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June 17, 2009
Catholic Bible Conference to help attendees make sense of Scripture
By Julie Filby
Several generations of Catholics grew up going to Mass and Catholic school, but never read or studied the Bible.
“These folks have a head full of good bits and pieces related to their faith, but nothing to tie them together—to make sense of them,” according to author and Biblical instructor Sarah Christmyer. “The grand story told in the Bible does that.”
Christmyer will be one of 10 presenters at the fourth annual National Catholic Bible Conference in Denver on June 26-27.
Her presentation “Knowing the story: What’s in it for me?” will mirror the three main tracks of the conference: information, transformation and mission.
“Knowing the story of God’s plan is essential to all three,” she said. “People learn about the Bible and strive to understand it (information); they apply it to their lives (transformation); and finally they take that new life out into the world (mission).”
By approaching the Bible as a story, as opposed to dogma, readers can gain an understanding of who God really is—and how his plan can bring meaning, hope and purpose to their lives.
“The Bible is far more than a book to be studied,” she said. “It’s a place to meet God and a light to be lived in—the story ties it all together.”
This theme also threads through her workshop “Reading Revelation in light of the story.”
Christmyer admitted while the book of Revelation is far from an easy read, it ties up a number of loose ends in a way the rest of the New Testament never does.
“When studying Revelation, I’m amazed how much more sense it makes when it’s read as part of the biblical narrative,” she explained, “instead as some sort of wild, scary add-on.”
In her talk “Finding the God of Love in the Old Testament” Christmyer will address the perception of two different Gods.
“Many people can’t reconcile the violence of the Old Testament God with the one they know in the New Testament,” she said.
To interpret such scriptural concepts, she said one must read the Bible in its entirety.
“You can’t make a judgment on God’s character based on a few isolated paragraphs,” she explained. “Read the Bible—the whole Bible.”
In addition to Christmyer, speakers will include Biblical scholars Jeff Cavins, Tim Gray, Mary Healy, Deb Holiday, Curtis Martin, Brant Pitre, Thomas Smith, Edward Sri and Peter Williamson.
The conference, sponsored by the Augustine Institute, Ascension Press and the Denver Catholic Biblical School, will begin with Mass and a keynote address by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. It will be held at St. Thomas More Church at 8035 S. Quebec St. in Centennial.
For more information including the schedule of events, visit CatholicBibleConference.com. To register, visit the Web site or call 888-842-2853. The fee is $145.