Last night, in our book study on “How (Not) to Read The Bible”, Dan Kimball (the author) joined our video meeting. Besides the coolness of being able to ask questions of the guy who wrote the book, it was a special moment for me because I worked for Dan over 25 years ago when he was a youth pastor in Santa Cruz, CA. He is easily one of the most influential people in the development of my love for the church and the Bible.
We got to ask him about all the crazy and offensive-sounding passages in the Bible. At one point in the discussion, Dave Cuvilier asked a brilliant question. Dan has been on the leading edge of much of the movements of church culture in the time since I knew him so long ago. Dave asked what Dan thought would be the next big issue and challenge for Christians at this time in history. This is an important concept because it is crucial that we, as followers of Jesus, are able to answer the questions our community is asking–to address the current needs of our culture that point to their ongoing need for relationship with God.
Simply put, Dan’s answer was that the next big question on the minds of people outside the church is about how we can trust the Bible–especially when so much of it falls into what upcoming generations would consider unloving or hateful speech. The sad truth is many Christians have either been ignorant of or ignored the parts of the Bible that (on the surface) seem violent, anti-women, anti-science, and pro-slavery (among other things). Rightly so, the people around us are asking the tough questions about the Bible and it is up to the followers of Jesus to understand the scriptures in a way that we can draw a line from the gracious and loving God to the problematic passages of the Bible we are tempted to ignore.
On a personal note, last night’s conversation renewed my passion to unpack and understand the context and initial messages of the Bible so I can responsibly share that message with the people in our community (and church family) who I love so much. My hope is that we, as a church, will set aside the fear and division we often carry against the world around us and put our energy into renewing our faith in the God who is love and in the Bible that is his inspired revelation to us.