“Mary Cosby used to begin her New Testament class by bending her soft-cover Bible and saying she preferred a Bible that was flexible. Then she would say, ‘The Bible is not a manual for morality, but a mirror for identity.”’ Carol Martin, Bread of Life Church, “A Mirror for Identity,” Weekly Gospel Reflection, Inward Outward Together, InwardOutward.org, Church of the Saviour, July 15, 2018.
My first introduction to this deeper and more flexible Bible study was with a small group of people at St. Mark’s in Little Rock in the 1990’s with a leader named Dick Moore in a room above the children’s classrooms that we called “the upper room.” As we studied the books of the Bible, Dick reminded us that the Bible was a roadmap not the destination.
I think of old friends like Carole and Gary Kimmel who were in our class who now live on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I think of Brady and Betty Anderson who now may be in Charleston who went on to be Bible translators in Africa in Tanzania and later the American ambassador to that country. They all taught me so much. Together we saw new insights that we had never seen before in the Bible.
As we saw God at work in the lives of people in the Bible who were just like us with gifts and faults, we also became more aware of God, the Holy Spirit, at work in our own lives and those of people we encountered. We began to see that the relationship of the Holy Spirit did not stop with first and second century Christians, but the Spirit is still leading us today. If we only believe a strict literal translation of the Bible we are denying the continued presence of the Holy Spirit working in our lives today and telling us more good news.
I am thinking of the Bible I received from my bishop seventeen years ago at my ordination. It as well is flexible.