The Good Book

“When we accept the Bible as the moving, changing, adaptive organism it is, we will more readily accept our own sacred responsibility to engage the ancient biblical story with wisdom, to converse with the past rather than mimic it—which is to follow the very pattern laid out in the Bible itself. A rulebook view of the Bible misses that dynamic process entirely; indeed, it seems determined to obscure it.”

Peter Enns

I appreciate how Enns communicates, “The Bible is not the problem” (Enns, 2019, p. 20).  When I think that I have embedded ways of understanding the Bible that conflict with modern scholarship, I feel good about the author of the Book of Deuteronomy calling it “the words that God spoke” because it frees me from the burden of literalism.  I have found that fear-based theology does not support my growth and I have learned to give myself permission to not be psychologically bound by the fear of misperceiving God.  I think that being taught muuuuuch Christian fundamentalist dogma as a child and for part of my adult life has been a disservice and that quality scholarship reminds me, “The Bible is great—not because it is an answer book, but precisely because it isn’t; not because it protectively hovers over us, but because it most definitely doesn’t” (Enns, 2019, p. 20).  To the author, this was the word of God through the mediation of humanness.

Enns goes on to write, “The Law, however, is tied to a storyline, and so, as we’ve seen, laws in Deuteronomy and Exodus differ, because they are separated on Israel’s timeline by wandering and soul-searching in the desert for forty years (at least as the story is told—hold that thought). Deuteronomy adapted and adjusted earlier laws for later times and circumstances, like amendments to the Constitution or a Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment allows the banning assault rifles, because the world has changed since the eighteenth century” (Enns, 2019, p. 77).  Things like this that pollute my skewed schema are like a breath of fresh air because it reminds me that I do not have all the variables with which to make a decision about a passage/pericope/book so, it is best to keep an open mind.  Enns shares that this text was written “for the frustratedly Christian—who has seen that the Bible doesn’t meet the expectations they have been taught to cling to” and for that I am grateful because at the end of a wonderful theological education, being deeply deconstructed, I find a renewed, yet different usefulness of the Bible, and it relates more to what Enns describes (Enns, 2019, p. 17-18).


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