Tom's Bible Site

The Church
The Gathering



Welcome!  This site will always be under construction and it will probably always represent more of a personal journey than a finished product.  What started out as a way to organize my Sunday school lesson notes has become something that is quite out of control.  I have been generally undisciplined when it comes to completing one thing before starting something else.  There are more than a few pages that are unfinished and just sort of trail off into the scraps of editing.  I am getting better at marking construction zones, however.

The Bible section contains much material that is more properly called Bibliology, that is, the study of the Bible and the text itself.  From there it will contain will contain Bible studies that get more detailed the further you drill down.  There is little of that there now as that has proven to be a much bigger job than I had anticipated and the current structure of the site is not up to the task, even if my scholarship were.  It does contain introductory material about the Bible story, material on the Biblical text, translations and canons of different groups who identify themselves as Christians.  There is also a fairly complete summary of the Jewish scriptures from what I hope is a Jewish perspective.

Meditations are organized topically.  There was a time when I wrote detailed notes that were easy to fill out into essays.  Each series are meant to tie together thematically. 

The Church section was not going to be about the institutional church but was to be about the definition of Christianity.  It turns out to be hard to separate theology from the story of the Church itself so there is more about Church history there than I had expected.  Church History also turns out to be more interesting than I had thought.  It is also more interesting, and probably more useful, to put the discussions on theology that the Church has had into their historical context.  It does trace the history of orthodoxy with biographical information on many early Christian writers.  There are also sections on Heresies.  All of it needs more work.

Religion is a confusing topic to many.  Many think of it as superstition or dogma.  Some look to outward ceremonies.  The religion section is very much under construction but it talks about various theories of religious origin and some timelines to give some historical perspective on human religious traditions.  As also happened in the Church section religious history is not separate from the study of the history of man generally. 

World religions are also explored; It might be that there is such a thing as comparative theology.  If there is, my take on the subject would be found here.

To be clear this site is centered on the following basic points of Christianity (after Hocking):

  1. We are all sinners separated from God and in need of redemption.
  2. Only a relationship with God can enable us to live the life God has intended us to live.
  3. Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Jews, God incarnate, sent here to bring us the message of salvation.
  4. In his death and resurrection, Jesus reconciles us with God.
  5. Jesus is both God and Man.
  6. Jesus rose and ascended into heaven.
  7. Jesus is coming again.

Having said that, I think that there is much here for the Jew.  I have found that what few visitors there have been have come via Hebrew search strings.  If you are a Jew and read on you may well find a different picture of Christianity than that which you have learned at shul.  I believe that Christianity actually does fit better into a Jewish context than either of us were taught.  I know that I have found that some of my favorite expositors of the Tanakh are Orthodox Rabbis.

For those from the cultural Christianity that is a diminishing factor of life in the United States.  The message of Christianity has probably gotten lost in church stuff, denominational squabbles and the defensiveness of those who would rather avoid the message.  I try here to separate the message from the messenger always having in mind that the Church has been far from perfect.

Another important point is made by J. I. Packer "Our business is to present the Christian faith clothed in modern terms, not to propagate modern thought clothed in Christian terms... Confusion here is fatal."  This confusion afflicts much of the modern church.

In true Protestant fashion, I am trying to focus on orthodoxy rather than orthopraxy.  Correct belief rather than correct action.  Confusing the outward actions that we associate with Church with the relationship we can have with God is always a mistake.  It is an equal mistake to completely discount long held traditions.  In the rest of life we understand that the tool is not the final product, it is what is used to do the work.  So it is with the activities we associate with church.  They are not an end in themselves but a means.  Some tools are so basic that they have changed little over time.  Some tools fit better into a context other than our present day.

Being judgmental is a straw man that is often set up to attack Christianity.  In the broadest sense it is not the church or individual Christian who judges rather it is God.  The Church is here to sound the warning.  That warning is offensive and does cause many to run.  The essence of the Christian message is that running and hiding will not solve the problem of sin.  You are free to disagree, run or hide but the consequences of sin remain.

Hypocrisy is another charge that can rightly be leveled at Christians and the Church in general.  It can also be leveled at every other human institution.  Being in the company of all human institutions is not really a good excuse but it is an explanation.  The frailty of the visible church in all its various forms hurts the witness of all Christians. The problem is not new in our day nor is unique to any of the various forms of the Church.  We see that this sort of frailty runs through the Bible story.  Even major characters like Noah, Abraham, Moses and David do not live perfect lives.  They do live lives of faith. 

This site focuses on the Bible and the stories related there.  Woven together in the Bible are stories of judgment and mercy; holiness and sinfulness; separation and restoration. These paradoxes are the essence of the relationship God would have with his creation.  If we seek after God we will find that He is seeking after us.  As seekers, we need to explore these paradoxes understanding that we will never fully come to grips with them.