Scriptures for First Mennonite Church, Oct. 25, Deut. 6:4-14, 2 Tim. 3:10-17
Our congregation is in the midst of a 4 week series about "what we believe together", an examination of the core pieces of faith as expressed in a book of shared convictions of Anabaptist-related churches and published in cooperation with the Mennonite World Conference.
This Sunday, Tim's message will examine the question; "What does it mean to take the Bible seriously?"
It is a live question. "ITS ALIVE!!!" (Sorry, I can't help but here that phrase in a dramatic Frankenstein manner!) The question is a bit of a monster that creates disagreement.
Some think scripture isn't taken seriously if it isn't taken literally. Others think it isn't taken seriously unless historical context, broad themes, and current context are thoroughly considered. Others read something offensive (think violence, patriarchy, slavery...) and don't want to take it seriously at all!
I'm (seriously) in all three camps at least to some extent! Some things I do take literally. Some things I reject. The Bible is so much more than a fact book, a history, or a contextually-bound guide to faith and life, and yet it is all these things at times too. Most helpfully, for me, is thinking about scripture as the ongoing story of God's people. It is told in different times, through different cultures and understandings, in various literary genres, all for the purpose of restoring us to right relationship with God and each other. All for the purpose of redemption. And that story is ongoing.
I agree with 2 Timothy 16; "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness..."but I don't think it's all on the same level of usefulness, and inspired doesn't mean infallible (back then, or now). There is a crucial role here for the Holy Spirit. We need this Spirit of God here and now if we hope to apply ancient wisdom and stories to contemporary times and issues. We need the guidance of group discernment, none of us hears God's voice in a vacuum. The scripture and the issues it raises, addresses, and ignores is alive today, how are we understanding it?
An excellent book I highly recommend for those who wonder about taking the Bible seriously today is Peter Enns' The Bible Tells Me So; Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It.
This is a highly readable, helpful look at scripture and today's context.
Question: How important is the Bible for you and your understanding of the church? In what ways is it important or irrelevant?