I find myself sitting in church or writing sermons all too often, as a Bible Nerd. What occurs to me every-time I sit down is that many people see no importance in the Bible, especially in a scientific age. The Bible is not a factual history, it lacks immediate application(besides using it as a booster seat or door stop), and it seems to be full of outmoded stories. It is of value to ask, “Why keep it?”
The easy answer I give as a pastor is,”It is a part of our tradition. It gives us a connection to those who walked before us.” This does not mean, “Keep it cause its always been that way.” For parts of Christian history it wasn’t that way. Instead this means that like our ancestors we have the opportunity to engage in these texts. By engaging them we leave our own fingerprint upon them and change the religion of which we choose freely to join. These fingerprints are our interpretations of these texts and the way we interpret them will help future generations use these stories to see the world in new ways.
A great modern example is the way the civil rights movement used biblical stories to enhance their movement. The power of the stories was utilized, such as Moses, to uplift the need to be free of oppression. This reinterpretation of a common story gave a link between entire portions of the movement to move to a current era promiseland. A land that was dreamed to be a place free of segregation, racial bias, and where people of different races could learn to live together. The uniting stories of the Bible helped people dream together of what this might look like.
Couldn’t you do this with any book?
You can do this with any book. Many groups unite around books to gained a shared understanding of their world. That is why book clubs and groups are so fun. We gain a shared understanding by reading through a narrative together. Discussion and debate help us to understand the book in new light and engage what the author is saying.
The reason I as a Christian like the Bible is that all other Christians unite around this book. By discussing and debate it this book we grow in understanding together. Through this interpretation we begin to see ways in which we are similar and dissimilar. These differences help us draw different readings and directions for which we can try and interpret God’s kingdom here on earth. It is not the end all book of rules, but it does give us a common narrative and language to discuss.
For Progressive Christians the Bible becomes a powerful tool of stories of the oppressed or outcast rising up to meet challenges. It shows the pain that humanity can cause, and the love that is possible if we believe in the greater kin-dom of God.
The Bible isn’t perfect, but it is still very relevant to what we do today.