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Can I Get Some Help From My Ex-c Friends? I'm Teaching A Comparative Religion Class And Could Use Advice Re: Bible


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I am teaching a Sunday School class at the Unitarian church and will be leading the discussion about Christianity. This class is for 6th graders, many of whom are really not that acquainted with the fine points of Christianity. I am teaching some basic basic stuff here.

 

We will have just completed the topic of Judaism and will spend about 4 weeks on Christianity. Just to give you the big picture, we have visited an Ashram, and done a unit on Unitarianism. In the winter, we will study Islam and the Asian religions and then the earth religions. So it is comprehensive in scope but not at all in depth - keep in mind, this is for kids and it has to be fun :-)

 

I have an idea for an activity for the Christianity unit. We will pass out Bibles, different versions. The kids will take turns reading the same passage in its varying versions. Then we will all take a whack at interpreting that passage. Of course the point is that the meaning, and the author's intention, is difficult to discern, and each individual reader may have their own slightly different take on the passage's meaning.

 

I want to demonstrate the subjectivity of interpretation and the difficulty of establishing a consistent doctrine based on the Bible, thus the many many denominations of Christianity. We will then later take a list of ALL the various Christian denominations and tape it together into one long long long list.

 

So, can any of you familiar with the Bible suggest a good passage? Maybe from the NT if possible?

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That's an interesting undertaking. It can certainly be useful for those kids to learn early that the idea of "the correct" interpretation of the Bible is a total myth.

 

Doctrinal differences are also a lot about what passages you want to emphasize and which passages you ignore or downplay. How about the passage about hating your mother and father for the kingdom? (I'm sorry I don't have the exact reference ). It's interesting to see how they wriggle out of things. Or what about not picking up fire wood on the sabbath? What about the sabbath itself? There are many many controversies over those particular issues. Mode of baptism comes to mind - is it part of salvation? Do you sprinkle, pour or immerse?

 

These are just off the top of my head ideas.

 

Good luck! Sounds like a neat project.

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As I recall the Lord's prayer probably has the most textual variants and would be the most interesting considering who said it, why and the importance placed upon it. Wikipedia should be enough to get you started.

 

mwc

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I think this would be interesting.........The whole 'issue' of 'born again''......Should get some interesting responces.........

 

John 3: 1-19

 

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

 

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

 

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

 

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

 

8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

 

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

 

13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e]14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f]15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

 

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20

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Teach them how Christianity is built on the notion of sacrifice as a means of salvation when their own bible OT, and NT, some prophets and disciples of Jesus, teaches that religious practices of the law was never given to them by god but that their religious practices are vain worship because traditional practices are taught as a means to please god. God claims, in the bible, that he desires mercy and not sacrifice. Scribes added the law to religious text so that the Priests held power over the people. In spite of this warning, by Jeremiah, the people still persist in their religious instruction on tradition instead of remembering mercy for those in need.

 

 

(Jer 7:8) Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot do any good.

 

(Jer 7:22) For I did not speak to your fathers, nor command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.

 

(Jer 7:24) But they did not listen, nor bow their ear, but walked in their own plans, in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.

 

(Jer 7:28) But you shall say to them, This is a nation which does not obey the voice of Jehovah their God, nor receives instruction; truth has perished, and is cut off from their mouth.

 

(Jer 5:30) A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;

 

(Jer 5:31) The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

 

Mar 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

 

Mar 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

 

Mat 15:8-9 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

 

Mat_9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

 

Hos_6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

 

Teaching the ten commandments do no good. Mercy is what god expects, a belief in Jesus as the Messiah is the wrong message. The whole story of god wiping out humanity is a myth. God did not drive Israel to genocide, it was what Israel wanted to do, so they did it. Murdered the inhabitants of the land for their land. Now the myth is created that they have a right to 'their land' given to them by a god who lead them out of Egypt. There are no stories of Moses beyond religious teaching, holy books. Moses is a myth. Exodus never happened historically. The religion is based up traditional teachings that all of this stuff is true when all this stuff is myth. Jesus is based upon these OT myths. Christianity is a cut and paste religion of traditional instruction that every thing is true and without error. That is the tradition Christianity continues to employ, the teachings of traditional myths as truth.

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I think the following verses (and others) fairly characterize some fundamental notions of Christianity. These deal with how one is saved and they have formed some of the most important divisions in the Christian church and resulted in numerous denominations, each of which disagrees with the others and yet each has scriptural support:

 

Arminian View (Grace through faith in Jesus is all one needs for salvation - John Wesley and the Methodists as an example):

 

22 This righteousness is given through faith inJesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

 

Romans 3:22-24

 

Roman Catholic view that it also requires some sort of good works:

 

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 

James 2:14-17

 

Calvinist View of Predestination or Election (Baptist Churches as an example):

 

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

 

Ephesians 1:4-6

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Taking a little further what OF mentioned, Abraham is used by both Paul and James to prove opposite beliefs about whether keeping the law or works are necessary for salvation, or if just believing in God is necessary. The Scriptures which can be used for my argument are Romans 3:27 to Romans 4:3 as opposed to James 2:20-24.

 

Another thing that might be interesting is the mis-use of OT verses by Matthew to "prove" Jesus was the Messiah. Sure, when you go back to the OT, yep, that's what the verse says, but when read in context, it isn't talking about the Messiah at all. I know you mentioned staying in the NT, but it is interesting also to look at Scriptures from the OT which do talk about what a coming Messiah will do, and how Jesus obviously didn't fulfill any of it. Thus the invention of the second coming to fix all those problems.

 

Just as a footnote, those things mentioned above is what led me out of Christianity.

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  • 2 months later...

So this has been going well. We have visited a few churches, including the mega church at Liberty University (4500 in attendance that day!). Today we are doing a Jefferson Bible exercise - cutting out the wacky parts of the Bible just as Jefferson did. I will write more about the class at another time.

 

Can I ask for more suggestions? As part of the class, we will have a guest who self-identifies as an atheist. There seem to be no lesson plans out there for this class! I am trying to come up with activities for the kids along the theme of atheism - one is to have cards printed with descriptions of various gods, and then in a pin the tail on the donkey way, have a kid pick a description of an unnamed god and try to match it with the religion it goes with. Part of the point is 1. the various gods that are claimed by the various religions and their amusing and colorful characteristics and 2. the similarity of some gods, ie identical claims for supreme truth but totally different religions.

 

Also, I have a list of gods: it numbers in the THOUSANDS - we can tape it together and see how many times it encircles the room.

 

The point will be

 

- with so many gods, how can one choose the correct one? Point out how one's culture and tradition make that choice for you. - how many gods have faded into obscurity, forgotten forever except in Comparative Religions classes ;-)

- how Christianity, for example, chooses just one of these many many gods, and how atheism finds one fewer of these gods to be believable.

 

 

Thanks, people.

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Something else you could do is take it from a constructivist approach. Divide the class into small groups of 4 or 5. Then have each of them collaborate to create their own religion. Perhaps they can complete a matrix of : # of gods, what god(s) is/are like, the rules, the unwritten rules, the rituals, and if missionary behavior is required. Then the next week, have the groups revisit their religions and have each group send out a missionary to another group.

 

Hmmmm. This could be fun! wicked.gif

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Ooooh. Then have the little groups wage war on one another to prove their god(s) are the most powerful! It's a great way to end the course.

 

mwc

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Good suggestions! I think we may do a create-your-own-religion activity, thanks!

 

BTW if anyone is interested in seeing the lesson plan I developed on Atheism and Humanism, I will share it.

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