The study group has stabilized at around 13 members. We've reached the Sermon on the Mount, and pushed through the better part of Chapter 5 yesterday. In addition, we've added our first historical criticism fan, an energetic older woman whose brief effort to claim that Matthew put words in Jesus' mouth fell on disinterested ears. She didn't try it again, but I suspect she will. She also claimed that Luther was a Jansenist, which would be quite a trick, given that Luther tacked up the 95 Theses almost sixty years before Cornelius Jansen was born.
She was also an adherent to the fundamental option view of sin, which had to be (and was) slapped down by yours truly. Politely (yes, I am capable of it), I explained that a healthy view of mortal sin steers the course between viewing God as a sniper eagerly awaiting your removal from the confessional (see Luther, Martin) so He can pick you off if you have a craving for devil's food cake and mortal sin only occuring if you arrange an official ceremony by which you flip the Almighty the bird, memorialize your decision in a document and send it to Him via registered mail. That seemed to work.
Still, she means well and was not without helpful insights, even though she seems to regard discussion of sin, suffering and sacrifice as invariably "negative." Indeed, "negativity" is her bugbear, and she informed me afterwards that she sees signs of it in the study.
Should be interesting, to say the least.