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Paul Behaving Badly$22.00Add to cart
The apostle Paul was kind of a jerk. He was arrogant and stubborn. He called his opponents derogatory, racist names. He legitimized slavery and silenced women. He was a moralistic, homophobic killjoy who imposed his narrow religious views on others. Or was he? Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien explore the complicated persona and teachings of the apostle Paul. Unpacking his personal history and cultural context, they show how Paul both offended Roman perspectives and scandalized Jewish sensibilities. His vision of Christian faith was deeply disturbing to others in his day and remains so in ours. Paul behaved badly, but not just in the ways we might think. Take another look at Paul and see why this “worst of sinners” dares to say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes$22.00Add to cart
Introduction: Coming To Terms With Our Cultural Blinders
Part One: Above The Surface
1. Serving Two Masters: Mores
2. The Bible In Color: Race And Ethnicity
3. Just Words? Language
Part Two: Just Below The Surface
4. Captain Of My Soul: Individualism And Collectivism
5. Have You No Shame? Honor/Shame And Right/Wrong
6. Sand Through The Hourglass: Time
Part Three: Deep Below The Surface
7. First Things First: Rules And Relationships
8. Getting Right Wrong: Virtue And Vice
9. Its All About Me: Finding The Center Of Gods Will
Conclusion: Three Easy Steps For Removing Our Cultural Blinders?
Resources For Further Exploration
What was clear to the original readers of Scripture is not always clear to us. Because of the cultural distance between the biblical world and our contemporary setting, we often bring modern Western biases to the text. For example: When Western readers hear Paul exhorting women to “dress modestly,” we automatically think in terms of sexual modesty. But most women in that culture would never wear racy clothing. The context suggests that Paul is likely more concerned about economic modesty–that Christian women not flaunt their wealth through expensive clothes, braided hair and gold jewelry.Some readers might assume that Moses married “below himself” because his wife was a dark-skinned Cushite. Actually, Hebrews were the slave race, not the Cushites, who were highly respected. Aaron and Miriam probably thought Moses was being presumptuous by marrying “above himself.”Western individualism leads us to assume that Mary and Joseph traveled alone to Bethlehem. What went without saying was that they were likely accompanied by a large entourage of extended family. Biblical scholars Brandon O’Brien and Randy Richards shed light on the ways that Western readers often misunderstand the cultural dynamics of the Bible. They identify nine key areas where modern Westerners have significantly different assumptions about what might be going on in a text. Drawing on their own crosscultural experience in global mission, O’Brien and Richards show how better self-awareness and understanding of cultural differences in language, time and social mores allow us to see the Bible in fresh and unexpected ways. Getting beyond our own cultural assumptions is increasingly important for being Christians in our interconnected and globalized world. Learn to read Scripture as a member of the global body of Christ.
Strategically Small Church (Reprinted)$15.99Add to cart
Brandon O’Brien helps pastors and church leaders understand that a smaller church is sometimes better than a big one. He demonstrates the strengths of small congregations, including that today’s church “shoppers” want services that are local, personal, and intimate. Also, small churches provide space to nurture close relationships across age and lifestyle barriers, and they facilitate a higher level of commitment from laypeople. And small church budgets are often more effective because of greater efficiency. The Strategically Small Church will encourage small-church pastors in their ministries and challenge them to play to their strengths.