Disarming the Bible & recapturing the ancient, complex, inspired, still-speaking story of scripture

by susan on September 7, 2018

War stories.
Forgiveness.
Genocide.
Resurrection.
Polygamy.
Covenant.

Anger, joy, fear, love,
grief & gratitude.

Even a pregnant virgin & a talking donkey.

It’s all in there.

The Bible contains a collection of experiences, poems, songs, letters and stories that tell us about God, about one another, about what it means to be alive. In some mysterious & super hard to explain way, God speaks through this diverse collection of ancient stories. God also speaks through the big Story that culminates in the life, death & resurrection of Jesus.

Scripture reveals, teaches, comforts and inspires.
It also confuses, confounds, surprises, disrupts & disturbs.
It’s challenging & complex. It’s messy.

So, how are we to relate to this living, breathing book?

Some of us have chosen to use it as a weapon. Whether conservative or progressive (I really hate labels) or somewhere in between, we are ready to wield the Bible around whenever anyone disagrees with our point of view. We pull out passages, “proof text” our points and put it away until we need to prove another point. We treat it like a legal treatise, not an ancient story. We’re so focused on being right or certain that we miss the surprises that fill the story – not to mention the surprising ways God relates to us today.

Some of us have chosen to explore it like mad scientists (not that there’s anything wrong with science, I’m a big fan!). We parse, pick apart and push against every piece of Scripture. We’ve not only dissected & deconstructed the Bible, but our faith has fallen apart in the process. Faith in the Bible tends to do that. If our faith rests on the Bible being historically accurate, consistent or without contradiction, eventually it will fall apart.

Others of us are moving away from weaponizing & scrutinizing and have begun to appreciate Scripture for what it is. In the process, we are finding a ruthless hopefulness that the God revealed in scripture is still speaking. We are finding a hope that as we read the Bible carefully, in context, in community and in light of Jesus, it can be a source of deep and meaningful connection, transformation, conversation & life. We are finding we can wrestle and ask hard questions and receive some sort of blessing.

I’ve been in all of these places. I’ve had moments when I’ve wielded Scripture like a weapon, moments of wanting to walk away from it all together and moments of renewed hope. Our Well community also has folks who’ve experienced this range of relationships with the Bible.  That’s why I am so excited about these next few months together. It’s time for us to talk about our relationship with scripture and rediscover ways to relate to the Bible for what it is. It’s time for us to enter once again the ancient stories & Story that have the power to shape us into human beings that are loving God, our neighbor & ourselves – who are practicing the way of Jesus together.

If this resonates with you (or even if it doesn’t) or if maybe you’re just starting out as a learner of the way of Jesus & are wondering how to read the Bible at all … wherever you find yourself, we’d love for you to join us for our upcoming Sunday gatherings at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum. We start gathering at 10 a.m. for coffee and conversation and begin our time of song, scripture, prayer & communion at 10:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome & we mean that.

Peace & love,

Susan

P.S.: A couple of companions for this series that I’m enjoying right now are:

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.

The Bible for Normal People, a podcast with Pete Enns and Jarod Byas.

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