The Bible is the central document, the sacred text of our Christian faith. And yet, I am always surprised at how many people with whom I talk are basing their faith system on what they think it says rather than what it really says.
The other day in class the logic of God came up. One student pointed to creation as being a perfect example of God’s orderliness and intentionality. I asked which creation story? Silence. We then went through Genesis 1 and 2 side by side to discover two very different depictions. Three major observations were made: 1) the order of creation differs; 2) in Gen 1, God is depicted as further away and observing the whole, while in Gen 2, God is depicted as close by, walking among creation; and 3) in Gen 1, God creates by speaking, but in Gen 2 by getting down in the dirt molding. As we walked through this passage one student commented “I’ve just never read it like this before…it seems like these passages are more about God and less about creation.” Ah, a beautiful moment in teaching!
I have had students walk out of class when I pointed out two versions of the Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. This happened even before I pointed out that the ending that most of them knew wasn’t even in the text. (In case you are wondering, “For thine is the power and the kingdom and the glory forever and ever Amen” was established into tradition by the Reformers but it stems from earlier Eastern liturgy, not the Bible.)
I can give dozens of examples like this. That is not my point here.
The Bible is a wonderful, living, mysterious and difficult text to approach. It is sacred and we need to guard against growing callous handling the holy. We need equally to guard against thinking we have it all figured out. Approach the Bible with humility. Slow down and really read what is written, not what you think is written. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
This coming weekend in San Diego is the first of two National Youth Workers Conventions by Youth Specialties this Fall. Immerse Journal is partnering with YS to host theological forums. On Saturday, one will be looking at the connection between the Bible and theology. It’s a great time to either be refreshed in deeply connecting theology and the Bible or to consider how this is done for the first time.
BTW, I will be speaking at the other theological forums at NYWC on Friday at 4pm, Saturday at 8am and Sunday at 2pm. Another theologicalcurves author, Calenthia, will be speaking on Sunday afternoon at 2pm. Hope to see you there!