Madison Church

Navigating Biblical Scholarship: Community, Canonization, and Modern Faith

February 19, 2024 Stephen Feith, Sarah Hanson, & Jason Webb
Madison Church
Navigating Biblical Scholarship: Community, Canonization, and Modern Faith
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever feel lost in the maze of biblical scholarship? Fear not, as my colleagues Sarah Hansen, Jason Webb, and I, Stephen Feith, light the way through varying approaches to Bible study and engagement. Sarah dispels the myth of 'right time' Bible study with her eclectic blend of podcasts and casual reading, while Jason draws from his predawn moments of peace, steeped in the Psalms. I share how Jesus' teachings in the Gospels offer a daily compass for my life, illustrating that whether in the quiet dawn or the midst of life's hustle, scripture speaks.

But what about the voices around us? Our latest discussion opens the floor to the indispensable role of community in biblical interpretation. Together, we navigate the tightrope between honoring scripture and avoiding its deification, promoting a narrative that invites us into larger conversations rather than ending them. We invite you to consider the beauty of divine communication through arts and expressions beyond the written word, and to engage in a faith that recognizes the presence of God in unexpected places.

Dive into history with us as we unpack the canonization of the Bible—a tale of divine inspiration interwoven with human decision-making. We provide reassurance that the core tenets of Christianity stand firm despite the human hands that assembled these sacred texts. The session rounds off with a look at how this process of canonization influences faith communities, including our own at Madison Church in 2024, reminding us of the human touch in our spiritual journey and its significance for believers today. Join us for an enriching exploration that acknowledges our collective role in the story of faith.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Madison Church Online. I'm Stephen Feith, Lead Pastor. We're so glad that you're joining us.

Speaker 1:

Today is a different Sunday gathering than what we're used to having.

Speaker 1:

Whereas I typically give a talk, Today I've invited teaching pastors Sarah Hansen and Jason Webb to join us as we answer your questions about the Bible. The past few weeks we've been in a series called Mature Audiences Only, in which we've been going taking a deep dive into the questions that we have about the Bible. We certainly couldn't get around to all of them, and so for this last Sunday, we kind of brainstormed and jumped up a scenario in which we just rapid-fired answers to your questions, and so if you're watching or listening online, we want to invite you to join us in person soon, but if you have questions about the Bible that we're not able to get to today, please send us an email at the bottom of our website, madisonchurchcom, and we will try to answer those questions. So this very first question we got is for all three of us, and it is what are the daily practices or routines that you panel members follow to engage with the Bible in your personal life? Sarah, you want to go first?

Speaker 2:

Thank you. I would love to start off the day All right. Well, I think the pastor answer is to say every morning I wake up at 4 am and I open my Bible and I read it for an hour and a half and that's how I start my day. But I don't really like to lie, so that's not what I do. I'm not a morning person. I don't like to engage with my Bible first thing in the morning. I don't like to engage with anything besides coffee. So there's that.

Speaker 2:

But throughout my day, I guess I find myself it's not the same every single day. Some days I will sit down and I will read for an hour, hour and a half, and sometimes I get stuck on these tangents and I, you know, go all these side trails and I want to know what are they talking about and I want to look it up online and find out what that meant in Greek, because I don't know how to speak or read Hebrew or Greek or any of those things. And so sometimes there's that. Sometimes it's listening to a podcast of somebody reading through the Gospels or something in my car. Sometimes it comes through a conversation with other people. You know a what, if or how do you one of these questions, even from just somebody in my life, and then you know we'll. Let's go look it up in the Bible. It can be my paper Bible, it can be, like I said, a podcast. It can be on my phone. I'll use them all.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And Jason.

Speaker 3:

Well, I get up at 4am every morning and read the Bible for an hour and a half. Of course you do. Is that the answer? No.

Speaker 2:

I actually do.

Speaker 3:

I become more of a morning person, not by choice, but because I have six children, and so I do get up early in the morning and find that that for me, is the best time to engage the Word of God. I've changed over the years how I engage it, though Earlier in my life I would have really gone heavy into studying and dissecting. I had, you know, study Bibles that were helpful, giving me information about the context. I had one that was the Archaeological Study Bible that I love because it gave me a lot of the understanding of the ancient Near Eastern times. But for me right now that's not very helpful. And it's not that it's not helpful. It may be the perfect thing for some of you to do.

