Book used in Bible study
Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The famous Harvard teacher and lawyer, Alan M. Dershowitz, wrote a book titled The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stores of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Morality and law. The New York Times book review says it is “A thoughtful, provocative book.” Brewton’s Father Gary L. Baldwin, Rec-tor of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, has a portion of one of his sermons on the Ten Commandments published in the section of the book, “Read-ers Respond to the Genesis of Justice.”
Father Gary’s interest in this book probably began around 1998 or 1999 when he was using it in conjunction with a Lenten study on the Ten Com-mandments at the Church of the Messiah in Pulaski, TN. He was not sure at first if he would like the book because of Dershowitz’s public stands with various issues, but Father Gary likes to present different points of view in his sermons. He thought a lawyer’s point of view would be interesting on the Ten Commandments. At approximately this same time, there was a great deal of controversy in this country concerning whether the Ten Commandments should be displayed in courthouses. Upon reading the book, Father Gary discovered that the Jewish and Legal perspective (Dershowitz is a Jew) was absolutely profound. To quote Father Gary, “Dershowitz may not be a fundamentalist or a literalist, but he takes the scriptures very seriously.”
Dershowitz takes the perspective that the Ten Com-mandments are the very foundation of modern law and the American constitution and that they are based on the knowledge of God and the learnings of humanity on events happening in the book of Genesis. Each of the stories behind each of the commandments reflects human choices and human actions that could have dest-royed, specifically, the Israe-lites and humanity, in general.
One of the stories concerns Abraham offering up Isaac as a sacrifice. Dershowitz raises question as to how a loving God could have commanded Abraham to kill his own son and how Abraham, a loving father, could have obeyed that commandment.
Around the same time as reading the book, Father Gary had also written a sermon on that story. In the sermon he answered each of the questions raised by Dershowitz.
Within the book Dershowitz indicated his appreciation of how his students had contributed to his understanding and his scholarship. Now that the book was presented to the general public, he invited feedback about the book through e-mail. Father Baldwin sent a copy of his sermon and never dreamed Dershowitz would respond. However, Dersho-witz’s office requested to use the material in the publication of the second edition. Father Baldwin wondered what Dershowtiz did with his sermon of if he used it in his second ed. He purchased a copy of the book and was delighted to discover that a portion of his sermon was included in a section of the book.
This comes as no surprise to many parishioners at St. Stephen’s. Phillipa Hamilton, a life long Episcopalian, says, “Father Gary is one of the best teachers of the Bible we have ever had at St. Stephen’s.”
Martha Dismukes, Senior Warden at Stephen’s said, “Father Gary is one of the most well versed and caring ministers that I have encountered in a long time. We are fortunate to have him at St. Stephen’s.”
Retired surgeon, Dr. Salem Saloom is quoted as saying; “Father Gary Baldwin is a friend and colleague and a person of deep spirituality who lives his relationship with Christ. His sermons and writings as well thought out, researched, and theologically sound. They are excellent examples of Christ’s teachings to be lived out in today’s world.”
Dershowitz’s book is being used as background material in Father Gary’s weekly Bible study of the book of Genesis. The public is warmly invited to attend.
Charles A. Rushing