On Beyond Sunday School was established January 1, 2012 in order to aid a Christian who has attended classic Sunday School for several decades, or perhaps even his entire life.  He knows there is more to learn, but advanced material tends to be written for professionals and other credentialed scholars.  Sunday School by its very nature can only take you so far in your studies.  Its inherent interest is evangelistic endeavors, and its aim to attract visitors with no presumed knowledge of the Bible.  And of course this is good, but makes it difficult for those who are ready to proceed further.

There are several seminaries available for the truly aggressive.  But not all Christian laymen are prepared to devote such a huge effort and expense into advanced and scholarly studies.  Sometimes a Christian just wants to know what is in the next level.

All backgrounds are different, and it is impossible to discern precisely between what you have heard previously, and material you have never heard before.  The aim is that everything in this blog will be fresh, regardless of how much Sunday School you have experienced.  To that end, this series will not discuss Daniel in the lions' den, Delilah's haircut or David and Goliath.  When this blog reaches the New Testament, this series will be almost irreverently light on the birth or the crucifixion of Jesus.  These topics have been adequately covered by even the least of the Sunday School curricula.  However, you may be surprised what gems can still be freshly mined from even the most familiar of Bible stories as we proceed On Beyond Sunday School.

This blog will fall short of Seminary level, though as we proceed, I will not be afraid to ask you to think beyond your comfort zone.  It will be written in a chatty style, and not in formal.  A full collation of this blog will not qualify as a commentary on the whole Bible, though it will certainly provide a good discussion document for every passage of scripture.

I welcome and encourage questions, comments, and even corrections.  I have no problem being disagreed with, but I will not engage in debate.  If you find something offensive, then I would rather you stop reading.

There are a few basic axioms which are especially not worthy of debate in this forum.  If you cannot accept these as axioms, then you will not feel comfortable proceeding.  Those reading this as a link from http://www.onbeyondsundayschool.org  can find a completed Doctrinal Statement of Unity as a tab on the web site.  The following axioms are just that: axioms.  They are not fundamental enough to qualify as doctrine.

1. I believe a passage from the Bible should be read as literally as its weight will bear.  There are obvious word pictures and other figures of speech - particularly in the poetic passages - and the non-literal must be recognized.  But to go overboard on de-literalizing every passage simply because Peter couldn't possibly have seen the wind deprives too much of the Bible of any generally accepted meaning.

2. When prophetic passages come up, I will take an eschatological position that follows a pre-millennial tribulation, and a pre-tribulation rapture.  While I recognize that there are many good men and women who live Godly lives that are beyond reproach yet they disagree with these conclusions, the principle of axiom #1 leads me to take the position I stated.  To spiritualize prophecy rather than to take a literal approach leaves about a quarter of the Bible with no generally accepted meaning.  And since I don't like it when somebody on the other side - in the interest of "fairness" - explains my point of view, usually defectively, I will not attempt to explain the other side in my blog - except to state occasionally that many, even perhaps the majority of good people disagree with me.

In a perfect world, I would be able to write this blog free of disclosing my position of eschatology.  But that would equate to silencing this blog on more than one-fourth of the Bible.

3. I will not entertain discussion on modern day form criticism.  Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch.  Isaiah is a unified book of the Bible written by Isaiah son of Amoz largely between the years 745 to 690 (at the latest) BC.  The entire book of Daniel was written from exile, or perhaps a small number of years thereafter.  There is no Q; the original language of the book of Matthew is Greek.  I will be flexible on discussions of which New Testament texts are preferred, but I prefer that people not studied in textual criticism not be tempted to make premature and unqualified decisions.

At some point, I should say a little about myself, since any writer's own experiences make the best illustrations.  As I type this on May 25, 2013, I am 58 years old.  I have attended Church continuously since my infancy, and I accepted Christ at age 8.  Outside of Church, two prominent activities of my youth were music and baseball - two sub-topics that I feel comfortable discussing in any forum, and will be drawn upon for illustrations and examples frequently in this blog.  My education training, financed by a music scholarship, is in mathematics and physics with advanced training in probability and statistics.  Later, I received an advanced degree in Divinity.  I am outspoken on the issue that there is absolutely no conflict between science and the Bible,  and I have the credentials to discuss that from either side.  Vocationally, I have been an actuary for 37 years (typed May 25, 2013).  Numerical studies will appear frequently in this blog.  Though I have the education to be a vocational minister, my burden has always been to lay Christians as a lay Christian myself.  I am reading-fluent in the three biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  While the original languages will be referred to, this blog can be read by anyone who speaks English.

In 1999, the Lord gave me the gift of Parkinson's Disease.  I call it a gift because I know my life is more enriched as I live in His will, than if I were to have somehow escaped this part of his will and remained in full health.  I mention this here only because I will occasionally draw on this for examples and illustrations.  On one blog entry, I will provide my testimony on how God has used the parkinsons to strengthen me.  The entry will be titled "My Fellowship with Job."

As a final topic, these blogs are copyrighted.  Since my aim is not to restrict these essays, but to promote their distribution, I am fairly generous with permissions.  The one area where we might have problems is if it is ever brought to my attention that somebody else is using these entries as their own work, and trying to claim that I am the one who is the plagiarist. 
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