January 29, 2006

John Neufeld - “Do You Understand What You're Reading?”

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Sermon Recording: Download


Dr. John Neufeld (former pastor of First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg and President of CMBC) spoke on difficulties we encounter when attempting to understand the Bible. John reminded us that the Church predated the New Testament (even predated house groups informally circulating Paul's letters) and Judaism predated the earliest manuscripts for any of the books now included in the Old Testament. For considerable periods of time, believers had to keep their faith alive in the absence of the written words of guidance. But as the centuries passed, individuals set their thinking in writing, producing all types of literature: poetry, history, letters, prayers, proverbs, parables, and rules. Eventually, believers sensed that some of these were more helpful than others, and later still, church leaders arbitrarily determined which writings were sanctioned and which were excluded. In order to understand this rich variety of information, one is helped by remembering the type of literature it represents (do not look for historical fact in parables, or for codified rules of behaviour in prayers). The Bible has been created, bit by bit, by believers in Judaism and the early Christian church, each portion of text being preserved for a specific purpose. Revelation, which was likely written as encouragement to the young but heavily persecuted Church, has many poetic concepts which transcend both cultural differences and the passing of time, and still offer encouragement to our generation. Nobody ever reads the Bible without our own layers of interpretation conceived from our personal heritage and experiences, but when we study the Bible collectively, we can often come to a more balanced understanding. The Ethiopian (Acts 8) did not understand Isaiah on his own, and we likely get a better understanding when working on passages together. This was a helpful talk, at a time when Bible literacy is in decline. [JEK]


Passage: Acts 8:26-39
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event:
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: John Neufeld
Worship Leader: Carmen Dyck
Song Leader: J Evan Kreider
Pianist: Ruth Enns
Usher: Erika Hannan
Zoom Coordinator:
Children's Feature Leader:


Bring Flowers: ANNIE FUNK
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