Part 1 of a 10-part series

Recent court decisions have raised questions about how to read and interpret both law and scripture. Disagreement about the right way to do so is being passionately debated in each discipline; even Supreme Court judges are stepping out of their normal posture of polite and measured disagreement to make rather strong declarations in criticism. The claim of each is no less than an assertion that their colleagues lack the basic understanding of how to interpret the law. Meanwhile, Jewish and Christian leaders, unharnessed from concerns for collegiality by the importance of their disagreement over what the bible may or may not say about marriage and sexuality, are almost ranting as they take their positions.

Little noted is the fact that the different ways the law and the scripture get interpreted is rather closely matched. That is, the modes of interpretation are pretty much the same for each. For example, there are legal analysts who read constitutional law as “strict constructionists,” and there are biblical analysts who read scripture by using a matching school of interpretation.

This should be of significant interest generally, given the ever-pressing question of how religion and society relate, and therefore the importance of how the disciplines of law and theology may clash and match. In particular the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court regarding the language of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and the decision to recognize the constitutional right and equality of marriage between people either of the same or of the opposite sex has highlighted the different ways the judges read constitutional law, and the matching ways Jewish and Christian leaders interpret scripture.

(Do the personal opinions arise from the school an analyst chooses or do the personal opinions dictate the most effective analytical way to reach them? Either way, it is important for people of faith to understand, and even to choose, how to read and interpret scripture.)

Perhaps it will be interesting to approach the Christian interpretation of scripture related to same-sex marriage, and other issues of particular relevance to LGBT persons, through a comparison, on the one hand, of the modalities of interpretation of constitutional law and, on the other hand, of the constitutional foundation of the faith in scripture. Read More…

The church is constantly discovering the Gospel. In each era the People of God seem to wake up to see a Gospel imperative as though it is new, with eyes that seem to pop open. How, it will be asked, was this missed before – something so obvious, something so demanding! And yet, there it is, God’s will for society to lift oppression, to demand better treatment of some class of persons, or to do something in care of God’s creation that simply wasn’t recognized before but becomes apparent.

Slavery stands as one of the most obvious examples of this dynamic. Civilization was built on the backs of slaves, and this was true all over the world. At any given time in history the people who enjoyed citizenship in one of the civilized cultures would not have been able to imagine any other way to be the people they were – Babylonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, you name it – than through the use of slaves. Only gradually did another notion take hold of the imagination of societies, the recognition that freedom, the freedom enjoyed by the slave-users was a precious human right to be held and exercised by everyone. Finally, and only after the idea of equality and freedom had taken hold and began to make its way forward, the church seemed to come to its senses and was forceful in convincing its societies to reject the entire institution of slavery.

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By Bill Lohr

FCBH with children in the Philippines

Originally known as Hosanna, Faith Comes By Hearing began as a small tape lending library in the fall of 1972. Prior to establishing the Albuquerque-based ministry, founders Jerry and Annette Jackson had done missionary work across the desert southwest, traveling with their four children in a 1954 GMC school bus. The Jackson’s felt God calling them to “bring My church together and make disciples.” The Jacksons have experienced the highs and lows of a ministry that came from humble beginnings and is now the largest producer of foreign language audio Bibles in the world.  

Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) approaches its 40th anniversary in November with audio scripture recorded in 683 languages, which combined are spoken by well over 5 billion people – a number representing two-thirds of the world’s population. 

“We never could have imagined the direction the Lord would take this ministry when we first got started,” states Jerry Jackson, founder and president of FCBH. “We simply have done our best to allow Him to work through us – even our weakness and imperfection – and He has been faithful.” Read More…

Children of “A Wandering Aramean

(Deut 26:5)


The three great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share common roots. These go deeper than the texts that are accepted by two or more of the faiths, such as the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and the traditions that are commonly claimed, such as the prophetic. The cultural impetus that gave rise to each of the three faith communities is strikingly similar, and this is so even though they blossomed in very different cultures. The time has come for each community of faith to recognize in the commonality of their origins a common religious mission to society and culture and a common challenge of reform.

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