Dr. Boyd Whaley and I have been discussing the importance of Bible study in the life of the church since we began working together in 2010. Personally my journey with the Bible has taken some dramatic turns throughout my life.
As a child, I learned the stories of the Bible. As an adolescent, I searched my Bible to learn what it had to say about the topics I wasn’t comfortable discussing with my parents. Just before leaving for college, I packed my Bible away completely because I couldn’t reconcile what I learned in science class with the lessons being taught in Sunday School and I had no place to work through my struggle. After having children, I returned to studying the Bible so that I could answer the challenging questions that my then 4 year old daughter was asking.
Through Disciple Bible Study and Christian Believer I learned more about the Bible than just searching for relevant texts to speak into my challenge for the day. Those studies opened the Bible to me as a pathway to transformation. I grew and changed and allowed my day-to-day decisions to be influenced by my study of the Biblical text.
Over time I grew complacent, and the Bible once again became a source for completing a particular task or securing particular information. I would look for specific things in the Bible that met the requirements for a given sermon or study. I also made sure that I was present whenever Boyd taught a Bible study because I learned so much about the text.
I was close to the Bible, but not open to the Bible.
For me that all changed when I started reading the Bible every day. And what I’m learning through that process offers an experiential dialogue partner with Boyd as together we wrestle with the responsibility of the church to facilitate transformational Bible study.
The key word here is transformational. We are talking about studies that facilitate change, and the anticipation of change is frequently accompanied by fear — fear of losing something familiar, something precious. Boyd and I both experience study of the Bible as life giving, something worth embracing in the presence of fear. We invite you to join us in this conversation where Boyd is wrestling with the idea that a Bible study that is not transformational can actually be considered destructive.
In this part of our conversation, Boyd points out that everyone who participates in a Bible study is already on a Holy journey. Each person brings a viewpoint about the Biblical text and a unique personal experience that can contribute to the growth of the entire group, including the facilitators. I find when I read the Biblical text each day, I naturally have questions, and issues emerge that I need to work through.
It is my deepest hope that church is a place that facilitates working through these questions and issues, where people of all ages and stages can find dialogue partners to discuss and explore their unique Holy Journey in conversation with the Biblical text.