RELIGION ROUNDTABLE

For teaching and for correction

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The role of the Bible, or “the Scriptures,” in daily life is clearly stated in the above verses. God gave us the Bible because He wants us to know how to live our lives.

The Bible is profitable for doctrine, or for teaching. What we believe and teach about God comes from the Bible.

The Bible reproves us. If we are to bear God’s image, we will need straightening.

Proverbs 9:8 shows us that there are two possible reactions to reproof. The fool will scoff at the presentation of sin, but the wise man will open his heart to God’s word and humbly seek forgiveness. Proverbs 3:12 reminds us that God’s reproofs are a sign of His abiding love. Today, it is very uncomfortable to reprove someone. Today, we focus on feelings rather than truth.

The Word of God is also profitable for correction. Reproof is discovering what you did wrong, but correction means knowing how to get it right again. And the Bible is what helps you do both. The word “correction” is a word that means “to straighten up.” It has the idea of reforming — of getting it right again — of making a course correction, from going the wrong way to going the “righteous” way.

The Bible instructs us in righteousness. David prays, “Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live” (Psalm 119:144). No wonder God considers instruction in righteousness as infinitely more important than anything else that He could have provided for us in His Word. The righteousness that we learn from Him in the Bible is everlasting, holy and perfect, unlike ours, which is like filthy rags.

The end result of the aforementioned things is to bring forth saints who are perfect, or mature, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

— Bob McClain, Living By Faith Ministry, Oxford

Lessons on how to treat each other

The Jewish bible (also called the Tanakh) is composed of the Torah (the five books of Moses), the Prophets, and the Writings. Viewed in its entirety, the Tanakh is our sacred text and teaches us about interpersonal relationships, the power of community, and the benefits of having a connection with the Divine.

The Bible’s life lessons shorten the distance between our contemporary lives and our ancient text. More importantly, the Tanakh teaches us the necessity of taking care of each other — from those we know to the stranger, orphan and widow in our midst.

Some aspects of the Bible, though, do not make sense or reflect our modern-day views. Some of God’s commandments are no longer pertinent and may even seem archaic. It is at these times that we must remember the words of George Bernard Shaw: “What was given to us by the past must be adapted to the possibilities of the future.”

I fervently believe that using Biblical texts as justification to espouse hate, prejudice or oppression is antithetical to what God, or whoever you believe to have written the Bible, intended.

What is more, it contradicts the very important maxim from Genesis 1:26, that each and every one of us is created in the image of God. This, above all else, is the role of the Tanakh in our daily lives: to teach us to treat each other with kindness, compassion and understanding.

— Rabbi Lauren Cohn, Temple Beth El of Anniston

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