Book Review: The Cutting Room Floor

Book Review – The Cutting Room Floorbook cover

Here is my review of Joel Hoffman’s “The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing From Your Bible“. If you’re serious about Bible study – whether from a secular or religious point of view, you will be well rewarded when reading this book.

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The Bible is Fiction

Rabbi, Dr. Lawrence Hoffman writes,fiction-bible-2

Properly speaking, fiction is a judgment we make about literature, not about truth.  “There are plenty of factually true statements in almost all works of fiction,” says Terry Eagleton (The Event of Literature), “but it is how they function strategically or rhetorically that counts.” If I start by saying “Once upon a time,” I invite you into an exercise in fictionalizing, even if what I say next is altogether fact. “Once upon a time, there was a president named Nixon, and he was almost impeached.” All true! But nonetheless, you wonder, “What’s your point? What moral are you pointing to by making it a ‘once upon a time’ statement?”

fiction-bible-1Christians, especially fundamental ones, often take exception to assertions that the Bible is largely fiction. My response has always been to redirect these objections to a discussion on “how” to read the Bible. To this end, I often cite Prof. David Lose (rhymes with “chose”) from his book, “Making Sense of Scripture: Big Questions About the Book of Faith“. However, this article, The Bible Is Fiction, Rabbi Hoffman explains so well why it is important that it be so.

Please read his post if you’re serious about Bible Study.

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Does God Say Please

Does God Say Please - The binding of Isaac

Gen 22: The Binding of Isaac

The May As It Is Written column is up. Titled “Does God Say Please“, it can be downloaded from here. Previous columns can be downloaded here.

Enjoy

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Selfish Charity

selfish-or-selflessThere will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land (Deut 15:11)

Here’s a great article about how to give charitably. It’s an interview, actually, with Father Sirico (of the Acton Institute) about selfish charity.

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God and Suffering

sumatra_tsunami

David Hart has something to say about God and suffering, especially suffering brought about by devastations of this kind. In this excerpt he recounts the horrors of man-made evil, not natural disasters as was experienced in the wake of the tsunami in the picture above. Nevertheless, suffering is suffering. His is a tough read, but give it a go…

“For all its power, however, Voltaire’s poem is a very feeble thing compared to the case for “rebellion” against “the will of God” in human suffering placed in the mouth of Ivan Karamazov by that fervently Christian novelist Dostoevsky; for, while the evils Ivan recounts to his brother Alexey are acts not of impersonal nature but of men, Dostoevsky’s treatment of innocent suffering possesses a profundity of which Voltaire was never even remotely capable. Famously, Dostoevsky supplied Ivan with true accounts of children tortured and murdered: Turks tearing babies from their mothers’ wombs, impaling infants on bayonets, firing pistols into their mouths; parents savagely flogging their children; a five-year- old-girl tortured by her mother and father, her mouth filled with excrement, locked at night in an outhouse, weeping her supplications to “dear kind God” in the darkness; an eight-year-old serf child torn to pieces by his master’s dogs for a small accidental transgression”. 

How do we deal with this stuff? Well, to begin read his entire essay —  Tsunami and Theodicy and then come to SHLC’s Theodicy class.

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Theodicy Class Announcement

book-cover-god-forsakenBeginning Wednesday, January 29th Sammamish Hills Lutheran Church will be sponsoring a series of classes led by Pr. John LaMunyon that will deal with the the existence of evil in the presence of a good and gracious God.  As our guide, we will follow Dinesh D’Souza’s book, God Forsaken: Is There a God Who Cares.