Speaker 3:

For me, I need to take a very different approach right now in my life to scripture reading, and that's more of a personal, mysterious, meditative approach to it.

Speaker 3:

So I kind of have a routine, and that's there's a lot of reason to it, but I have a routine in the morning where I began with writing down some prayers and for the last five years I've just gone through the Psalms. It's the only book I've been in and every day I would just read a Psalm and just write down. I actually just write it word for word in my journal and then I just journal as to what God's saying to me in that and write it kind of as a prayer to God. This year I decided five years in the Psalms maybe I should move on to something else. But I've taken on a very, very, very simple approach that anybody can model in that. I have you version Bible app. Shout out to the guys who and ladies who made that. But there's just a verse of the day that comes in every day and right now I'm just copying that down in my journal, did it this morning and reflecting on that, allowing God's spirit to speak to me in whatever way the spirit wants to speak to me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I do the deep dive. Obviously, for those of you who know me, I wrote a book on Jude which takes two minutes to read, but it took me three years to write a book on and book plug it in the first question.

Speaker 3:

They're available for sale after the service.

Speaker 2:

They're on Amazon.

Speaker 1:

They're never getting a five star reviews the same Sunday again. You too can read uprising 1499.

Speaker 3:

It is actually a great book. Don't get us wrong.

Speaker 1:

Where was I going with that? So I read the Bible too, and not just the books I write, and. But this is, I imagine, since I pastor this church. You, all of you know me fairly well. We've got together, but, like I tend to, I hang out in the Gospels.

Speaker 1:

First and foremost, I'm reading the teachings of Jesus, and usually it's something that Jesus said, that, as I'm reading it again for the hundred millionth time, that if there's something that pops up to me, so a few weeks ago, this idea that like there's a new command I give you and that word new you know, gets up, I'm like, oh, wait that, why does that jump out at me? And then it goes from a spiral, goes to the deep dive, like what you're talking about, where it's like it's the obsession of just figuring out everything that I can and so, and then also pastoring here, like I'm planning teaching series out. It's about 15 months out, so it's at least a year pretty planned out. So there's future kind of gentle readings that I'm doing, just lightly leaning into and then, as we get closer to me actually having to teach it, there's a much deeper dive. I'll be honest.

Speaker 1:

I do not read every day, though, so I have a day off on Friday. That's very religious to me is to not work on Friday and I just don't get around to it. And maybe you could silently judge me and that's okay if that's you, but if you do read it all seven days, but for me it's not an everyday practice. What is the recommended starting point for someone who is new to the Bible? They're new to it. They don't know where to start. Where would you recommend as their pastor start? Let's start with Jason this time.

Speaker 3:

I think the general answer I would give people is start with Jesus, because that's really the trajectory of scripture is to focus towards Jesus, to point towards Jesus. So any just pick up one of the stories about Jesus Matthew, mark, luke or John. I usually recommend Luke because I like Luke, but I also think it's important to understand where people are at when they come to scripture. So if somebody's really struggling in life, I'm not necessarily gonna point them to one of the gospels or accounts of Jesus story. I'm gonna say just do what I've been doing, read a Psalm. You don't have to think about it, just read it, because the reality of life is in those. So that's what I would recommend, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, I know that Stephen's gonna tell everybody to start in the book of Jude, so I'm gonna stick with the gospels as well. I think that's usually where I would recommend for somebody to start. However, I kind of wanna know the person a little bit to decide which gospel I'm gonna recommend, because each one was written by a different person to different people for a different purpose, right and so, if you are strict, just give it to me straight and short as possible. Read Mark If you want all the drama. Read Luke If you are all about, you wanna hear how much Jesus loves you and God loves you and how much God loves his favorite me. But John, then start in John. I mean, if you have a really concrete understanding of the Old Testament, you're gonna wanna start with Matthew because it just makes sense for those contexts. So I guess I think it's a little bit more individualized, but I personally like Mark, so I send people there if I don't know the middle.

Speaker 1:

So we got Luke. Potentially we have Mark. I'm gonna say John. I think John requires the least amount of work to translate into our day and age. I think you can read it. It's a very straightforward reading. Theologically it can be very deep, but it reads also very easily and so I usually tell people yeah, to go with John. We're by my book, jude, and all the Jude references are getting cut out of the video and podcast.

