How Do You Read the Bible? Reflections on Biblical Interpretation Through Anabaptist Eyes

by Verle Brubaker

On Saturday, April 18th, 86 members of Franconia Mennonite Conference met to reflect together on how we read the Bible: as a rule book, as a recipe book for a good life, or as a love letter/story from God to his people.

11163742_814889555269509_5328659253768813484_nComing out of the event I have a renewed purpose to dive into the Scriptures as the revelation of Jesus, God’s word to us. The Bible is a word that reveals the story of God’s love for humanity, as experienced and written by the saints of old. It is a complex and multi-faceted account of that love, what it looks like, and how it was and is experienced.

Seeing this as a love letter and story from/about the Beloved drives us to read, study, and explore not only the words on the pages but the situations, contexts, and world views that are a part of the telling. It cannot be a flat, just-the-facts reading.  I don’t read the letters from those I love that way. I devour and read the intimate nuances of each word and paragraph, seeking to know the beloved better.

If our first desire in coming to Scripture is to know this God who loves beyond all imagination, than we will find a growing and deepening love for this Jesus-looking God, and in seeing him we will see each other in his light.

So I come away from the day with a deeper appreciation and desire to know and follow Jesus better by delving more deeply into the Scriptures.

Dawn Moore, a member of Souderton Mennonite Church’s board, shares: “I gained new insight into traditional Anabaptist values as we discussed how those values relate to our church today. Laura {Brenneman}’s comparison of the church to a choir of voices was the most thought-provoking analogy for me. She encouraged us to listen to all the voices in our midst, including those that are more tentative and quiet. I was left wondering: how do we keep those voices singing in tune? Is it important for them to be reading the same music? I am glad I gave a beautiful spring Saturday to meet with other believers and hear their voices on these topics.”

Laura Brenneman, adjunct professor with Eastern Mennonite University and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, presented an Anabaptist overview of the Bible. Terry Brensinger, vice president of Fresno Pacific University, dean of the Biblical Seminary and professor of pastoral ministries, addressed Anabaptism and the Old Testament. To round out the day, Dennis Edwards, senior pastor with the Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, spoke on Anabaptism and the New Testament. Podcasts of these presentations are available here (click on Events tab).

If you were not present, be sure to listen to the podcasts, read the listening committee’s reflections (upcoming Intersectings article), and/or find persons who were there and ask them to tell you what they heard and experienced.

Verle Brubaker pastors the Swamp Mennonite congregation in Quakertown and is a member of Franconia Conference’s Ministerial Committee.