These days I regularly have unsettling experiences as I read the Bible, where I find myself wondering ‘what is all that about?!’
I just had one this morning as I was using sacred space where a passage that I once would have ‘understood clearly’ no longer made as much sense.
It is a bit disorienting to have this happen regularly, yet its also a sign that the grids thru which I am reading scripture have changed. For the last 5 or 6 years I have often found myself in a state of dissonance where I ‘know’ what I was taught as a young person, but now as an older person I am either discontent with or questioning the answers/interpretation that was offered.
I don’t think its a bad thing – in fact I think its a natural and healthy thing – but my tradition is not especially good at questioning (we are better at knowing) so it is almost a discipline to sit with a passage and accept that I don’t know what its saying and today I don’t have time to dig further into it.
Makes me realise why Barth was keen to sum things up in ‘Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so’. I have referred to Alan Jamieson‘s book ‘A Churchless Faith’ before and appreciated his insights into how EPC churches tend to deal in certainty and do not like questioning – this has certainly been my experience – and yet if people are to mature in faith they must be allowed to enter and experience mystery and uncertainty.
I sense we are generally afraid of questioning in case during the quest people lose faith altogether, but maybe we need to trust that God is bigger and stronger than we have allowed him to be and can walk with people thru the haze and grow them deeper because of the experience.
I find it a little annoying regularly discovering that so many of my pre-learned biblical interpretations no longer feel satisfying, but then I’m enjoying the journey too.