Discussing the Bible: Seven Rules of Engagement


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

I have mentioned before that I believe evangelicals in the U.S. are about to engage in a big conversation about the Bible—a conversation about how we interpret it, how we apply it, how we talk about it, and how we relate to it. My hope is that we will move forward with a more nuanced, inclusive, and humble approach to the Bible, one that leaves room for a diversity of interpretations and applications while preserving the Bible’s time-tested value and authority. To do this, I suspect we will have to agree on some basic “rules of engagement.” In my own life, I’ve found these to be helpful: 

1) I won't question your commitment to the Bible just because you interpret it differently than I do. 

2) I won’t use the Bible as a proof-texting weapon of mass destruction. 

3) I won’t accuse you of “picking and choosing” when we all employ some selectivity when interpreting and applying the Bible.

4) I will use the word “biblical” properly—as a descriptive adjective, not a prescriptive one.(The cartoon above illustrates the need for this perfectly!) 

5) I won’t use the words “plain” or “clear” when referring to an ancient collection of stories, poems, letters, laws, history, prophecy, and philosophy—all written in a language and culture very different from my own.

6) I will keep in mind that my interpretation of the Bible is only as inerrant as I am.

7) I will use the Bible as a conversation-starter, not a conversation-ender.

So which of these rules of engagement interests you the most (for future conversations here on the blog)? Would you add any more? 

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Note: (The cartoon is used with permission from Mick Mooney at SearchingforGrace.com. Be sure to check out his blog!)

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