A Biblical Community

A Biblical Community
By Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

“[The bible] is formative, not normative.” Delwin Brown (Dean Emeritus of the Pacific School of Religion)

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (founder of Reconstructionist Judaism) taught, “For us God did not reveal the Torah; the Torah reveals God.” Here at the Sunshine Cathedral we spend a lot of time with the bible. We offer classes where we study the bible. We offer daily and weekly devotionals where scripture is often quoted. We record programs which we broadcast on You Tube and many of those programs deal with biblical themes. We read at least one and sometimes up to three biblical passages in every Sunday service. Our Sunday homilies always focus on a biblical teaching. In fact, those who are most active in the life of our church often say they have learned more about the bible in the last two or three years at Sunshine Cathedral than they ever learned throughout their religious lives.

One of the reasons that I think people are able to embrace the bible so enthusiastically at Sunshine Cathedral is because we make it accessible. We don’t treat it like a book of magic, or a book of doomsday predictions, or a book of do’s and don’ts that must be blindly followed. Rather, we combine historical-critical, social scientific and allegorical approaches to scripture to learn what people in antiquity were trying to communicate about their experiences of life and faith. We then allow ourselves to use our own lives to add meaning to the reading; the study of scripture then is a dialogue rather than a bunch of dictates from on high. As we wrestle with the stories of the bible, gleaning truth which often has nothing to do with fact, we are able to articulate our own faith stories better and as we do that, we heal and grow. The bible as a friend and dialogue partner helps us in our constantly evolving spiritual formation; it is formative, not normative, and that makes it a great blessing indeed.

 

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