I wish we could do a Q&A after every message but hopefully this is the next best thing.
Q - I think I heard you say that there was no bias in the Bible. Although I do believe that the bible is divinely inspired and is in its original form; God's word, I have trouble believing that any interpretation that I read is not biased. I do believe that the King James version was slanted to fit the church of England's objectives, and not necessarily exactly what God had in mind when the original was put into human control. I know that I also interpret many passages to fit some of my beliefs...I do believe that God created all, but I think it took more than 7 days in what our current time measurement system would count as 7 days. Please tell me how the Bible that I am able to read is not biased.
A - Not sure I can because I agree with your analysis. All translations and interpretations (and ALL translations interpret) are biased. There is, of course, a bias of belief and a godward bias even in the original, inspired text. This is a fascinating but very complex area of study. The fact is that bias is unavoidable, yet we are able to communicate with each other and God is able to communicate his message in his Word.
Some of the people who devote their lives to this kind of thing come to such wacky conclusions that they eventually lose touch with reality. I took a directed study in my doctoral program at Boston U from a professor/scholar who believes the original meaning texts like the Bible or the Constitution are impossible to recover, and the best we can do is speak of "what it means to me." It's called a "deconstructionist" approach to understanding and has its roots in linguistics and philosophy. In spite of his position, my professor (who was actually a brilliant man) expected me to understand his book on the subject. If I had said, "I hear you saying that the original meaning of ancient texts can be recovered," he would have said, "No, that's not what I said." Precisely!
Q - You referenced hades, or a holding place. I have heard something like this from different sermons in different denominations with different names, but am not sure where any of these references come from in the bible. I do believe in Heaven and Hell, I'm not sure where the Bible says that you go to one or the other the second that you die is, but I do believe that believers go straight to heaven upon their completion of life in this world. Can you give me the biblical verses that describe this "inbetween place"?
A - Key texts to look at: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Revelation 20:11-15. The idea of "hades" goes way back in Greek mythology and is not used in the Old Testament. Other conceptions of life after death are used. Jewish literature begins using the term and general ideas around the term during the period between the Old and New Testaments, and the New Testament picks up on this to some degree but reinterprets it. As I look at this I try to remember that heaven and hell are in a dimension of reality that is most likely outside of my ability to truly understand. But God provides the truth that I need to know and that I can actually grasp, and he does it using our human language and culture to communicate it. So there are some very important facts about heaven and hell that he wants me to "get" (e.g., there is a heaven and a hell, you want to go to heaven and you don't want to go to hell, your choices in this life determine your eternal destiny, etc.), but he also wants me to humbly accept there's a lot I can't and won't ever really "get."
Q - How do I address the person who wants to believe in God, but has issues with organized religion?
A - You might offer to read the Bible together. There's an interesting resource for doing this that you can pick up here. You could also invite them to join you for our Story of God small group experience in the fall. It's amazing what happens when someone simply reads the text and understands the framework of the bigger story the Bible tells.
Q - Can you send me the paper on remarriage/divorce?
A - Download it here: Download DivRemarPolAug07.