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crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Bible Stories taught with a Moral

Should bible stories be preached in sermons with a moral - This is what this story means and  for want of an example - this is the moral it is conveying?

In Time With Children , should a moral be taught?

I don't agree with this concept and I am wondering what others think.

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Tyson's picture

Tyson

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crazyheart wrote:

Should bible stories be preached in sermons with a moral - This is what this story means and  for want of an example - this is the moral it is conveying?

In Time With Children , should a moral be taught?

I don't agree with this concept and I am wondering what others think.

 

Then what would be the point. If it is just nice stories people want, they can be taken from anyplace.

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trishcuit

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consumingfire V4.1 wrote:

crazyheart wrote:

Should bible stories be preached in sermons with a moral - This is what this story means and  for want of an example - this is the moral it is conveying?

In Time With Children , should a moral be taught?

I don't agree with this concept and I am wondering what others think.

 

Then what would be the point. If it is just nice stories people want, they can be taken from anyplace.

 

seeler's picture

seeler

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If the story is good there won't be any need for a moral. 

 

When you read (or more likely watch) Old Yellar does anybody have to tell you that sometimes people have to do difficult things?  When you hear the story of a child sharing her lunch with Jesus and he in turn sharing it with 5000, do you have to be told to be generous?     In my opinion attaching a moral tends to weaken the story, rather than strengthen it.  Let the story stand for itself. 

 

Something I noticed a few years ago when I first read 'The Five Gospels' is that many of Jesus' parables were 'red' or 'pink', that is considered authentic, most likely a story Jesus told.  But when those parables were followed by an explanation, the explanation was almost always grey or black - probably something added by the early Christians.  A good story stands on its own - an explanation limits it to what somebody or some group wants it to mean, and may obscure the multitude of meanings possible.

 

graeme's picture

graeme

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I don't like using a story to sell a moral. That sets a tone that is goody goodiness for its own sake, and is a prime reason I stopped going to church for years. Besides, a moral as an abstraction is useless. (we should all be good little boys and girls and do nice things.)

A story is set in a context. You could explain the context - but that takes too long, and is still to abstract. Why the hell should I care if moneylenders of 2000 years ago were charging high rates? Why should I care what the pharisees were like?

Use the stories by all means. But if you don't in some clear way show how they make sense in this 2010 world, you're simply wasting everybodiy's time with third rate entertainment. And that is something Jesus never did.

 

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Dcn. Jae

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crazyheart wrote:
Should bible stories be preached in sermons with a moral - This is what this story means and  for want of an example - this is the moral it is conveying?

 

No. The preaching should be based on the Bible. The preacher shouldn't just use Bible stories willy-nilly as a way to support whatever he wants to say.

 

Quote:
In Time With Children , should a moral be taught?

 

n/a, I'm a Baptist.

Tyson's picture

Tyson

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graeme wrote:

I don't like using a story to sell a moral.................

 

Neither do I. I don't think one can "sell" morals. One can teach a moral lesson (using a Bible narrative for instance) without shoving it down somebody else's throat. However, as I believe that Scripture does teach moral values (among other important issues), God's holy word should be used to impart some moral teaching, in my opinion anyway. Like I said, if one wishes to read a nice, entertaining story to the congregation, I have two bookshelves full of really good books.

 

I believe that it is up to the individual hearer to decide whether or not the moral can be applied to their lives. It is in that sense that I do not believe on can "sell" a moral. One can provide a means to explore the moral. For me, God's word holds truth and I try to live by it, and sometimes I fall short.

seeler's picture

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Jae - are you saying that the minister should simply read the Bible story directly out of the Bible (what translation?) and not say anything more.  Or should she try to explain it, interpret it, and/or relate it to today? 

 

We have the scripture reading - two or more every Sunday.  Yes, from the Bible.  Then the minister delivers a sermon, related to the scripture.  Is that wrong?  

 

Sorry Crazyheart - this doesn't seem to be what you were asking - but I'm trying to understand what Jae means.  I don't believe I have ever heard a minister in the UCC use the scripture willy-nilly to support whatever she wants.  Some ministers are better than others, but every one I've heard in over 60 years seemed to be relating the message from the scripture to the people.

