Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Progressive Interpretation of John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)

This passage is sometimes used to justify a message against non-Christians, but we used it as a starting point for a discussion about the importance of religious diversity at our first dinner and fellowship of the semester.  Below are some of our thoughts on the different translations of the verse that we read. Please click through to read each of the translations, and feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments.

A. The Message Version:
1. This translation seems to focus more on "this life" as opposed to a "next life."
2. The phrase "by believing in him (in Jesus)" we are invited to ask ourselves, "What does Jesus represent? Love and compassion." Thus, if anyone believes in that (love and compassion), they can have a "whole and lasting life."

B. Amplified Bible:
1. "God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that he [even] "gave up" His only begotten. . ." What does it mean to say that God "gave up?"
2. By adding adjectives to the phrase, "so that whoever believes" such as "trusts in, clings to, relies on," this translation opens up more options than just belief--more than dogma.
3. In the phrase "shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost)" the inclusion of the words "be lost" makes it easy for humans to relate because we have all felt lost from time to time.

C. Based on Aramaic Text:
1. The words "unity" and "diversity" in referring to the relationship in and among the divine attributes makes this translation wide open for inclusion of other faith traditions.
2. The phrase stating that Jesus, a child of Unity, was "fulfilled in all its aspects of self," is provocative on many levels--humans are invited into a state of fulfillment of self.
3. Similarly, humans are invited into "the same confidence in their own fulfillment" as Jesus, a child of Unity.
4. The phrase "continue, from world to world," is reminiscent of the Buddhist tradition and/or reincarnation.

To sum up our discoveries of the text study on John 3:16, one might say:
1. "Those who believe in love and compassion will have a whole and lasting life."
2. "Jesus is a child of Unity who loves Diversity."

Favorite Berkeley Spots

Today at our student lunch, we shared our favorite hangouts in Berkeley and the Bay Area.  Feel free to share your own favorites in the comments.

Joshu-ya Sushi
Monterey Market
Berkeley Bowl
La Farine
Bakesale Betty
Urban Turban
Chez Panisse
Bistro Liason
Elmwood Cafe
Nabolom Bakery

Study Spots
Wesley House and Campus Center
Graduate Lounge in Stephens Hall
Graduate Theological Union Library
Eschelman Library
Morrison Library

Lawrence Hall of Science
Tilden Park
Campus Museums
California Academy of Sciences
Walk to the top of Coit Tower
Ferry Building
Farmers' Markets in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland

Academic/Student Life Tips
Go to office hours
Take classes you enjoy
Join a co-op
Get out of Berkeley and make friends outside the university
Get to know GSI's and professors

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back to School Events

We have a few fun events coming up to kick of the fall semester:

Tuesday, August 24: Introduction to Buddhist Meditation
5-6 pm at Wesley House (2398 Bancroft Way)

Wednesday, August 25: Dinner and Weekly Fellowship
6-8 pm at Wesley House (2398 Bancroft Way)
Text Study: Diversity Includes Religious Diversity
Optional prayer closing from 8-8:30

Sunday, August 29: Worship and Lunch at FCCB
10-11 am at First Congregational Church of Berkeley (enter at Dana and Durant)
Free lunch follows at 11:30 am

Wednesday, September 1: Dinner and Weekly Fellowship
6-8 pm at Wesley House (2398 Bancroft Way)
Walk the Labyrinth at FCCB
Optional prayer closing from 8-8:30

Here we are burning our prayer bundles from last spring semester.