I2)Editor of this website, Michael is fluent in biblical Hebrew and is the author of the forthcoming book, THE BEGINNING: Genesis 1 Read as Literary Art. will be joining Pastor LaMunyon, who will offer insights from the book of Job and other relevant texts from the Holy Scriptures.  Each session will begin with a discussion taken from Mr. D’Souza’s book and then will be followed by a reading and discussion of some applicable biblical texts — but especially focusing on the book of Job. The discussions which ensue are sure to be rich and broad reaching. For example,

  • In 1970 500,000 lives were lost in Bangladesh as a result of the Bhola cyclone. One half of one million people wiped from the face of the earth. What was God thinking?tsunami-destruction
  • Betty lost her husband to a slow death from a horrible disease, all the while trying to be faithful, but, in the end, wondering, “How could my God allow this to happen?”
  • Joe grew up in a household which lacked nothing, went on a mission trip to a developing country where he encountered true poverty, disease, filth, malnutrition, and homelessness for the first time in his life.  Although some in his group came home energized in their faith and eager to do more, Joe was left with a pit in his stomach and many questions of God’s justice.
  • holocaustSix million Jews lost their lives under Hitler’s anti-Semitic genocide. The Jews were God’s chosen people. How could He have let this happen?

The existence of tragedy and moral evil in the presence of loving God is one that is as old and puzzling as the book of Job.  Many answers have been given, but even more questions remain.  In his book, “God Forsaken,” Dinesh D’Souza elegantly answers these questions in a compelling and refreshingly non-technical way.

TIMES  9:30am (Fellowship Hall); 7:00pm (Sanctuary Basement)
READING Schedule is up on the church website: www.shlc.org and the weekly worship bulletin. Additional, supplementary reading is provided below
QUESTIONS OR REQUESTS FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION?  Contact Pr. John, Lead Pastor or Michael Peterson

Sponsored by:

SAMMAMISH HILLS LUTHERAN CHURCH
22818 SE 8th Street, Sammamish, WA 98074
(425) 392-7799 Fax (425) 392-7897
WEB:  http://www.shlc.org

Contacts:

Pastor John LaMunyon
Member Michael Peterson

Supplementary Reading

Dennis Prager on Reason

Can Reason Alone Lead Us To Goodness and a Good World?

Dennis Prager on Theodicy

Here, Mr. Prager discusses the problem of evil and suffering in the presence of a good and gracious God. Mr. Prager has a radio show that, every Tuesday at 11:00 AM, called the “Ultimate Issues Hour”. Below is an hour dealing with the ultimate issue of why God permits evil to exist. It’s about 35 minutes in length and contains some very interesting discussions between Dennis and his callers.

Part I   Part II   Part III   Part IV

Leibniz on Theodicy

Here’s an interesting and brief and highly summarized description of how Leibniz, the famed mathematical philosopher, responded to theodical arguments.

Leibniz’s Theodicy

From David B. Hart,

Tsunami and Theodicy

Some Relevant Scripture for Reflection

Isaiah 45:7 (my translation)

Forming light and creating darkness
making peace and creating calamity
I am the LORD making all these things

Amos 3:6 (my translation)

If a horn sounds in a city,
will its people not tremble?
If a calamity [befalls] a city,
is the LORD not the cause?

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References

1, 2. Editor of this website, Michael is fluent in biblical Hebrew and is the author of the forthcoming book, THE BEGINNING: Genesis 1 Read as Literary Art.
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Women in the Bible: What the Bible Really Says

Women in the Bible have long been thought, incorrectly, as playing a role subordinate to than of men. In this podcast, I argue that the biblical witness when rightly understood, reveals that the degree to which human cultures flourish depends directly on the extent to which it values women as something other than servants or companions to the man.

This post begins with a more accurate translation of Genesis 2:20 – perhaps the most frequently cited verse when issues of male-female relationships are in view. In the podcast below, I discuss the translation in largely non-technical terms. The podcast closes with examples from the biblical narratives illustrating the feminine ideal of the salvific roles played by women.

Genesis 2:20

And the man called out names to all the beasts, and to all the flying creatures of the sky, and to each living thing of the field. But for the man a savior was not found for him

Women and the Flourishing of Mankind (9 minutes)

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