The Bible is not primarily a history of facts, but a history of faith. It is the epic narrative of human beings coming to believe in the radical unconditionality of God’s love. This narrative does not recount a divine revelation once offered, readily understood, totally accepted, and consistently practiced. That would have been much too simple—and woefully lacking in dramatic conflict. Rather, this majestic love story is about God’s relentless pursuit of humankind and humankind’s relentless struggle to respond. Because of humanity’s perennial contrariness, the struggle seems largely lost; but God, being God, never gives up on humanity. The Bible’s most persistent message is that no matter how many times and in how many tragic ways people fail to live up to the covenant, God will not fail the people. The Bible burns with expectant hope.
IS SCRIPTURE RELEVANT?
Still, for some, the questions may arise: Can we personally identify with this vast biblical literature that is such a rich combination of myth, legend, historical narrative, law, wisdom, psalms, prophecy, Gospels, letters, and apocalypse? Is Scripture still able to “speak” to our personal lives in the twenty-first century? Can Scripture become spiritually nourishing, transformative— and sacred—for us? In answer, let us first consider that in our post-Enlightenment age, we often grope in the dark for a God beyond the limits of our human reason— the same human reason that has still failed to answer ultimate questions after more than 500 years of rigorous scientific inquiry. In our postmodern age, we sometimes feel left behind the times in the search for authentic revelation we can surely trust. Advances in technology, plus the overwhelming volume of information demanding to be absorbed each day, tend to leave us more confused than ever, adrift in the dust storm of our doubts. Is anyone
out there? Is God absent or present? Aloof or involved? Is God still communicating
with us in our temples and churches? In our hearts?
From time to time, we may intuit that the divine is waiting to burst in upon us, but then we become afraid that we might be misled. Either we feel unworthy to receive God’s revelation or we simply cannot believe that divine-human communication is still possible: at least not for us. We may consider it appropriate to ask theological questions about God, to learn about God, to pray to God. However, to expect that divine reality might reveal itself personally to us? That suddenly God might be here for us? That seems positively audacious. Yet that is precisely what sacred Scripture, God’s Word spoken through the medium of imperfect human words, encourages
us to do. Indeed, commands us to do. Again and again, the Bible insists that divinity is not far away: “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Ps 145:18). We are told that God constantly breaks into our human reality in order to lead us, warn us, forgive us, heal us, renew us, inspire us, and most of all, love us.
PLEASE NOTE: The excerpt above is from the Introduction to my just-published book, Suddenly There is God: The Story of Our lives in Sacred Scripture (Cascade Books, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. To order a copy of the book, please visit: wipfandstock.com/suddenly-there-is-god.html. This blog may not be copied or reprinted without the express permission of the author. Thank you!