 

Just this past week our minister felt called to step outside the lectionary and deliver a sermon based on the story of the angels visiting Abraham with the message that he and Sarah were to become parents and Sarah laughing.  Their baby was named Isaac.  The minister told us that God gives us laughter and joy, and helps us to see the laughter as well as the tears in our journey through life.   Pretty well related to scripture I would think - oh yes, it was mainly based on the OT reading.  We use the entire Bible for our inspiration.

 

 

 

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This thread can go where it will, seeler.

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Dcn. Jae

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seeler wrote:

Jae - are you saying that the minister should simply read the Bible story directly out of the Bible (what translation?) and not say anything more.  Or should she try to explain it, interpret it, and/or relate it to today?

 

I think he should do the latter. He should start with the Bible story and "unpack" it, explaining what it means, and how we should apply it's teachings to our lives today. What I don't think he should do is start with something he wants to say and then jam in Bible verses that seem to support it.

 

Quote:
We have the scripture reading - two or more every Sunday.  Yes, from the Bible.  Then the minister delivers a sermon, related to the scripture.  Is that wrong?

 

It doesn't surprise me that you read from the Bible. You're a Christian church in a Christian denomination. As to your question, I would consider that the way to go. What we are doing is to read our way through the Bible over a period of five years. We read independently five chapters of the Bible on our own at home, then on Sunday morning one chapter gets read out loud and the Pastor preaches based on that chapter. We also read other passages in church that relate to the chapter being discussed.  

 

Quote:
Sorry Crazyheart - this doesn't seem to be what you were asking - but I'm trying to understand what Jae means.  I don't believe I have ever heard a minister in the UCC use the scripture willy-nilly to support whatever she wants.

 

Then you and I have visited different United Churches. I once went to a service in which the minister's message was designed to single two people in the congregation out as being "evil people." He selectively used scripture passages from the Bible in his effort to prove his point. In time he was made subject for this sermon to... er, how shall I say it... censure by the Presbytery who proceeded to remove him as a minister from your denomination.

seeler's picture

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Oh, I'm sure that there are a few people in ministry who don't belong there.  We hope that by discernment, study, supervised internship, review, etc. this realization will take place and they will use their talents elsewhere.  But sometimes it happens that a minister makes a mistake, or a series of mistakes.  Then we hope that the situation can be dealt with.  I dare say it happens in all denominations.  I seem to remember the local Baptist minister being asked to leave in unsavory circumstances a few years back.  It seems to be that it would be childish to get into an argument over what denomination has the best people in ministry.  I imagine in all denominations there is a wide range of personalities and abilities. 

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seeler wrote:
It seems to be that it would be childish to get into an argument over what denomination has the best people in ministry.  I imagine in all denominations there is a wide range of personalities and abilities.

 

It might also make for a great new reality tv show. We take a religious leader from each of the top 16 denominations, then one by one they vote each other off the show. "I'm sorry, Pastor, your worship leading was wonderful, but your evangelism just wasn't up to snuff, and for that reason you're fired."

GordW's picture

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Trying to reduce most stories (especially Biblical stories and especially parables) to a moral taht can be taught does violence to the story and imposes your view on others about what the story means.  It doesn't let the story speak for itself.  However, it is often safer....

Tyson's picture

Tyson

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GordW wrote:

Trying to reduce most stories (especially Biblical stories and especially parables) to a moral taht can be taught does violence to the story and imposes your view on others about what the story means. 

 

How so?

graeme's picture

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The story can't speak for itself. It was written for an audience thousands of miles away and thousands of years ago. For any audience of people sixty and over, even a story about the home front in the second world war needs a context to be understandable.

The error of the minister who was fired was not to use biblical stories. It was to use them to publicly humiliate people. It was the minister who failed to be a Christian, not The Bible.

Serena's picture

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Bible stories or any other stories can be used to teach a moral.

 

Iron Man 2 can be used to teach a moral.  Many actually.

 

1.  Don't get drunk or you will lose your Iron Man suit  (or something else of value)

2.  Don't be a macho man and try to do everything on your own.

3.  Save yourself before you save the world.

 

So I think just about any story can teach a moral and make you think.

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Yes Serena I agree,  almost any story can teach a moral and make us think.  But wouldn't the best stories teach that moral themselves without someone ending them by saying:  Pay attention now.  That story teaches us that it is important to save yourself before you try to save the world.   Maybe somebody else sees something else in the story. 

