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Porterbrook | Reading God's Story Units 1-3


Hey  New City Porterbrookers!

How are you doing with this new module? It is more "heady," to be sure. Some of us are going, "YES! Finally some nuts and bolts of hermeneutics!" and others of us are feeling the urge to quit because we've looked up 5 words on Dictionary.com and we're only on the 2nd page.

This course is meant to stretch us. As Josh shared with us at the orientation, we are naturally drawn to classes or lessons that we have an affinity towards. The theology wonks love the heady stuff, the more compassionate folks love the lessons on mercy, those with a passion to reach the least and lost hedge towards evangelism lessons, etc. But the lesson we most need might very well be the one that is NOT the most tasteful to us.

Let Porterbrook stretch you.

If this module is getting difficult for you, press on. As the apostle Paul wrote: "Therefore, dear brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15.58) Your labor is not in vain! Keep it up!

Regarding this idea of Reading God's Story, I was challenged by the simple thought that "you" can be singular OR plural in English. From what I understand the majority of times we see the word "you" in English it's plural. If only it was translated y'all instead! My default is to read "you" as you singular. How much different is the meaning of a text if it's "y'all" vs. "you" singular! 

So...in the comment section below, what has been particularly challenging, provoking, encouraging, enlightening, as you're reading these first 3 units? 


The anvil Reflections from pp 15-17 may have you wracking your brain until it falls out trying to figure out why the head of John the Baptist story is followed by Christ feeding the 5000 (from bottom of p 15). There may be no reason the stories are in that particular order! Just because the author has read these stories repeatedly to decipher some meaning (first full paragraph on p 17) doesn't mean he is right. The Bible is divinely inspired, not the Porterbrook author.

Working off Paul B's comments about our need to be humble, perhaps we Christians are too close to this Christ character. Let us take a step back & presume little or no knowledge of this Jesus character.

Presume one is either a 1st century individual from the other end of the Roman Empire or a non Christian today in this era of Great Religions with their spiritual leaders.

From just these 2 stories in Mark, one would be told the following:
1) This Jesus character is a moral teacher somewhat like the Greek Stoic & Epicurian philosophers of that day.
2) He has a group of insiders who get private revelations but still don’t understand him.
3) Jesus has supernatural control over storms. Like no human who ever lived.
4) This Christ demands faith of some sort in him from his insiders.
5) Jesus has total power over 4-6K supernatural demons.
6) These demons meekly refer to Christ as “son of the most high God.” Which to a non Jew would mean counterpart of Hercules and much more intelligent. And to a Jew would mean a super Moses and much more, a relative & not just a spokesman of God.

So based simply on these few verses in Mark this Christ character is just another great moral teacher like Muhammad or Confucius? This is beyond stupidity.

Perhaps we should put down the sports section on the chariot races or cricket matches & pay some attention. And perhaps be humble as Paul B notes in the face of knowledge & power beyond our imagination. This is the “son of the most high God” of Moses speaking.

I am admittedly behind in my Po-book homework, thus the late comment on units 1-3. I have found this unit to be exhausting and challenging. After completing the first three units my eyes were crossed and lost my orientation to time and place. It has been a good exercise in letting Scripture speak to me. Particularly insightful today has been the realization that the disciples (Mark 4:35-41) were constantly learning from Jesus in an intimate atmosphere and still lacked the faith to know him as the king of nature and the spiritual world. I was reminded of what a grace it is to have God's spirit lead me onward in assent to Jesus as Lord over all with my heart and mind and body. It must have been painful for the disciples to repetatively fall short of faith in the immanent company of Jesus.

For those also behind, I got a helpful tip from my wife. Rather than completing each exercise listed, simply use the assignment passage to respond to each cues listed in the exercises. That way, by the end of each unit you will have completed good source material you can borrow to excerpt into the final assignment.

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