Speaker 1:

This is just for you in the room now. Question three. This one I get the answer. It's how do we ensure that our interpretation of scripture remains faithful to its original context without imposing our contemporary perspectives? And so this is a great question.

Speaker 1:

I think, jason, you and I were talking this week that one of the things that we both don't like is how popular the inductive Bible studies are. Is it inductive or deductive? What Inductive Bible studies? And it's where you get together. We're gonna read a chapter of John, and then it's like what do you think this means? What do you think this means? What do you think this means? And those are very popular Bible studies. That I don't get it, because, as we're, this reoccurring theme that's coming on is like well, john had a purpose and it's not a mystery. We have so many good scholars and theologians and archeologists who can tell you precisely what John meant in that original context. And so I think, for all of us today, as we're learning, like, how do we do this? I think you gotta get like some sort of a study Bible. They come out with like different. We would use our commentaries, and so those are like an entire book on one book in the Bible. That might be too deep for you at this point, but a study Bible would be an absolutely great place to begin, if you're kind of like okay, I'm reading, I don't understand what's going on. We start there.

Speaker 1:

As always, when we begin studying the Bible, the very first question you need to ask is what did this mean to them? What did this mean to them? You can't just read it in our day and age, and so when I do my own personal deep dives with Jesus, I like to pretend I'm like the 13th disciple. I'm there and I'm hearing all of this, and that's why, like a lot of times when I'm speaking and teaching on the Gospels, like these jokes that I tell that sometimes you think are funny, most of them you don't know I'm joking and so I just move on really fast. But like I'm, like I feel like I'm the funny disciple, like I'm sitting there and I'm seeing all of the humor of the situation, and so I try to bring that.

Speaker 1:

But once you understand it in their context, we got to decide. Then I think, like what is the gap between their day and age and ours? Cause some of the questions we're gonna get to in a moment is the gap between us, and Leviticus is huge, it's deep and it's wide, and so the conversation with how does like Leviticus apply to us today Huge, huge, huge, huge John, as I already mentioned, it's narrower, it's not as deep, it's a little bit easier, and so I think that when we're talking about reading the Bible, understanding what it meant to them, figuring out what the differences are, and then we can begin to put some applications in our own life. But a bonus kind of point to this is I think community is key in the process. I think community is absolutely key.

Speaker 1:

Being in an environment like this, where the things that you think or the things that you understand are challenged rightfully, in a healthy context, with dialogue and conversation, we begin to get in trouble when we're studying the Bible by ourselves, all alone, unchallenged, not considering what other people think and their ideas as well. Not just other believers I would say that's critical but people who don't share our faith, and to take all of that in, as we're kind of messing around with that. And so those would be what I would say. Is there anything?

Speaker 3:

I would just add that you're never gonna be able to divorce your contemporary perspective from your reading. It's just impossible. That's why what Steven said is very vital studying in community, because that's where people will be able to share say, hey, you might have a blind spot here or that just may not be applicable to here. So I've just affirmed what you would say on that.

Speaker 1:

Anything to add?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I agree. I think it's again important to stay in community, because you shouldn't have a new idea. The Bible was written obviously really long time ago and there shouldn't be like oh I have this new revelation that nobody else has ever had.

Speaker 3:

That's weird. Yeah, that's weird.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly, you don't wanna start a cult.

Speaker 1:

If you do, let's talk. This next question goes to Jason, and the question was asked by somebody and it wasn't in the form of a question. You and I talked about this, but we tried to turn it into a question, which is how can I shift my perspective to relate more personally to the narratives in the Bible, coming from a background where the Bible was held in extremely high reference and just a little more context, it was almost like the Trinity Father, son, holy Bible, where the Bible is almost idol-like.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think it's a very, very dangerous tradition in the Lord churches to really uphold the Bible. Everything is about the Bible instead of about God. And then he talks about this. He said the prom with what we call the word is that we miss who the real word is. The real word scripture says, scripture itself says is Jesus the word, became flesh and dwelt among us, and so everything is about God. Everything is pointing to Jesus, the Spirit, god, the Father. So when we began to and some of you may come from traditions like this, where everything will show me in the Bible, it will show me in the Bible. It will show me in the Bible. That's not what the intent of scripture is, and so we run the risk of idolatry when it comes to scripture itself.

