We were all from different backgrounds. White, black, male, female, middle-aged, young, theologically trained, laypersons–all from different denominations. There was something that united us and brought us together–we wanted to grow closer to God.
While we build our discussions around a book, like any group that’s worth going to, we digress to the issues of the heart.
Hatred, family, struggle.
These things arose in conversation.
Boundaries, community, grace.
These were discussed as a solution.
They were important topics that flowed out of one question, what do we do with the Old Testament. Everyone in this group needed a new paradigm to understand. Looking at it through the lens of Christ is a great idea, but sometimes it is so tough to see Christ. Books like, What is the Bible, Crucifixion of the Warrior God, and Cross Vision came up. We even discussed understanding the Scriptures as Midrash.
The Bible is hard. Some passages don’t make sense.
What do you do with that?
It can be super stressful. Have you been there?
Here, our life is supposed to be built on the person of Jesus who we see primarily in the Scriptures, yet there is so much that doesn’t make sense. There is so much more. However, that is beautiful, life-giving, and challenges us to live a bigger and better way–that calls us to a higher standard.
As we talked, discussed, struggled, someone said something simple, yet, profound. “What if we’re all just trying too hard.”
He referenced a scholar who said that studying Scripture is just something he does. It was fun.
Maybe the reason we can’t have productive conversations around the Scriptures in cross-denominational circles without someone being offended, angry, and calling another a Heretic is because we take ourselves way too seriously.
Of course, church history doesn’t bode well in this light, either. Saint Nicolas once punched Arius in the face during a theological debate.
I believe the Scriptures are to be wrestled with. The story of Jacob makes that clear. But when we take ourselves too seriously, we cannot approach the Bible with humility.
When we take ourselves too seriously, whatever opinion we derive from the text becomes what the text is saying, and when that is challenged, that challenge is against us as a person.
We need the Holy Spirit to speak to us and allow the Spirit to speak through the Scriptures. We must know that whatever ideas, doctrines, concepts we extract from the Scriptures are not exhaustive. Why? Because we’re not God. We have fallible lives. We are not omniscient.
We need the Holy Spirit to speak to us and through us. We need the community to challenge us, offering different perspectives that push our interpretive paradigm a little further–stretching us in how we interact with the text.
Humble hearts are what’s required with this text. The ancient words–this God-breathed text–these profound but sometimes archaic words, can change our life in radically good ways. First, we must realize we’re not God. We need community and humility. More importantly, though, we need the Holy Spirit to minister to us.
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