Scripture and community were the focus when Mennonite Church B.C. members gathered at Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford on April 14, 2018, for Reading the Bible Together.
Resource person Tim Geddert, a professor of New Testament at Fresno Pacific University’s Biblical Seminary in California, called the Bible a “rich storehouse of treasure awaiting learners.”
In his first session, “Scribes who are becoming disciples,” Geddert talked about both scribes and disciples in Jesus’ day, the “scribes” as experts and know-it-alls, and the “disciples” as lifelong learners. “One of the biggest enemies of discipleship is thinking we know it all,” he said, urging listeners never to think that they understand everything, but to be lifelong learners.
He told of his own faith journey, from thinking he knew everything about the Bible and had all the answers, to realizing that “all reading is influenced by perspectives.”
“If we can avoid the temptation to think we have finally got everything figured out, we can be set for on a life-long quest of learning over and over again,” he said. “And we can also learn to disagree respectfully, because we can see why other people interpret texts differently than we do.”
Geddert’s second session dealt with how people read the Bible. He said many believe that it’s as simple as reading a Scripture passage, taking it literally and applying it directly to all life situations.
“There is, in fact, a great deal in Scripture that is not simple and straightforward,” he said. “A lot that needs careful discernment and sometimes hard work, a lot that is open to serious dialogue and a lot that can quite easily lead to very diverse conclusions.”
Reading and interpreting Scripture together, in the community and for the community, was the focus for Geddert’s third session. He said that it is important to read the Bible communally because “first and foremost . . . most of Scripture was written primarily to address communities, not to address individuals. Reading as a community is reading as the authors intended the texts to be read.” He used Acts 15 as an example of how the early church used Scripture to discern together answers to moral and ethical questions.
The text for all of Geddert’s presentations is available online at mcbc.ca/conferences/.