Our reading of and interpretation of the Bible shapes what we think
about who God is and our responses to those beliefs. In this blog,
Gene shares his thoughts on reading Scripture and gives us a glimpse into a
new class we are starting at URCC.
Much--not all--of our spiritual growth trajectory rises and falls on our use of scripture. Followers of Jesus have long accepted it as an essential book for faith and practice. More than a few would argue that it is THE essential book.
In the past five years I have been experiencing a renaissance of love for Scripture. I have always used scripture; it is, after all, a basic tool of my craft as pastor and professor. But in the past five years I have started loving it once again.
I think I am experiencing what Augustine experienced at a critical moment. Sitting in a garden he heard a child in the midst of a game saying, "Tolle, lege"--take up and read. He turned on the bench and saw a copy of the Bible and did exactly what the child said. He started reading it, became a convinced follower of Jesus and never quit reading scripture.
I am experiencing the same. I have started teaching it not only through preaching but in undergraduate academic programs. I recently accepted the role as director of a new graduate program in biblical studies in my local context. More importantly, it is forming and shaping me in remarkable ways. Specifically, rather than merely an ancient historical document I am finding it to have the capacity to "read" me and point the ways to healthier versions of who I am made to be.
One outcome of this growing admiration for God's word is a conviction that the Bible should be--can be--a book for everyone. It is intended for both the armchair reader and the seminarian.
Convinced of this, I have created a class for the church community I serve to aid them in reading, understanding and applying scripture to their 21st century lives. It starts The Sunday after Easter, April 12, at 9:00 a.m. at Upper Room Community Church, in Auburn, CA. If you participate, here is what you get:
Three Specific Learning Modules
Each are six weeks long. Module #1 covers "Basic Tools of Biblical Interpretation." Module #2 digs into "New Testament Basics." Module #3 explores "Old Testament Basics."
The content in each of these modules is broken down into easily absorbed 45-minute sessions. In the first class session, for example, we'll dig into this topic: "The Value--and Price--of a Good Translation." Next, we'll dig into the role of the Holy Spirit in biblical interpretation. Each class will build momentum and understanding. By the end, whether you have a few minutes to read the Bible each week or can dig into it for longer periods of time, you'll find yourself more at home and more able to put into practice what you are read.
My experience is tha I learn best in a genuine community of learners that offers dialogue, differing points of view and argument. In this community that will form around scripture you will have ample opportunity to get real-time interaction and discussion about real-life questions when it comes to scripture and how to best understand and apply it.
It's been my experience that coaching exponentially increases and deepens learning. For those wanting to go deeper in their understanding and use of scripture, coaching will be available where you can personalize and make the most out of this unique spiritual growth opportunity.
I am looking forward to welcoming you into this opportunity to dig into scripture. I am convinced that a few minutes devoted to scripture every Sunday morning in a community oiling to dig into an ancient document is going to help you fall deeper and deeper in love with the "living" nature of God's word.