Tuesday 4:30 p.m. Bible Study: WHO IS SAVED?
One of the vexing and perplexing questions for Christians (and many others) of our time is the question of salvation. While the Episcopal Church is remarkably varied and fluid in our ideas about God, Jesus, and salvation, the overarching teaching we share is that Jesus’ work was to proclaim God’s saving love to and for all, even those who seemed to outside of the charmed or blessed circle. As my bishop from Southern Ohio, Tom Breidenthal, said in response to a question from a parishioner who wondered who is saved, the general proclamation is that hell is empty.
You may be surprised at this, as you will have heard other teachings from other Christians. To explore this question: Beginning on January 31 we’ll start with a deep dive into John 3:16, which has been shorthand for some groups to claim Christian and salvational exclusivity. We will then read Rob Bell, Love Wins (Harper One, 2011) and discuss the book as well as responses to the book. Following this, we will read C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (available in many different printings and dates), which is Lewis’s rendering of what hell is—and isn’t. You are invited to join our group—but if you are interested in the topic and cannot meet Tuesday afternoons, we can form a second study group, even by Zoom in the evenings.
Lenten reading: HOW DID THE STORY OF SALVATION UNFOLD IN HOLY WEEK?
For Lent, we will switch gears and read a book that utterly transformed my experience of Lent and especially of Holy Week. We will read The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John Crossan (Harper Collins, 2006), which uses the Gospels to map out Holy Week day by day, noting what happened to the disciples, Jesus, and the others who were participants in the Passion narrative. During Holy Week, we will recall the unfolding of these events. I urge you to read this book during Lent—and if possible to join our Tuesday group—for conversation. And as will our exploration of teachings of salvation, if you are interested in the topic and cannot meet Tuesday afternoons, we can form a second study group, even by Zoom in the evening.
There is so much richness that can deepen our faith and our commitments—even (or perhaps especially) as we raise questions about what happened and what it all means. I’m looking forward to difficult, wonderful, and ultimately life-giving questions.