I'm not that kind of Christian who believes the Bible is inerrant.
I am not that kind of Christian that has always loved the Bible in the same way.
I am not that kind of Christian who has always read the Bible devotionally. Sometimes in my faith journey I've not read the Bible regularly at all.
But this was not always the case. When I was a child, I was told that the Bible was God’s word, no errors. Moses, you know, wrote the first five books and Jesus said word for word everything we find in the red letters.I was taught to read scripture regularly because this helped me to live a life pleasing to God. In fact at my church, an extracurricular activity for us church kids in elementary school was Bible drill.
When you are taught the Bible this way and encouraged to think of the Bible this way– as something to be conquered as something to be read in chunks, you can easily begin to take scripture out of context.
For example, verses like I Timothy 4:11: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission” can be used destructively, destroying the self-confidence of an entire gender of the human race. (But that is a whole other post!)
What happens when we teach our children the Bible like this is that “Scripture can easily become loaded time bombs ready to explode" as I once heard Pastor Brian McLaren say.
Or we grow up disillusioned.
This is what I need to tell you: there came a point in my life when I stopped reading the Bible for devotional reasons.
It was the second month after I was ordained as a pastor. What should have been the most joyous juncture of my life was one of the lowest. I wondered what in the world I’d gotten myself into, being a “professional Christian” who now was not allowed to question her faith?
It was just so hard for me to reconcile what I was taught in small chunks of Bible drill with the God I wanted to love, the God I thought I knew, and the faith that I knew had the power to do something for good in the world. I was upset that the church wanted to condemn all of my friends of other faiths without even the chance to know their hearts.
I could have very easily lost my faith in the years that followed. I could have easily lost my job if my supervisors knew what was going on in my heart. It ate me up inside not to be a space where I could be honest. But, I knew I needed rest and perspective. And, in time, I found myself into the loving arms of Washington Plaza Baptist Church where I was pastor for 4 years and preached every Sunday.
In preaching every week, I began to read scripture again, but never like I did in elementary school or even college when I used to spend hours doing Beth Moore expository studies on the back porch of my dorm room at Christian college.
In my new relationship with scripture I read to see God’s story– to see how God has faithfully guided humanity into relationship with the divine.
I read to know who God is– to gain a countercultural view of the world where the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
I read to be reminded of God’s inclusive love for all people– to see how even in the passages I want to throw out for their harshness of cruelty, there’s a message of hope, justice and concern for all.
I am the kind of Christian who believes in the ebbs and flows of our relationship with sacred texts.
I am the kind of Christian who won't make you feel bad for what you believe or if you've had your "quiet time" today.
I am the kind of Christian who is still seeking and reading the Bible just in different ways.
What about you?