A Biblical autobiography: My first assignment in seminary.
Growing up, my relationship with the Bible was primarily influenced by my mother’s love and dependence on Scripture, as well as the Church of the Nazarene’s focus on the Word. My mother loved Scripture because it revealed to her the God who helped her persevere through difficult times, and she spoke often of it being spiritual food. She went to many Bible studies, and currently goes to three each week. Once, when I was a child, she complained that she would never read the Bible as much as one of her friends, and I told her that if she read a little bit each day, she would read just as much, if not more than her friend. I don’t remember this, but now her Bible is well-worn, inscribed with small notes and red hearts, and she encourages me to read more when I feel that the words are dry, old and tired. Because of her, I hesitatingly acknowledge that it’s probably not the Word that is dry, old and tired, but it is my soul that is dry, clinging to old ways and tired of working toward understanding and grappling with the implications of truth.
The Church of the Nazarene’s focus on the Word was instrumental in ensuring that I had a grasp on the actual text of the Bible, rather than just the popular stories. The church I grew up in was in the heart of the Silicon Valley, full of geeks and engineers who were not afraid to question ideas, and who surrounded me with people who were inquisitive, yet faithful. Thus, I always had a curiosity and appreciation for the historical and cultural context within which the Bible was written and during which the events of the Bible took place. Today, I want to explore the roots of the Bible—how it was canonized, what its myths look like in comparison to other creation stories of the time, the nuances of language and translation, and the ambiguities that people do not often talk about. I want to tread the line between faith that it is an inspired work and the knowledge that it is written by flawed people. I get frustrated by the concept of “cultural Christianity,” in which the Bible has been taken and co-opted by people who want to elevate their ideas of how life should be lived and understood, rather than letting the Bible be sacred, full of mystery, and waiting to be known: a reflection of God.