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INTRODUCTION

The joint statement of January 3, 2020 reflecting the recent decision by the United Method Church (UMC) to split over the issue of homosexual practice reveals a Bible engagement crisis in America.  People in the pro-LGBTQ faction and the “traditional” UMC faction each profess to be Christian.  These professing Christians essentially represent that their respective Bible engagement has resulted in diametrically opposed understandings and interpretations of Scripture about homosexual practice.   Yet, the Bible cannot concurrently condone and condemn same-sex marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals as
clergy.  One faction or the other has arrived at an erroneous “understanding and interpretation of Scripture.” 

In this case, the pro-LGBTQ faction has formulated an “understanding and interpretation of Scripture” that is wrong. The Bible engagement practiced by the pro-LGBTQ faction fails to satisfy the biblical standard for Bible engagement. This situation is the epitome of a Bible engagement crisis. 

This article is the first in a series of ten post articles in which I address what I characterize as “The Bible Engagement Crisis in America.”  In this first article, I define “Bible engagement” and present the four steps necessary to evaluate if a situation rises to the level of being a “Bible engagement crisis.” 

In the second article, I will explain that the Bible calls for a 21st Century Christian to engage the Bible. 
In other words, God’s Word mandates a Christian carry out Bible engagement, but such engagement must be consistent with the biblical standard for Bible engagement. 

In the third article, I will analyze 2 Timothy 2:15 to arrive at a foundation for the biblical standard for Bible engagement.  In each one of the fourth through sixth articles, I will look at two actions set forth in 2 Timothy 2:14, 16-26, which is the literary context of 2 Timothy 2:15, that are in contrast to “one approved” who is “rightly handling the word

In the seventh article , I will present a clear definition of the biblical standard for Bible engagement. 

In the eighth article, I explain the reasons the pro-LGBTQ faction uses to support its position. In the ninth article, I explain why the “understanding and interpretation of Scripture” by the pro-LGBTQ faction is biblically wrong.

In the tenth article, I will explain my reasoning for characterizing the UMC split as a Bible engagement crisis.

THE DEFINITION OF “BIBLE ENGAGEMENT”

The website of the American Bible Society has a “Bible Engager’s Blog” (link: https://blog.bible/bible-engagers-blog).   Because the word “engager” has an expansive scope, the term “Bible engagement” aptly describes a believer’s interaction with the Bible.  

A more detailed description of “Bible engagement” is the action a believer takes to establish a genuine connection with God through what the Bible reveals.  Exemplary ways to engage the Bible include studying, reading, meditation, or listening.  As one can appreciate, each one of these ways requires a different level of effort and takes place at a different depth. 

There is a biblical standard for Bible engagement.  In other words, when a Christian engages the Bible, there is a biblically-based standard he or she needs to satisfy to achieve a genuine connection with God.  The reason I say “genuine” is any connection with God must be consistent with the teachings in
the Bible.  Later in this series, I will define the biblical standard for Bible engagement.


FOUR STEPS TO EVALUATE IF THERE IS A BIBLE ENGAGEMENT CRISIS

believe there are four basic steps to evaluate if a situation like the UMC split rises to the level of being a Bible engagement crisis.

First, we need to the activities and actions that comprise “Bible engagement.”   I have accomplished that in this article.

Second, we need to understand what the Bible teaches about the outcome of engaging the Bible.  Through this step we define the biblical standard for Bible engagement.  In the second article, I present that the Bible teaches that a Christian must carry out Bible engagement.   Please keep in mind that Bible engagement must satisfy a biblical standard.  In the third through seventh articles, I present the biblical foundation for, and define, the biblical standard for Bible engagement.

Third, we need to evaluate a situation and its inherent Bible engagement to determine if the biblical standard for Bible engagement has been satisfied.  In the eighth article, I explain the reasons why the interpretation advanced by pro-LGBTQ faction fails to satisfy the biblical standard for Bible engagement. 

Fourth, if an outcome of Bible engagement fails to meet the biblical standard, we must evaluate whether such a failure rises to the level of a crisis.  In the ninth article, I set forth the reasons why the circumstances surrounding the UMC split is a Bible engagement crisis.

In my next post, I will show how the Bible teaches that a 21st Century Christian must practice Bible engagement. 

Please send me any comments to steve@stevebelsheim.com or use the comments feature of the blog.

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