Faith Beyond Belief

SheepGoatWe will begin our discussion this Sunday morning by looking a chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel. There Jesus provides a view of the final judgment, but surprisingly does not even mention the issue of belief. Instead, he gives examples of caring for the oppressed.

We will then look at some examples of the Greek phrase πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, often translated as “faith in Jesus Christ”, and explore how our understanding of those passages would be different if we understood that key phrase in a way that numerous biblical scholars are currently saying would be more faithful to its ancient meaning.


Fragmento_filemonOn Sunday we will read the letter of Paul to Philemon. This letter has been read as supporting slavery (Paul sent Onesimus, a runaway slave, back to his master) and as an argument against slavery (Paul told Philemon not to treat Onesimus as a slave any longer, but as a brother).

How would Paul’s argument have been read in a society that accepted slavery as a given with little objection? What role did this letter play in the debates over slavery in this country in the 1800s? What value does it have for today’s church?

Join us for a lively discussion.

Presentation on the Hagar Stories

I have uploaded the presentation I used this morning in the class on Hagar. You can access it here.

Some of you asked where you could get a copy of the poem we read. I have to acknowledge that I misspoke in attributing the poem to Edmond Lewis. It was written about her, inspired by her statue of Hagar.  Tyehimba Jess published the ekphrastic  poem under the title “Hagar in the Wilderness” in Poem A Day, a digital poetry series containing over 200 poems by contemporary poets. You can read “Hagar in the Wilderness” there (Just click the title of the poem to get there).

If you would like to read more about Edmonia Lewis, you can find short overviews at either or The Smithsonian also has a nice short article on her. contains a slightly more detailed treatment.

I look forward to seeing all of you again next Sunday. Allen Davidson will be leading the discussion.

Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10)

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Vision of Cornelius

On Sunday we will discuss the story of Peter and Cornelius in the tenth chapter of Acts. Who is the central character of this story? Peter? Cornelius? What did the author expect us to infer about the two?

You can read the text here.

I hope you can join us at 9:30 in the morning.