“How unfortunate to use the Bible as a conversation stopper, not a starting point.”
— Sarah Bessey, Out of Sorts
We’ve written a lot about the Bible in this space. So I loved reading this latest chapter of Sarah’s book as she describes her journey and relationship with Scripture, how it has evolved and how she has come into a greater appreciation and love for it. It’s beautiful and engaging and I relate to it in so many ways.
I believe the nature of the Bible is the next great conversation we need to have in the Church. So many of our squabbles and differences find their origin in what we believe about the Bible.
And I’ve written and rewritten this post about 20 times the last few days because I feel like there’s so much ground to cover here. About how we use the Bible as a weapon. About how we go to it to support our already-held opinions. About how “The Bible” is such a great noun and a pretty crappy adjective.
But I won’t go into all of that. It’s for another time. Trevor reiterated so much about what we believe about the Bible in his post earlier this week. And we fully affirm that this beautiful collection of writings still has so much to say about our 21st Century lives.
I want to tell you what I find compelling about the Bible. Because I believe the beauty of the Bible is revealed when people stop trying to manipulate it and argue for it and defend it and simply let it be what it is.
Sarah writes at one point, “Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions about the Bible,” and I think she’s right.
I love the way God allowed the Bible to come together. I know it’d be so much easier if it descended from the heavens hermetically sealed, all pristine and pure and untouched by the vagaries of our world. Because then we could break the seal and see some great light shine forth and read the truth one simple, obvious voice.
I don’t think anyone really believes that, but it sure seems like that’s how some people want to read it.
No, instead we get a Bible that is both divine and human. Written by so many people over so many years. And not just one voice, but a chorus of voices. Some of which seem to be arguing with each other at times. And yet one beautiful storyline unfolding through it all of a God who cares for us, is deeply present with us and interacts with us.
I love the Bible because it actually reflects the nature of our lives. God in the pages looks a lot like God in people. There’s some imperfections, some arguments, some different points of view. Yet through it all a God is revealed that is above all and through all and in all.
It just requires us to search and struggle together.
Just because the Bible is the foundation for our faith — and I absolutely affirm that it is — does not mean that it’s perfect. It’s foundational because it shows us what it’s like to interact with God. It shows us what real community looks like. It’s foundational not because it has every answer stated in obvious form, but because it teaches us the way to search for truth.
The Bible is beautiful because it reflects God. And because it reflects our nature as well. As Peter Enns says, “God lets his children tell the story.” It reminds me that even in the clutter of life, truth is still there. Real, raw, honest truth.
And when people will discuss it, when they will wrestle with it in community, when they open their lives to it just as the people who compiled it over so many years did, the Bible will still speak to us. God and truth and love are evident in it.
We just have to allow the Bible to be what it is.