Speaker 3:

The other thing that happens is that we then limit God when we elevate scripture. The only way God speaks is through scripture. We're limiting God. We're saying, well, god can't speak through nature, god can't speak prophetically through people, god can't speak through art and music. I mean, I remember sitting at an Andrea Bocelli concert not too long ago. Many of you may know him, many of you may not. A great singer, many of you may not care, but I was there at an arena and I didn't understand the words. I was an Italian, I didn't understand really the meanings of the song, but the voice and the music lifted me to a plane up. Like this is God? Not that he's speaking about God, not that he's singing about God, but there's a beauty here that can't come from a human being, and so God does speak in these ways. So we don't want to limit that.

Speaker 3:

The other thing that happens when people begin to just say, well, show me in the Bible, is that they make the Bible something. It's not. You may have heard it this way, that the Bible is God's answer book to every question in life. That is the biggest lie I have ever heard and it has done so much damage to people over the years. I have so many questions about this week alone that scripture does not answer. Now, maybe it may point me in a certain direction, towards a step I should take, but it does not answer.

Speaker 3:

What the Bible is is a beautiful, messy, chaotic at times, collection of poems, letters, stories, perspectives of a story of God and his people, and it's a story you're invited into, and there are times where a writer may exaggerate to prove a point.

Speaker 3:

There are times where he may say something that makes you go, hmm, that's strange, but it's pointing you to something bigger. And so when scripture says when Timothy and Paul I mean Paul says in Timothy, all scripture is God-breed, that's not saying this means that this is an errant word of God. That's not the point. The point is, these writers and their experiences have come together and something collectively bigger is happening as you read it. It's this story that, even if you don't understand everything that happens in it or what is exactly saying, it's inviting your life into something bigger and you can even just kind of close your eyes and say, yes, that's what it is. And so actually, I think people who ask this question, who think that they have a high view of God, that is kind of like a proof textbook, have a very low view of scripture.

Speaker 1:

Those who idolize the Bible.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and those who are trying to unlearn that are sensing there's something more.

Speaker 3:

Exactly yeah.

Speaker 1:

What would be a practical step. Somebody coming from that background I mean like and you came from that background, yeah, I came from that background.

Speaker 3:

I would say this is where it's kind of the opposite of what we just said. Take out your, your highlighters and your cross references and stop. Just stop doing that for a little while you can come back to that later but just start to read it from almost a mysterious human perspective of okay, what's going through as he's writing this? Absolutely no, that's good.

Speaker 1:

Going to this next question with Sarah how can we and this is a popular one, we? I intended to answer it in the series and I didn't get around to it how can we reconcile or approach what we call, in theological circles, perceived inconsistencies Normal people say contradictions within the Bible. How do we approach those?

Speaker 2:

Well, that is a good question. I think there's there's kind of a couple different ways to look at it. I think there's, first of all, what? Where are you seeing the inconsistencies, you know, is it between something that happened in the Old Testament and something that happened in the New Testament? Because that's very. Those are very different places and times and people that are that are being written to and about.

Speaker 2:

But also, I think sometimes it's important to remember that the Bible is Not one book, right, it is 66 books written by a whole bunch of authors and throughout a great span of time, and some of those that was on purpose, right, we believe that got inspired to them to write what they wrote. But it we don't necessarily understand what that meant, what it looks like, what it felt like, right. So what we can see, even in the example of the Gospels, is four different Tellings of the same Several years. But it's told through their voice and that's why I said I would, I would want to know the person that I'm recommending, what they would, what they should start reading first, right, because you want to take a perspective that you're going to understand. But just because something is found in one book and not found in another doesn't mean it didn't happen. It just means that that person Didn't have that in there, in there at the front of their mind. That wasn't the highlight for them.

