Questions of Faith

Questions of Faith

On the next two Sundays, the 23rd and the 30th, we catch up on some of the Questions of Faith that have not yet been answered. Over the course of these two weeks, Pastor Bob and Pastor Christopher – joined on the 30th by Adam, a seminarian and candidate for ministry – will take questions range from intricate theology to tax law!

It is it good to ask questions in our faith life, to wrestle with our understanding of God’s presence and call in our lives. And to do so in community helps us to a broader understanding of the knowledge we seek.

James 3:13-4:3,7-8 (CEB) – for 9/23
13Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. 14However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. 15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. 16Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil. 17What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. 18Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts.

1What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your cravings that are at war in your own lives? 2You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask. 3You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings.

7Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 8Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Psalm 124 (CEB) – for 9/30
1If the Lord hadn’t been for us – let Israel now repeat! – 2if the Lord hadn’t been for us, when those people attacked us 3then they would have swallowed us up whole with their rage burning against us! 4Then the waters would have drowned us; the torrent would have come over our necks; 5then the raging waters would have come over our necks!

6Bless the Lord because he didn’t hand us over like food for our enemies’ teeth! 7We escaped like a bird from the hunters’ trap; the trap was broken so we escaped!

8Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Consider these questions:

  1. Have you questioned God? Have you questioned Jesus? Have you questioned religion as a whole?
  2. How does it feel to question these things? Do you think it’s ok to ask these questions?
  3. What do you think about this congregation taking time in many worship services for leaders to address questions such as these?

Post-Sermon Update on 9/25

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

Sunday’s message time included four Questions of Faith with responses from Pastor Bob and Pastor Christopher.

  1. “I heard this statement: ‘The difference between Grace & Mercy is: Grace is when God gives you what you deserve; Mercy is when God doesn’t give you what you deserve.’ Do you agree?” (beginning at the 1:29 mark in the audio and the 31:09 mark in the video)
  2. “How to pray for one’s enemies as exhorted in Matthew 5:43-48?” (beginning at the 8:01 mark in the audio and the 37:41 mark in the video)
  3. “In the midst of all the sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic church, where does it state in the Bible that Priests have to/need to be celibate?” (beginning at the 13:13 mark in the audio and the 42:53 mark in the video)
  4. “In Romans 11, Paul says that God ‘knew in advance’ or ‘foreknew” (NRSV) about Jewish people. Does this imply Calvin’s predestination doctrine? Or is God not in control of everything and able to be surprised?” (beginning at the 20:36 mark in the audio and the 50:16 mark in the video)

With these questions, there is much to explore! I would invite you to consider both the pastoral responses to these as well as your own understanding of scripture and theology.

Consider these questions:

  1. Do your understandings line up with the responses given? Do you disagree?
  2. What (if anything) did you learn from these questions and responses?
  3. How would you like to grow in your own approach to scriptural and theological understanding?

Post-Sermon Update on 10/1

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

Like last Sunday, this week’s message time included Questions of Faith with responses from Pastor Bob and Pastor Christopher. We also added the voice of Adam Marshal-Lopez, a ministry candidate and seminarian from this congregation.

But the questions started during our children’s time (which can be only be found in our video stream, beginning at the 19:17 mark). The primary question had to do with the history of the site where PB UMC currently stands. Part of the response included the reminder that the buildings for our Social Hall and Education/Admin buildings were former barracks buildings from Camp Callan. A helpful member found this Wikipedia article on Camp Callan!

During the message time, we examined these questions:

  1. “When we die, are we ‘asleep’ in Christ until the second coming & this Earth is our heaven or do we go straight to heaven? Of course I’m presumptuous we are all going to heaven.” (beginning at the 2:21 mark in the audio and the 28:37 mark in the video)
    • The response to this question noted a reference to this sermon from 2016.
  2. “When does the soul first enter the body? Before the moment of birth or sooner?” (beginning at the 8:07 mark in the audio and the 35:19 mark in the video)
  3. “When did Evangelical Christians become the Evangelical Political Party?” (beginning at the 20:32 mark in the audio and the 47:46 mark in the video)
  4. “The IRS won’t allow churches to campaign for political candidates and keep their tax exempt status. What about propositions, though? For instance, to fund homeless housing or for marriage inclusion? What’s the law, and Methodist discipline, and theology on this?” (beginning at the 24:47 mark in the audio and the 51:59 mark in the video)

Consider these questions: (note: This is the same invitation to consider the pastoral responses as from the previous week noted above)

  1. Do your understandings line up with the responses given? Do you disagree?
  2. What (if anything) did you learn from these questions and responses?
  3. How would you like to grow in your own approach to scriptural and theological understanding?

One Comment

  1. Patty Riddle

    I think the only way for a religion to make sense is to offer people the option to question, because I believe there are various ways to God. Otherwise that religion makes the mistakes of other religions which say, “You must believe our way; ours is the only way.” I would not be at this church if we did not question, and if the congregation was told, “This is the only way.” However, as far as I’m concerned, the various ways to God must include love, justice and be “peaceful, gentle, obedient [not blindly but thoughtfully] , filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine.”

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