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The bible and the referendum?

Where can we go in the Bible?

This is the fourth of a series of postings that relate to a research project I’ve been conducting on using a model of practical theological reflection in relation to the independence question that is being put to voters in Scotland on 18th September this year. You can read about the project in more detail – including an explanation about the model of reflecting here.

I’m going to share, suitably anonymised, some of the observations made by the focus participants. You’re invited to take part too – online – as the series of posts unfolds.

In the first posting I presented some of the stories that participants told when I asked them to start off the group conversation by giving an example of their own independence. In the second posting I reproduced some examples of how the participants described what’s been going on in terms of the debate.  In the third posting we saw some participants’ analysis of why the debate is like it is.

Participants were asked to bring a bible passage to the focus group that had relevance for them in reaching a decision on the independence question. Here are just a few examples.

I’m reading from Matthew 24: 42 – and this sort of goes back to my background, a father who has an atheist – but who believed that usefulness was the right we paid for our life on earth. And you’ve a duty to be useful – and a mother who was Irish, working class and believed strongly in community. You had to look round; you had to watch out for your neighbour; you had to contribute to the community. So this, ‘therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this, if the owner of the house had known at what time of night that thief was coming he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready because the son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’  To me, this about preparedness. There’s an opportunity and you don’t know when it’s going to be there. But there is an opportunity.   Sadie

‘Love is patient, love is kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. Is not rude, is not self-seeking is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  I find life very confusing…And being a Christian I find a real strength in the solidness of lots of parts of my faith. And I find I need to have a reference, a strong reference point, and these verses I’ve just read are really personal to me and are fundamental to everything that I try and do…And that’s how I would measure any human being, if I have any right to judge. That’s the ideal. And most of all I measure myself against that. And I see our leaders and that’s how I measure them. How do they compare?  Adrian

‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’  Matthew 25:40.  I suppose to me that was a fairly strong message about social justice, about how whatever kind of Scotland we continue to live in… we have had not only a long tradition but I think we also want to continue to preserve whatever form of government best enables and equips us structurally as well individually to always look to those in need before ourselves….[And] a second point…is there anything intrinsic in an independent Scotland that would enable us, empower us, encourage us to continue to do that, to do it better?  Debbie

‘The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands. The desert will sing and shout for joy; it will be as beautiful as the Lebanon Mountains and as fertile as the fields of Carmel and Sharon.’ [Isaiah 35: 1-2] That’s about vision and about hope and while I’m not naïve enough to think that we’re moving to some sort of promised land flowing with milk and honey, I think that is about the impossible becoming possible. Edelmira.

Questions for you to consider and perhaps post a comment in response:

  • What strikes you most from hearing the choice of passage and explanation from these focus group participants?
  • Which bible passage, and why, would you offer as one that shapes your understanding of what’s at stake in the referendum?


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