Speaker 2:

Similar to when we leave here today, somebody on this side of the room is gonna have a different remembrance than somebody over here about something that was said and Somebody is going to think that Stephen wrote a book on the book of James instead of Jude, because that just happens, right, but that doesn't mean that it was a lie. It just means there were misunderstandings or personal, personal things that got in there. And I don't I'm not gonna pretend to understand how and why got allowed Some Matthew, mark, luke and John to write similar but yet slightly different things. I have no idea, but God is okay with it, so I guess I am too. So there's that, and then also inconsistencies. I think it can feel inconsistent if we're, if we're trying to look at it again through our lens, through our cultural time and place, in our Perspective yeah, and I think of two.

Speaker 1:

Like when with the gospel is something that comes to mind, we got four different gospels all telling the same story, like I was. A couple weeks ago, lindsay had posted something that I think like half a dozen people at Madison Church shared. Who wrote it? There's one person who wrote it and six people shared it. That's not six different stories, that's one. Well, you get what the gospels are, as if four of us leave today or six of us leave today and we all go on Facebook and we all write our own thing about what happened. That's the story of the gospel. We were all there.

Speaker 1:

But then you have your own way, your own vocabulary, your own history, your own reason for writing parts that you're gonna be like this was really important to me, so I'm gonna write about that question and you've probably already forgot about the third question we asked. Some of you did because it wasn't important to you and you were spacing out and you know like and that's fine. But that's my fifth point is, too, when we're talking about corroboration, like if all of us witness the crime, if we all came in with the same story, that would be very suspect Like they would be. Like the people witness this Obviously got together and talked about it. They're using the same words and that's not human, and so it actually plays into the strength of the gospels in terms of historical reliability that they're different. When Jason, sarah and I leave today, if we're gonna talk about today Jason, you're probably gonna talk about Steven, because maybe you've talked about me before with some of your friends and maybe I've met them. But you'll say in this other pastor from Green Bay, sarah, you leave, you might mention me to your friends and a pastor from from Chicago, I, if I was talking to you, will use their names because you know them. And that's some kind of one of the contradictions.

Speaker 1:

Supposedly, is that the end of the gospels when we have different tellings of who found the empty tomb, because one uses Mary, one uses the women and one uses this. Well, they were all there, but all three of the writers who use different accounts were writing to different audiences who won. They might not have known Mary, so who cares? Why would you use her name? So there were some women that found them, but somebody who knows Mary says, ha ha, this is gonna be important. And so I definitely think that when it comes to that, as you mentioned those 66 books in the Bible. Like you cannot compare Leviticus to axe, I mean, they're just, it's not comparable. You also get the next question. You kind of leaned into it. You've already leaned into it a little bit. Considering the New Testament's view, the statement that Scripture is God breathes, how should we interpret and apply the Old Testament laws and contemporary Christian practice? I?

Speaker 2:

actually re listened to the Teaching he did a couple weeks ago, where most of you hear for that, and I agreed.

Speaker 1:

I agreed, I take my disclaimer back.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so obviously right, I Agreed I, I do believe that it is very important to remember that the Old Testament was written a very long time ago to a certain people From a certain viewpoint, for a specific purpose. Also, jesus came to fulfill Right, not abolish, those Old Testament laws, or Is that how it's written? History is all about?

Speaker 1:

yeah, yeah, so you know when I mean this isn't exactly a great example, but when, when I place an order with Amazon Once it's fulfilled, it doesn't mean I never replace that order, right?

Speaker 2:

So it's not like that didn't ever exist. It's not like we don't need that for reference for something. We do need to understand what was happening before, why it was important for Jesus to come. We know that the whole Old Testament points towards our need for Jesus. All of those 600 how many was there? 612 rules, 13? You poor people had to post up and sit and watch.

Speaker 2:

So all of those rules Were were there for a purpose for those people at that time. But also it brought to the to very clear that nobody can do that. Everybody will fall short. Everybody. There is not one of us who has no idea Short. Everybody. There is not one of us that can maintain all of those rules and laws and things that they thought we're at. Well, the things that God said at that time were absolutely necessary and they had to atone for those they had to. Oh no, now I screwed up, now I have to do this and all these things. And Jesus fulfilled that. Jesus made a way for us to be forgiven without having to do all of those things. Jesus made a way for us to have a new covenant. That Old Testament is an old covenant. That's what was. Now we have a new covenant under Jesus, a new covenant, and Sometimes I think people Aroniously think that the new covenant is easier. Just love God, love others, no big deal. I Think Steven said that right.

