On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
Acts 17: 10-12
I've just wrapped up teaching for 2012 for LifeAustin women.
And I'm already itching to get to 2013.
I'm really excited about the topic for the New Year. Already pulling out notes from previous teachings, re-reading some favorite books, trolling for some new ones.
I'll be teaching on Bible Origins.
I think it is so, so important.
Because here's the thing...
As believers, we say we are people of the Book. And we have lots of copies of it. And we quote it. And we carry it around.
But not many of us know how we actually got it.
I have something I say often in my classes...."Go deep or go devo." And what I mean by that is this...
Stay at more of a devotional level. Or go deep, deep in. Dig into the Hebrew. And the Aramaic. And the Greek.
But literally for heaven's sake, don't sit in the middle and then try to debate and converse and convince non-believers around you. Please. Don't do that.
I often find that believers can be rocked when they discover the Bible didn't drop out of the sky, pre-bound in a leather cover with margin notes intact. When Dan Brown's The Davinci Code was published in 2003, I found myself teaching Bible history at a variety of churches as believers were struggling to understand the fiction of Brown's book but also to deal with some of the historic truths it used in its plot. I saw people have their faith rocked as they tried to understand the compilation of ancient scrolls and letters and councils and the Catholic church and the Vulgate.
Somehow, we haven't done a great job making sure people know how we got this Book of ours.
But, to me, it is a wondrous story, a miraculous story of the Spiritual stitching together of epochs and history and poetry and rhyme.
The Bible can and does stand. Even more majestically when the incredible details of its compilation are studied.
But it takes study. It takes delving into the history. It takes a willingness to struggle and read and sift.
Which is why...
Go devo. Or go deep.
The Bereans were citizens of the northern Greek city of Berea whom the Apostle Paul encountered in his teaching travels. He was so impressed, not with their easy agreement of his teaching, but rather with their diligence to search scripture, to test and study and learn and talk about this gospel Paul was presenting. And as they searched and studied, they came to vetted belief.
Too many of us, myself included, sling around scripture like cheap quaint sayings and quotable quotes. We are offended if someone says the Bible isn't true, but we ourselves haven't wrestled with the questions and mysteries surrounding its origin.
We haven't even asked.
Go devo. There is nothing wrong with simple faith. Not at all.
Go deep. There is beauty and power in going through piles of dictionaries and commentaries and history books.
Just don't pose. Don't position as a Middle Road Theologian. A non-believer will sniff you out. Every.Time.
Let your theology be gentleness and love. Let your words be few. Let your wonder take you to a place of simple faith or the immense library racks of history and language.
Go devo. Or go deep.