The finer points of our faith are determined by our understanding and practice of Scripture. As Christians, we are all encouraged and expected to read the Bible in order that we might grow in our faith. Growing up in a Christian household, it was no different for myself. However, I never really read my Bible, except in times of personal strife and religious fervor, and instead I had the answers handed to me like so many others. If I ever had any questions, I would go to my church or my parents or simply leave my questions be. This ignorant bliss only lasted so long in my life, and eventually the worldviews and understandings I had been handed stopped holding up to the deeper questions I had begun asking. One conception after another failed me, and more often than not, I found myself being put to trial by others’ understandings of Scripture.
Eventually, after my life had all but fallen in on itself, I began to realize I could not go on living as I had. I needed to find the answers to the problems I had faced; I needed something more in my life than simply another person’s understanding of the world. So I decided to study the thing I had put on the back burner for so long. Unfortunately, that was not something I could do in the community I was in. After a while, I found Eastern, and for the last four semesters I have been studying the Bible and the Christian faith from a larger perspective.
During the short time that I have been here, I have been challenged by every professor and every class I have had thus far. To keep growing and understanding, often I have had to look at things in a new light and learn not only new things about the material but about myself as well. To say it has been difficult is putting it mildly, as these challenges have often stripped me of everything I thought I knew and pushed me past the limits of my own understanding and knowledge. It has been painful, but I have yet to regret any of it.
In my studies here at Eastern, I have begun to see a more complex and beautiful image emerge from the Bible than I ever knew existed. Scripture is no longer a rule book to me; rather it has become something so much more than that. It encourages the pursuit of wisdom, understanding, justice and love, as these are the very characteristics of the God it describes. At the same time, it presents hard questions and asks things of us that are not comfortable in the slightest. The environment here on campus and in the Bible department, however, has proven to be the perfect place for me to pursue and discuss all of it. The Bible invites us into a conversation that takes place around a diverse collection of literature. It is not a dusty old book to be left on the shelf or to be studied independently. In the end, the Bible asks us to have the courage to stand up and pursue God, and embrace the challenges and blessings that come with that pursuit.