Speaker 1:

You said a new command I give you.

Speaker 2:

he said it was no big deal, right? No, I mean it sounds easier, but it's actually harder. Right, it is harder. You can't, you the old, let's say the ten commandments, right? We weren't supposed to murder people. If I'm loving somebody, I can't murder them. I just can't. Even though sometimes we might want to, then we're not loving that person, right? That's not okay.

Speaker 2:

Loving our God and loving each other is really hard and I can't do it. I can't do it alone, I can't do it without the Holy Spirit, I can't do it without my Jesus and I fail. And every time I fail I need Jesus to step in and cover me for that. So it's not. I don't want to say the Old Testament is washed away, no good. It always points to Jesus and the more I read the Old Testament, the more it makes me understand why Jesus had to come and why he had to have fulfill certain things in certain ways and what that actually means. It brings a deeper understanding to me in my walk with Jesus. But if you do want to go and try to live out those 613 laws, I mean, by all means go for it, but good luck.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and it's not Christianity. It is not Christianity. It's a different religion that people practice.

Speaker 2:

Jesus would not have come and died if all we had to do was follow a bunch of rules, he wouldn't have done it. Why would he do that? Why would he put himself through that? But he did.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think too, like we're okay. And what we've stated over and over again is that, like we're all okay with this idea, like we want to understand the original context and like what was going on, we're all okay with that. For the most part, nobody has shaken their head. No, like, not just matters what I think of it today, and we're okay with that. But then, when it comes to application, we're not okay with having different criteria for application. We're okay, we're okay having different criteria for reading it. But then when I say something like, well, we apply Leviticus differently to our lives than John, all of a sudden we go back to this kind of nope, we read it all the same way, mindset, except when it comes to the application. Right, that's what we do. No, it should all be equally applicable. Well, that's not true, as a matter of fact, when we're talking about one of those words that popped out to me.

Speaker 1:

I read a passage last week with you all and I had a moment. I had to keep going by it. But Paul says I told you what was most important. Now hold on a second. So now we have the apostle Paul in a New Testament letter that he writes acknowledging that there's parts of the message that are more important than other parts of the message. That's not today's sermon. That come out in a future book. Jason, with limited time, how can we reconcile the depictions of violence attributed to God in the Old Testament with the New Testament's emphasis on love and peace?

Speaker 3:

Limited time. Okay now I think first of all, you should be bothered by the violence in the Old Testament. I mean, if you're not, then there's. You probably should see a therapist, because that's like serious violence. I mean, there's story after story of, and then they went in and wiped out all the men, women and children and took all their donkeys and stole all their gold.

Speaker 3:

And you read it. You're like what in the world is going on? Well, I think you gotta understand again it goes back to context. You gotta understand the day and age in which this was written. Everything was about tribes, your tribe, and actually things haven't changed a whole lot. Your tribe was your identity. We call our tribes different now, but they had their tribe and every tribe had a God or gods and everything was about tribal survival, tribal welfare. It's about pursuing the good of your tribe. And so you understood that not only do I have my tribe, but every other tribe is trying to take me out.

Speaker 3:

And so you have these depictions and scripture of war and violence and all that where tribes come in and they wipe out in a war or a battle, another tribe and they don't leave anybody alive. Why? Because they thought for their survival. If we leave one person alive, then we run the risk of being taken out ourselves. We have to take everything of theirs. So you read that. That's the context and you should be bothered by it. It's brutal, it's violent, it's barbaric, but it was the day and age Kill or be killed. So writers are writing that that's the reality. They're writing that they'll say things like and then they killed the women and the children and took everything. And then this is the Mime-Own part.

Speaker 3:

God introduces something in the midst of it, side by side with that, something revolutionary. He says to Abraham you will be the tribe of all nations to bless other tribes. So, side by side with this brutality and this violence, is God introducing a totally different way of thinking and living, of saying okay, now you, in the midst of the way culture currently interacts, you start caring for the poor, you start caring for the alien, the refugee, the immigrant. You, you know, I know you've taken all the sand. Leave a little bit for the people who don't have some. Just leave a corner of your lot for them. And this is the trajectory of scripture.

