Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Four Gospels

Prepared by Stanley C. Lawrence
Paper Written for The FOUR GOSPELS Course

“The Unvarnished Gospels” book was interesting and provided many different perspectives of the Four Gospels of the New Testament, however I tended to disagree with a few of the interpretations of some of the Biblical phrases used, such as, “Kingdom of the skies” and “bathing of the Spirit,” as used in the book. I felt that these interpretations just didn't provide the punch that the original Bible interpretations provided.

Basically, I found fault with much of this interpretation of the four Gospels. I would have preferred an Aramaic to English translation, or better to have studied the book, “The Complete Gospels,” Robert J. Miller, Editor. The textbook, however, does bring up some interesting questions.

Having said that, this interpretation did make one think about the words of Jesus and the traditions about him. I thought about and had the most trouble with the subject of divorce, as
it pertains to the Christian today. It seems as though every family has experienced divorce somewhere in their families or someone who is a friend. And I believe this topic to be very
important for the ULC clergy to consider, as most religions will not remarry someone, through the church, after they have been divorced, because most church clergy believe that this
comes from God, and so this should be adhered to if we are to do what the law of God commands.
Divorce is so prevalent in today's society and most individuals know of people personally who have divorced and broken their marriages apart. Of course, the main emphasis of any
marriage that has children, should be that the best interest of the children involved come first and foremost before the interests of the feuding adults. It is so very interesting that the discourse on divorce in Matthew (Matthew 19:3-12) was immediately followed by a discourse on little children, so it is very important to see that Jesus tied the two subjects together.  Problems causing divorce are largely rooted in dysfunctionality of the adult individuals involved, which makes it extremely difficult to reconcile differences. In these cases, I believe that these marriages have not been ordained by God, as the individuals have usually not taken the time for courtship and the engagement of getting to know each other properly. This often is because of the dysfunctionality of the individuals that rush into these slipshod marriages because of sex being such a part of these courtships and quite often pregnancies ensue as a result.

The dysfunctionality can be very varied, but may include: ADHD, various other mental problems and diseases, alcohol or drug addictions, low self-esteem, these things often combined with low income, and many, many times survivors of child abuse.

Jesus said in Matthew 19, as it is said in the textbook: “So what God joined together, let no man divide.” In the Gospel book of John, it tells the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, where Jesus asks her about where her husband is and he tells her she had had five husbands and was then living with a man not married to her. Jesus doesn't really condemn her for all these marriages (and obvious divorces), however he does speak to her of forgiveness and commitment in her life. Strangely though, the book of John was written for believers in Christ, but it does not specifically mention divorce, as the other three Gospels do.

We as clergy, should be concerned about whether or not the two individuals to be married are truly believers in Christ and if salvation is a part of their lives. If both are sincerely Christian and wanting to obey God's commands, the greatest of which is to love God and each other, then we would seek to try and counsel the adult individuals with the hope that their marriage will completely be from God. We as clergy can decry the terrible evils of divorce and then we seek to marry everyone that wants to be married. Therefore, we should not place the center of our attention on divorce, but rather we should emphasize the lifelong commitment that should be a necessary part of Christian marriages today. Marriage should be a source of spiritual and moral strength in life, with the grace and love of Jesus Christ.


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