Rediscovering the Bible
In his wonderful introduction to the Bible, The Good Book, Peter Gomes writes,
One of the more embarrassing social situations, upon which even Miss Manners and other arbiters of social etiquette have failed to provide a useful strategy, is the one in which you have more than a nodding acquaintance with someone. At the point of introduction you got the person's name, forgot it, asked it again, and forgot it again. Meanwhile you go on meeting this person, chatting and being chatted with, but you have clearly passed beyond the point where you can ask for the name again…What we should know, pretend that we know, and wish that we knew, we don't. Worse still, we do not know, without risk of embarrassment, how to ask about what we need to know.
This, I suggest, is the way it is with so many people and the Bible. Once, perhaps a long time ago in childhood or in early youth, or even as late as in college, you were introduced. You have a nodding acquaintance with the Bible, or at least you feel you ought to, and you can recognize some familiar phrases… yet, to all intents and purposes, the Bible remains an elusive, unknown, slightly daunting book.
If there’s a better analogy for the relationship most folks—even church folks—have with the Bible, I don’t know of it.
To locate it more in our context here at FBCX, the Bible may be that close friend you knew well in childhood but gradually slipped away from. Now happening upon them as an adult, you find they look different from how you remember. All you can think of is your childhood understanding of them.
Beginning tomorrow, July 19, in our noon Bible study, we’ll take an extended look at the Bible, how we can read it, and what it can mean for us today. To help us, we’ll work from Adam Hamilton’s insightful book, Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today.
We’ll look at topics such as what the Bible is and is not, how some books made it in while others didn’t and questions about the nature of Scripture. We’ll also pick up some tools along the way that will help us approach challenging passages and themes in the Bible such as the violence we find in Scripture, apparent conflicts with science, questions about women in church leadership, and homosexuality.
For so many of us, the Bible is s deeply personal book that we hold dear. We will likely not all read it the same way, and certainly will not interpret it lockstep. Part of being Baptist means appreciating that faithful Christians can come to different conclusions about Scripture. But it also means taking the responsibility to learn different approaches to Scripture, in order to better understand it and each other when we read it differently. These skills have perhaps not been more important that they are today, as we as a church approach difficult matters of community and scriptural interpretation regarding inclusion.
As people of faith we hold the Bible as our sacred Scripture, a record of the relationship between God and God’s people. We make the audacious claim that even though it was written thousands of years ago in far off lands, by and for different people in different languages, the Bible still contains God’s word for us today, in this time and place. To believe this is an incredible act of faith
And yet determining this word for the present moment is perhaps the greatest challenge of our faith. It's too great a challenge to take on by ourselves. We need each other, and the Spirit that flows between us, in often surprising ways.
I hope you’ll join us as we gather for lunch at 11:30 and begin our study around noon.