 

The Old Yellar story I mentioned above.  To me it says that life can be hard and sometimes we have to do difficult things.    Someone else might see it as affirming that animals are wonderful.  And somebody else says that it teaches us not to love an animal too much or you will be hurt. 

 

Jesus wanted to emphasize what God's love is like, and he told the story that we now call 'the prodigal son'  (the Bible doesn't give it a name)     I've been in countless study groups since I was a child in Sunday School discussing that story.  There is a thread on the Cafe discussing it now.  There is a lot to the story that cannot be summed up in a simple sentence or two saying  "Now listen up, the moral of this story is . . ."

 

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I think that there is a real difference between a parable (such as Jesus told) and a fable.  Fables more or less hit you over the head with a moral.  Usually it's pretty obvious what the moral is; and if by some chance you manage to miss the point, the last line of the story will hammer it home.

Parables, on the other hand, don't have such an obvious moral.  You get sucked into the story, and can draw something from it that fits you.  (Am I a runaway?  Am I an elder brother?  How then shall I treat this person?  How can a father love both of these very different types)  etc. etc.  The questions are many and varied, and the answers can be even more so.

To try to dra a single moral from a parable is rather reductionist.  Sometimes the same story can take on different meanings for you at different stages of life.  (Fables don't do that.  Their morals are always the same.) 

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I absolutely think Bible stories with moral imperatives have a place in worship - I also believe however that it is the clergy's job more to guide the congregation to their own peace and understanding with/of the text, rather than impose their own interpretation as, well, Gospel. Provide a few different entry points to consideration and discussion, some examples of how the text has been used and/or abused, and leave the rest of the work to those listening (not by way of being shopping cart Christians - though we all are if we're honest - but simply so that we all have the opportunity to be mature and considerate in our faith, rather than having someone else do the work for us).

 

Put another way - in regards to scripture, the pastor should provide the outline, which the congregants then can colour in.

airclean33's picture

airclean33

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Hi Redbaron 338- I agree with what you said.  Airclean33

MikePaterson's picture

MikePaterson

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 Heavens! Do i agree with Jae?

 

Clergy should have the resources and have done the work to place Bible readings into their appropriate contexts: cultural, historical, linguistic.  They REALLY have to study, really have to pray, really have to polish their communication skills. (Some, I'm afraid, give the impression of having once put on the collar, and getting bound up with admin and pastoral demands, switching their intellects over to "cruise control".)

 

More people might then know, for example, that Jesus could not have said "I am THE way, THE truth and THE life" because of the way Aramaic, the language he spoke, does not have the definite article "the" in the same way as English: he would have said (and have been understood saying, something like, "I am committed to a journey/moving, I am seeking/devoted to truth, I am living my/this life... everyone must do the same to find God."  It is a universal path, narrow (because distractions are so attractive) but open to all. And it fits with his greater concerns we hear to "love God and love your neighbour as yourself"... (the 'THE' apparently entered via the Greek account; dualisms fascinated the Greeks, the "this" being different from the "that"; Aramaic is much less bothered by those kinds of binary discriminations). The Greek intellectual influence has done a lot to shape the received version we have of the New Testament. The "Sayings of Jesus" (not included in the modern Bible) are almost pure Greek Cynic teachings... and they overlap with some of the sayings of Jesus in the Gospels we do have in the modern canonical Bible.

 

It is not easy these days to find the Truth in the Bible because of the repeated translations and the cultural diversity of the sources and the stages of its development as a document.

 

To untangle these shifts and confusions is to genuinely seek the Truth of the Bible and untangle the core source of its inspiration. Inspiration is not itself sacred, even when it comes from God. It still passes through human hands and minds... and I do not believe human hands, minds and languages are really up to placing God's intentions in our hearts as readily and literally we might like: we have to OPEN our hearts, OPEN our minds and OPEN our imaginations, and use all of the resources we can bring to the understanding of Scripture.

 

Biblical interpreters need to do a LOT of work to get it, and even more to communicate it. I have enormous respect for those who learn Green, Latin, Aramaic and study the cultures and cultural interactions of critical periods in our Bible's history and draw together the themes they discover and debate and place before us. It's work that helps us to connnect more closely with that first great inspiration.

 

 

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