A Bible Study on an Atheist's Talk Show?

Article excerpt

Byline: Janet Hallman

Over the past 14 years, Tim Hetzner has had all kinds of people enroll in the Crossways Bible study course he teaches at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palatine.

One aspiring Bible student has even convinced Hetzner to go through the course with him on the radio, starting at the end of this month.

It'll be a "Bible Tour," led by Hetzner and his enthusiastic Bible student, Robert I. Sherman.

That, of course, would be atheist Rob Sherman. The infamous radio talk show host/prolific litigant himself.

Why in the world would Rob Sherman want to study the Bible, other than to get more publicity? Hetzner's already heard from his share of skeptics.

"People ask, first of all, 'What's his hidden motive?' " said Hetzner, the church's director of adult education and Good Samaritan Ministries. "My response is, 'I'm assuming he's wanting to study the text.' "

Sherman claims that's exactly what he wants to do, although he has no plans to renounce his atheism.

"A lot of people regard the Bible as being important, so I think it's important to know what's in these 66 books that are so significant in so many people's lives," he said.

Sherman and Hetzner first met and became friends over a decade ago, when Sherman visited Immanuel to hear a guest speaker.

Hetzner had extended an invitation to the atheist several times to sign up for Crossways, a two-year, interdenominational Bible study.

After years of saying he didn't have the time, Sherman said he's finally decided to try out the course on the Sunday morning edition of "The Rob Sherman Show," which he's already been hosting on WKTA-AM 1330 in Northbrook. "Bible Tour" will run from 6 to 8 a.m., beginning Sept. 29.

Crossways is a 60-unit course covering the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and including the Apocrypha. The course at Immanuel begins Sept. 23, with three Monday classes.

On "Bible Tour," Hetzner will teach the course to Sherman, focusing on the content and meaning of Scripture and allowing listeners to call in with questions, he said.

"It's an honest look at Scripture," Hetzner said. "And that's what we're going to do: look at what Scripture does say and doesn't say. …