Speaker 3:

Even as you go to the New Testament, people wonder why do you mention slavery in the scripture. It's not because God endorses slavery, my goodness no. Paul talks to slaves. He talks to them. They were not considered worth talking to in that day and age and he gives them instructions as if they're human beings. He's not saying slavery's okay, he's introducing and this is the trajectory of God. He's introducing a whole different way of elevating the marginalized and the oppressed. That is the trajectory of scripture. I'll get more passionate, but I probably should stop. But that's how I'd answer that question.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And then even that whole thing, you'll be a tribe that blesses other tribes. It's very. I mean, that's Jesus right. I mean those are the teachings of Jesus. I think when we're reading in the Old Testament and we see something like that from God, we're trying to like balance.

Speaker 3:

And I would say that trajectory continues. The scriptures, the canon's closed, but scripture and the story of scripture continues. So we are to always be introducing that trajectory of God to the marginalized and the oppressed, absolutely yeah 100%.

Speaker 1:

So this last question is what is the history and process behind the compilation of the biblical canon? And you could Google this, you can ask Chachi Pee and it'll tell you. But I wanna say a few things that I don't think you're gonna find One. It was a very human process and that makes you very uncomfortable. We want to imagine Jesus coming down from heaven with the gift box of that first Bible all completed chapters, verses and everything and said this is it, and here's where you can order more. You know like they got a. You know that's not it. And when we're talking about four different gospel writers and we're talking about God using inspiration and reality, we're talking about God working with people. And so why would we expect God to not work with people and putting it together? As a matter of fact? I'll go as far as to say, if we came out and there was one person who said God told me these are the 66 books of the Bible, I would say that's suspect, or sus, as the kids say, that's suspect. Why? Because God doesn't work like that. God works through multitudes of people over multiple times of the years. I mean the New Testament wasn't written in one year, it was written over the course of a century, our Bible as we have it today, the Old Testament. We're talking hundreds of years, different authors. So, of course, when we get to the canon and you're like, so a bunch of people just got together and decided which 66 books of the Bible were in there. God collaborated with human beings to write the books that we have and then God collaborated with human beings to put it together. That's just the way that God has always worked. Now, how did they decide these New Testament books? Okay, they had libraries, and a lot fewer than what we have today. I mean, libraries were like a major focal point in a city, so you might have had 10 or 12 like known libraries in that time and within those libraries they were already collecting the Bibles. And we can historically show you that at the end of the first and second centuries, almost all of these libraries had the same books of the Bible. What they might have not had is like one might not have had 2 Peter and one might not have had 3 John, but one might have had 3 John and 2 Peter but not had 1 Peter. So they get together and these guys they say, okay, look, the world is expanding People. Our churches are growing and they do what we do and I do. We want people to find and follow Jesus, and so they get together and they say we need to make this more accessible. How do we know which ones we are counting here? And they came up with the Canon. The word is a measuring stick. They came up with rules and they said, okay, if it was written by somebody who either witnessed Jesus' life and I witnessed, like Matthew or John, that counts. Or if they learned from somebody who was think Luke, who learned from people who were Jesus' followers, they say that counts. Or Paul, for example. So they come up with that and then they confirm it.

Speaker 1:

Now here's the last part You're like well, it's a very human process. I'm worried about it. Okay, I promise nothing substantial about your faith, what you believe and how you practice today. If 2 Peter isn't in the Bible, I promise nothing. What you believe about Jesus changes.

Speaker 1:

If 3 John isn't in there, I would go as far as to say you could take the book of Hebrews out of the New Testament and nothing shifts. You have less color in your picture. These books that we have in the New Testament provide a lot of color a lot of shade and it helps us. I mean, I'm glad that they're all in there, but it's not like we have a book in the Bible where you're like, well, if you remove this Holy smokes, everything you think and believe changes. It doesn't. It's coherent, it all flows together and if one was missing it doesn't change. So for me that's a really big deal. I accept that there's a human process to canonization, but then I also kind of want to know the risk. I'm okay with humans doing it, but in my own mind, in my own faith, I want to say well, what if they were wrong? Nothing changes for Stephen Feith or Madison Church in 2024. That's the bottom line.

Bible Engagement and Study Suggestions
Community and Perspectives on Bible Reading
Exploring Old and New Testament Relationships
Bible Canonization Collaboration