According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Loving the Bible for what it is, not for what I want it to be

January 2, 2011

My relationship with the Bible has been a lot like that of a daughter to her parents.

I’ve been through the happy, childlike dependency stage, the one where I believed the Bible was impenetrable, the stories of Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, and Joshua and the Battle of Jericho as true and as good as my mother’s scent.

'heart bible' photo (c) 2011, honorbound - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Then, as a young adult, I fumbled through an angry stage, one where I realized that after Joshua “fit the battle of Jericho,” God told him to kill every man, woman, and child in the city, and that coursing through some of my favorite Bible stories were the currents of genocide, xenophobia, patriarchy, and misogyny. I began to doubt what I’d been told about the Bible’s exclusive authority, inerrancy, perspicuity, and internal consistency. Like a teenager suddenly made aware of her parents’ flaws, I screamed and hollered and slammed doors. I sunk into quiet withdrawal, feeling angry and betrayed that the Bible wasn’t what I’d once believed it to be.

Over the past few years, however, I’ve worked up the courage to re-approach the Bible, this time with a different set of expectations, and I get the feeling that I’m in the early stages of learning how to relate to it the way that an adult child relates to her parents, a way that honors and respects the Bible for what it is, not what I want it to be.

The Bible isn’t an answer book.

It isn’t a self-help book.

It isn’t a science or history textbook.

It isn’t even a single book – but rather an ancient collection of letters and laws, prophecies and proverbs, stories and songs, spanning thousands of years and written in languages and cultures far removed from my own.

And so the question I’ve been asking lately—especially after my “year of biblical womanhood”—is how do I relate to the Bible as a grownup? How do I honor it and value it and celebrate it for what it is, not what I want it to be?

So for the next several months, I’ll be dedicating most Mondays to addressing this important topic, at both an academic and personal level. We’ll discuss books (like The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith and Inspiration and Incarnation by Pete Enns). We’ll confront myths (that the Bible presents us with a single prescriptive formula for how to be a woman, that the Bible’s meaning is self-evident, that we can somehow read the Bible without interpreting it). We’ll tackle practical questions (how do we teach the Bible to our children? what should our “devotional” times look like? how can we go on being transformed by the Bible, even in the midst of questions and doubts?). We’ll conduct interviews and roundable discussions (three views on “inspiration,” four views on “inerrancy.”) We’ll talk about our own struggles and triumphs (passages that have changed our lives, passages that have made us doubt). And sometimes, we’ll just “sit” with the Bible (a poetic excerpt, a troubling passage, lectio divina).

As I’ve said before, I believe the evangelical community is on the precipice of engaging in a difficult and honest conversation about how we relate to the Bible, a conversation that may very well divide us, but that also has the potential to be beautifully refining and redemptive. I hope that, in some small way, we can represent the best of that conversation here on the blog by engaging one another and the Bible in honest, civil, and constructive ways.

So, how has your relationship with the Bible changed over the years?

What, specifically, would you like to see from this series?






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