Dust off your Bibles!

March 28, 2012 | Viewpoints | Number 7
Rudy Baergen |

Over the years, the Faith and Life Committee of Mennonite Church Canada has often heard questions about the place of Scripture in our lives:

  • “Do our people read the Bible anymore anyway?”
  • “Does how we think about an issue depend on how we read Scripture?”
  • “Where do we place the Bible with respect to other ‘tools’ of discernment?”

There is a growing unease over Scripture’s apparent loss of importance for individuals and communities. In response, the Faith and Life Committee proposed that we set aside Assembly 2012 to focus on reading, interpreting and delighting in Scripture. Our dream was to plan an assembly where we would delight in Scripture in a holistic way, and read Scripture with fresh eyes for the context in which we live. Dreaming for this study conference began in the spring of 2010.

Now we are only three months away from the 2012 Vancouver assembly (July 12 to 15), and we are excited to see how it is taking shape. We anticipate that “Dusting off the Bible for the 21st Century” will be an inspirational experience, bringing together joyful worship, thoughtful presentations by Bible teachers who have spent their lives delighting in Scripture, comedy presentations by Ted Schwartz, and approximately 25 workshops organized under the themes of “Biblical studies,” “Anabaptist perspectives,” “Christian formation,” “Worship,” and “Reading Scripture in the 21st century.”

There will also be worship and prayer opportunities, an art exhibit and more. Within this celebration of Scripture we have also set aside several hours to further the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) process. We will have an update on the responses we received to the Scripture Discernment and Feedback Tool, and reflect on how we want Scripture to guide us as we continue the BFC process.

For whom is this assembly/study conference? We hope that a broad cross-section of people from across the land and the generations will come: people of diverse cultures and traditions in our church; lay people and pastors; younger and older; and people with much Bible knowledge and those without. Child care for children to age 10 will be provided for those who register by May 15.

Why should people attend? Our Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective declares that “Scripture is the fully reliable and trustworthy Word of God written in human language.” Later it comments, “We commit ourselves to persist and delight in reading, studying and meditating on the Scripture.”

If that is what we believe, we need to act on it!

For many, Scripture continues to play an integral role in daily life and decision-making. But there are growing indications that, as a Mennonite people, we are becoming less biblically literate and less sure about the value of Scripture in our post-Christendom time. We believe it is critical that we address this reality in our endeavour to be a faithful people of God. And we believe it needs to begin with delighting in, and celebrating, Scripture.

Rudy Baergen is chair of Mennonite Church Canada’s Faith and Life Committee.

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