Using the book of Job as an example, CAC teacher Brian McLaren suggests that God’s revelation through the Bible comes from the ongoing dialogue and relationship the Bible inspires between God and ourselves. He teaches:
Revelation occurs not in the words and statements of individuals, but in the conversation among individuals and God. . . .
Revelation accumulates in the relationships, interactions, and interplay between statements. . . .
To say that the Word (the message, meaning, or revelation) of God is in the biblical text, then, does not mean that you can extract verses or statements from the text at will and call them “God’s words.” It means that if we enter the text together and feel the flow of its arguments, get stuck in its points of tension, and struggle with its unfolding plot in all its twists and turns, God’s revelation can happen to us. We can reach the point that Job and company did at the end of the book, where, after a lot of conflicted human talk and a conspicuously long divine silence, we finally hear God’s voice. . . .
As we listen and enter into the conversation ourselves, could it be that God’s Word, God’s speaking, God’s self-revealing happens to us, sneaks up, surprises and ambushes us, transforms us, and disarms us—rather than arms us with “truths” to use like weapons to savage other human beings? Could it be that God’s Word intends not to give us easy answers and shortcuts to confidence and authority, but rather to reduce us, again and again, to the posture of wonder, humility, rebuke, and smallness in the face of the unknown? . . .
If we want the Bible to be a constitution, it isn’t enough. It isn’t at all. Nor is it enough as a road map for successful living, as a set of blueprints for building a life, institution, or nation, or as an “owner’s manual” . . . . But as the portable library of an ongoing conversation about and with the living God, and as an entrée into that conversation so that we actually encounter and experience the living God—for that the Bible is more than enough. . . .
I hope [this approach] will try to put us in the text—in the conversation, in the story, in the current and flow, in the predicament, in the Spirit, in the community of people who keep bumping into the living God in the midst of their experiences of loving God, betraying God, losing God, and being found again by God. In this way, by placing us in the text, I hope this approach can help us enter and abide in the presence, love, and reverence of the living God all the days of our lives and in God’s mission as humble, wholehearted servants [Richard: and friends, I might add] day by day and moment by moment. Even now.
Brian D. McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith (New York: HarperOne, 2010), 89–90, 91, 93, 96–97.
Explore Further. . .
- Listen to Richard’s teaching on Jesus’ use of Scripture, CD, MP3.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image Credit: Barbara Holmes, Untitled 17 & 20 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States, used with permission. Warren K. Leffler, Civil rights march on Washington, D.C., 1963 (detail), Photograph, public domain. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to core teacher Dr. Barbara Holmes as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. Her photos are featured here together with historical images in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image Inspiration: The Bible reveals the ongoing work of liberation by God and God’s people. It is a bridge to our understanding of God moving through the ordinariness of time and space. Just like this river: symbolizing the continuing story of the struggle for justice as it flows around and through this freedom fighter of the 1960s.
Story from Our Community:
As a society, we have forgotten justice for those in need. In the Bible, Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. By letting our neighbor live in poverty and without nourishment is not love. In Galatians, Paul says, “They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.” Sometimes, I think that we remember the poor, but that is all.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.