider what Scriptures were significant to Jesus. Ask a volunteer to read aloud Luke 2:42-50. Adam Hamilton notes in Chapter 6 that a boy began studying the Scriptures at age five and the Mishnah (the Jewish oral tradition) at age ten so that at age thirteen he could become an adult. Today this is codified as the Bar Mitzvah. Hamilton observes that the three books to which Jesus alludes most often were Psalms, Isaiah, and Deuteronomy, one from each category of the Tanakh.

Form three groups and assign one of the following Scriptures or pairs of Scriptures to each group: Deuteronomy 6 and Luke 4:1-13; Ezekiel 34; and Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 9:9. Ask each group to read the Scripture and the relevant text in book Chapter 6. In the large group, discuss:

• In what ways would you say your assigned passage may have shaped Jesus' understanding of his life and mission?

• Adam Hamilton observes that Jesus' ethic was a call to live in radical obedience to God—both a call to holiness of heart and life and an emphasis on God's grace and concern for sinners. How would you say Jesus both embodied what the Hebrew Scriptures exemplified and imbued them with new meaning?

• How did Jesus himself summarize the Scriptures? (See Matthew 22:37-40.)


Prophecy, the Old Testament, and the Early Church

Invite participants to take turns reading aloud Luke 24:13-34. Adam Hamilton observes that it was in both the breaking of the bread and the hearing of Scripture that the disciples on the Emmaus road encountered the risen Christ. Hamilton reminds us that the Scriptures Jesus was interpreting were Hebrew Scriptures of Moses and the prophets. The early church, in reading those Scriptures, saw them through the lens of the resurrected Christ. To see an example of how Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in the New Testament, invite someone to read aloud Matthew 1:18-25.

Have someone else read aloud the paragraph in book Chapter 7 beginning, "But grab your Bible and open it to Isaiah 7 and look at the context," and then have someone read Isaiah 7:14. Ask the group to read silently Hamilton's subsequent paragraphs, which give information about the passage. Ask:

• Within the context in which Isaiah was written, who do you think is the young woman to whom the passage refers? Is it Mary the mother of Jesus or someone else?


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Making Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton. Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

To the Leader,
Section One: The Nature of Scripture,
1. Making Sense of the Old Testament Introduction; Book Chapters 1–7,
2. Making Sense of the New Testament Book Chapters 8–13,
3. Questions about the Nature of Scripture Book Chapters 14–18,
Section Two: Making Sense of the Bible's Challenging Passages,
4. The Bible and Science Book Chapters 19–21,
5. Violence, Suffering, and Other Troubling Issues Book Chapters 22–26,
6. Wrestling with Issues of Sexuality and Relationships Book Chapters 27–32,

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