For this field experience, I interviewed my pastor at my church about the values taught by Jesus in the bible. The reason why I did this was to get a better understanding of religion and its interpretations for my presentation of my 9/11 memorial idea. When I asked him questions about the ideals taught, he gave me some very interesting responses, they are included below.
1. Are there any ideas expressed in the Bible that you’ve noticed people find to be controversial? If not, in your opinion do you think that there are any ideals like that?
Yes, very much so. For years the Bible has been used to support the subordination of women and the condemnation and oppression of homosexuality. Actually, the Bible was once used to support slavery as well. All of these are clearly controversial issues. There are also parts of the Bible that describe events that we would today call genocide or ethnic cleansing. I consider these part controversial.
2. Do you think that some people tend to take the stories of the Bible as life lessons rather than a guideline? If so why?
Personally, and in my work as a religious leader, I do not take the Bible literally across the board. I think it is much more important to look for theological messages and lessons than to use the Bible as a rule book or guidebook. If we took 100% of the Bible literally, Christianity would be very different.
3. Do you think that Jesus’ miracles provoke an idea of the existence of supernatural abilities? If so why, if not, why not.
Jesus’ miracles are certainly described as supernatural activities. This is another place where some people tend to think more about the meaning behind the stories than focus on whether or not such miracles could happen. I don’t think that there is any way to know for sure if those miracles hapened or not. I know that in my experience, supernatural miracles are not common. But, I tend to believe that there is a lot in the world that we cannot understand or explain.
4. Do you think that in some cases in the Bible people feel they have embrace the lessons of Jesus to feel good as people? If so why, if not, why not?
I guess I do think that people embrace Jesus’ message to feel better about themselves, other people, and the world.
5. As a youth minister, do you think that the ideas in the Bible if taken too literally, could be harmful lessons to children? If so why, if not, why not?
Yes, very much so. For example, the Bible is against inter-racial marriage, but I don’t think that following that is good for today. The Bible lists a bunch of sins as punishable by death that we don’t follow today, and I’m glad we don’t. For example, I don’t think we should stone people for breaking the sabbath or dishonoring their parents. I also don’t believe that we should teach that same gendered sex or relationships are wrong, which the Bible does teach. I believe that we need to be very careful how we interpret the Bible. Our culture is very different from the culture of the Bible. And I think that our community of faith and our understanding of God has developed over the thousands of years since the Bible was written.
6. If you could ask Jesus one question about his methods, miracles, etc. What would you ask him?
I would ask Jesus if his understanding of himself and what he was sent to do is similar to what is described in the New Testament. I would also ask him if any expression of the church has actually got things right, as he intended them to be.