Discussion (1): Life & Faith in Revelation
Revelation deals with ultimate things—the end of time, the fate of the world, the return of Jesus, the final judgment, the new creation. Thus, it deals with the topics of Life and Faith in similarly ultimate terms. It portrays that kind of life that not only lasts forever but that is fit for the goodness and holiness of eternity. It deals with the kind of faith that it takes to confess one’s faith even in the face of death. As you read through Revelation looking for passages relevant to Life and Faith, keep this dimension in mind. The Life we see in Revelation is not so much a promise as a reality portrayed in vivid detail, and the Faith it takes to reach that Life is intense and loyal.
Upon successful completion of the course material, you will be able to:
• Explain aspects of God’s gifts and our response in Revelation.
Don’t forget to consider including something from Revelation in your final paper on Life and Faith in the New Testament.
1. Read the book of Revelation.
2. Identify two passages from Revelation that are relevant to the topics of Life and Faith. You should touch on each theme in your post. These do not need to come from two different books.
3. Compose an initial post of 200-250 words that identifies your passages and explains where and how you see the themes of Life and Faith at work in each of them. You do not need to quote the entire passage, but you should use specific pieces of each passage in your explanation. Post this by day four of the workshop.
4. Overall, your posts should:
1. Stay focused on the topics set forth in the discussion prompt.
2. Be posted on at least three different days of the workshop.
3. Use good grammar and clear writing, citing sources that you have used.
Discussion (2): Life and Faith in My Study of the New Testament
You have come to the final activity of the class. You have put in a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual effort over the past several weeks engaging with the inspired and inspiring words of the New Testament. We have traced the themes of Life (God’s gifts to us) and Faith (our response to God’s gift) throughout the various blocks of the New Testament (the Synoptic Gospels, Luke-Acts, Paul’s Letters, the Writings of John, and Revelation). In this last discussion, you will pull together a few different aspects of our study throughout the course and reflect on your own journey over the past several weeks.
Upon successful completion of this discussion, you will be able to:
• Reflect on the study of life and faith in the New Testament
This assignment will ask you to do two important tasks: synthesize and reflect. Sometimes we throw those words around like we all know what they mean and entail. That often leads to misunderstandings and shallow thinking, so let’s look at each task in a bit of depth.
When we “synthesize,” we mean to bring various parts together in a coherent whole. That sounds easy enough, but there are a number of ways to go about this task. Let’s talk through a few.
• The weakest form of synthesis is just listing things under a category or topic. Aim to do more than say “Luke says this about Life . . . and then John says this about it.” This is merely the first step of building toward synthesis.
• Sometimes synthesis can show how various different pieces complement or balance one another, the way differing colors (like blue and orange) create a rich viewing experience because of the ways they capture the whole color wheel.
• Sometimes synthesis can show how various parts, while different, work together. Shoulders aren’t much like wrists, but they work together in seamless ways so that we can pick up a cup.
• Sometimes synthesis can actually highlight differences. John’s view of faith and Paul’s view of faith may actually be rather different. They might have a small thread of connection, but we can show how they are using the same work in different ways to address very different things in their contexts.
• Finally, synthesis can sometimes show that the differences are merely superficial. Just below the surface is very deep continuity. Perhaps Luke and Revelation are really saying the same thing about Life but just in different terms and images.
• Think of these as various strategies that you can draw on in your synthesis. You will do well to use a variety of them as they fit the various things that you find in Scripture.
Reflection is can also seem deceptively familiar and simple, but profound reflection has four elements.
• It takes seriously the source or prompt for the reflection. In this case, the material about Life and Faith in the New Testament. Good reflection considers this for what it is in its context. In the case of Scripture, you need to read it well in context as you have been doing throughout the course.
• It takes seriously your personal experience as well. That is, do not flatten, or simplify, or gloss over either the scriptural passages or your own experience and understanding. You have a perspective and opinions and things that have shaped you. Bring these to the table as well.
• It builds a bridge between the objective input (the Bible) and the subjective reception. You can discuss points of agreement or tension or confusion or conflict. Again, this can take many forms, but display and describe what is going on as clearly as possible.
• It highlights points of growth and transformation. The goal of reflection (indeed, what God is moving us toward) is a mental recognition of the changes that have occurred in us as we have encountered some external input. Good reflection should point out where our minds, emotions, and actions have changed as a result of our experience.
Thus, reflection is a way of taking stock of how God has been at work in your life through the Bible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We pray that you have sensed some of those moments of movement and even transformation in this course, so this is an opportunity to recognize them and unpack what has happened in your life.
Identify 3 passages of Scripture from three different blocks of our study of the New Testament that are related to either Life or Faith. For example, you could choose Luke 4:18-21, Romans 3:21-26, and John 4:7-12 (three different blocks: Luke-Acts, Paul’s letters, and John’s Writings) to help explain how you understand the theme of Life. You are free to choose either Life or Faith as your focus, and you may find it helpful to review your discussion posts and interpretation papers for relevant passages. Consider how each passage casts light on your chosen theme.
2. Identify a biblical passage and a particular assignment that impacted you during this course. You may go back to Discussion 1.1 and review the goals that you had for this course. Reflect on the changes that you have experienced in this course and how that specific passage and assignment participated in that change.
3. Compose an initial post of 250-300 words that does the following:
a. Synthesizes your three selected passages from three different blocks of the New Testament (see #2). Use each of the three passages to explain your understanding of the theme of Life or Faith (not both).
b. Reflects on your learning experience and any personal changes in this course (see #3). Describe the changes that you have observed in yourself and how they were affected by one particular passage and one specific assignment.
4. Overall, your posts should:
a. Stay focused on the topics set forth in the discussion prompt.
b. Be posted on at least three different days of the workshop.
c. Use good grammar and clear writing, citing sources that you have used.
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