Over the last year I’ve been digging into the weird world of Biblical Theology. I say the weird world, because for me, it has been a journey into a world I thought I knew well, but soon realised I have only just begun to understand.
Perhaps like a lot of modern Christians, I have a background in Church and thought I knew the Bible pretty well, but as I’m starting to find there is so much more to this wonderful old book: things that can shake you, things that make you question, things that make you stand back in awe and wonder and things that compel you to come in closer.
I’m learning that the things I thought I knew often came from a mixture of what I’ve read and experienced of God, swirled in with a good measure of what tradition has taught me. To start with I was really unsettled by what I was reading: for example, modern Bible archaeology is now fairly certain that the Exodus story did not take place in quite the way the story tells us. And if a story as foundational as Moses and the children of Israel escaping Egypt to head to the Promised Land can be questioned, how much of the Bible can I rely on?
I know some people think it’s silly to dig too much into these things, preferring to hold on to our traditions in faith. But even while I was thinking about putting the books in the freezer for some mental respite, I felt the challenge of God to me… if I don’t believe that the Bible will stand the test of ‘eyes wide open’ study, then do I really believe it at all?
I imagined it like a house built on a foundation of sand- as soon as testing comes the house would tumble. If my faith was built on a mixture of truth, assumption and tradition then it might as well be a sand castle waiting to be washed away. So, I decided to continue. I invited God to show me where I have foundations of sand, and made up my mind to become a learner again. Even if what I found made me uncomfortable, I believed if I just kept going, I would find God in there. My new approach to studying the Bible could be summed up in two words: Courage and Humility.
I’m now writing this How to Read the Bible series really as a way to focus in on what I’ve been discovering and what I believe God has been showing me. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it inspires you to look at the Bible again with fresh eyes, but it’s also there for me to help clarify what I’m learning. So, expect contradictions, expect changes of mind, expect to disagree with some bits, maybe even all of it – that’s all OK! I’m certainly no expert after a handful of books and several months investigation, but I wanted to share the journey and to invite you to journey with me – out of assumption and tradition and ‘the way we’ve always done it’ to move towards the experiential knowledge of the God of the Bible.