We have just completed week 2 of our summer series, Free and Faithful: Exploring Baptist Life. We began our series with a look at the Baptist principle of soul freedom. You can find that sermon here: Why I’m A Baptist. I followed that sermon with a few book recommendations for those who want to learn more about soul freedom and what it means to be a Baptist. You can read that blog post here: Books on Baptist Life.
This past Sunday I preached a sermon on the Baptist view of the Bible according the Baptist Faith and Message, 1963, which we as a congregation use as our confession of faith. You will be able to view that sermon titled, The Scriptures: Still Appealing, Still Inspiring in a few days. As promised, I would like to share a few recommendations for additional reading on ways of understanding the Bible as well as a method of reading the scriptures you can use in your own devotional time with God.
- Evans, Rachel Held. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2018. You can buy it here: Inspired
This is the book I began my sermon citing and cannot say enough about it. As a kid growing up in the Evangelical Bible-belt, Evans experiences reflect many of my own coming of age drenched in the beauty and complexities of scripture. I met Rachel at a conference in 2010 shortly after she published her first book. Little did I know she would become the voice for many Christians of my generation. Sadly, Rachel passed away earlier this year at the age of 37, leaving behind a husband and two small children. The back of the book reads:
“If the Bible isn’t a science book or an instruction
manual, then what is it? What do people mean when they say the Bible
is inspired? When Rachel Held Evans found herself asking these questions,
she began a quest to better understand what the Bible is and how it is meant to
be read. What she discovered changed her–and it will change you too.
Drawing on the best in recent scholarship and using her well-honed literary expertise, Evans examines some of our favorite Bible stories and possible interpretations, retelling them through memoir, original poetry, short stories, soliloquies, and even a short screenplay. Undaunted by the Bible’s most difficult passages, Evans wrestles through the process of doubting, imagining, and debating Scripture’s mysteries. The Bible, she discovers, is not a static work but is a living, breathing, captivating, and confounding book that is able to equip us to join God’s loving and redemptive work in the world.”
- McKnight, Scot. The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. You can buy it here: Blue Parakeet
Scot McKnight is the professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Chicago. His understanding of the Bible in the greater context of Church history has made him a premier scholar respected among conservative and progressive Christians alike. His podcast and blog, The Jesus Creed is also great!
“Parakeets make delightful pets. We cage them or clip their wings to keep them where we want them. Scot McKnight contends that many, conservatives and liberals alike, attempt the same thing with the Bible. We all try to tame it. McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet calls Christians to stop taming the Bible and to let it speak anew to our heart. McKnight challenges us to rethink how to read the Bible, not just to puzzle it together into some systematic belief but to see it as a Story that we’re summoned to enter and to carry forward in our day.”
This is a great resource for those of us who want to read the Bible and pray more but don’t know how to start or where to find the time. Each day Pray as You Go offers a scripture reading from the lectionary, questions to prompt prayer and reflection, and moments of silence. The daily meditations follow the liturgical calendar and are less than 15 minutes. I often find myself listening on my way to the office. You can also download the app for your phone or tablet.
- The Lectionary and Lectio Divina
Few methods have transformed my reading of the Bible and spirituality like the Lectionary and Lectio Divina. You can read more about the Lectionary here: Living Liturgically and Lectio Divina here: Lectio Divina
Please remember that these are just suggestions to get you going. Whatever you find yourself doing and however you do it, just read the Bible! God is present in the text and Christ, the Living Word of God, will lead you in the right direction.
This Sunday we will continue our series with a theological exploration of the Trinity and the Baptist understanding of God’s nature. I believe God, the Father Son, and Holy Spirit, are a Divine Dance to which we have all been invited! I hope to see you on the dance floor this Sunday!