Scripture study hopes new series will reach more Catholics
For the first time in its 33-year history, Little Rock Scripture Study is offering its newest Bible study for free.
"What the Bible Says About ..." is a new online series available to download or print from a computer. Director Cackie Upchurch said three or four studies will be posted on http://www.littlerockscripture.org each year. If the response is good, the diocesan ministry will commit to writing more studies.
Each study will address a popular topic in today's world that is "compelling" or "worrisome." For the first study, associate director Cliff Yeary wrote about the rapture. "Six days to create the world" and "being born again" are other topics Yeary will address this winter and next spring.
LRSS leaders hope the program will spread Bible knowledge as well as a love for Scripture study.
"The more who know, not just professional ministers in the Church, but the people in the pews, the more likely they are to realize there is a lot of material that is doable, approachable," Upchurch said. "It answers a hunger and it creates more hunger."
Most Catholics in the United States will be introduced to the new program through four-color, single-page bulletin inserts. In September parishes around the country were invited to place orders for the inserts, also for free. Upchurch said retreat centers, hospitals and other Catholic institutions are welcome to order the inserts as well.
Through the insert, readers will get an overview of the topic and are invited to visit the http://www.littlerockscripture.org/en/wtbsa.html" target="null">LRSS Web site to print and read an eight-page version of the study, which also includes study questions and a glossary of terms. Unlike other LRSS materials, users are free to copy the materials as much as needed and hand it out.
Each study has been reviewed by Abbot Jerome Kodell, OSB, of Subiaco Abbey and approved by Msgr. J. Gaston Hebert, diocesan administrator.
Upchurch said individuals can use the study by themselves or could meet together one time and discuss the topic. She promises everything LRSS publishes is written in "plain English" so it is easy for all Catholics to read and understand.
LRSS will stay committed to publishing Catholic Bible study programs for parish settings, but the staff understands there are many people who don't like study groups or don't want to make a four to 15-week commitment to study Scripture with other Catholics.
With the new study, LRSS can reach a new audience who has never heard of the international Bible study program.
"The primary purpose we have is to get people exposed to a solid Catholic approach to the Bible," Upchurch said. "Whatever way we can do that is only going to benefit them, our Church and eventually whatever ministries provide Bible studies."
So what is the rapture? LRSS defines it as "The belief that those who profess a personal belief in Christ will be removed from the earth in order to spare them during a time in which 'the wrath of God' will be displayed against all the peoples of earth."
Yeary said the term is popular in movies, bumper stickers and the "Left Behind" book series. The term itself is not found in Scripture. He said a number of Scripture verses are taken out of context to teach it, but Catholics do not believe in the rapture.
"When we look at it, based on context, based on all the tools our Church encourages us to use, we come to a very different conclusion," Upchurch said.
Upchurch and Yeary said they won't want these Bible studies to be looked at as "bashing" other Christians.
"We want to be respectful of what other people believe and teach," Yeary said, "but we want to be firm in addressing why Catholic scholarship goes in a very different direction with the same Scriptures. We want to have a rational, consistent and faith-filled response."
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