In February I've been asked to come and speak to the congregation of Knox Presbyterian in Ottawa. I will be sharing for two nights, Feb. 6th and 20th, on the relationship we have with scripture. The official title is The Book of the People, which is a shortened from what I was originally thinking: The Book of the People; the People of the Book. The phrase People of the Book comes from my Muslim friends, it is a way I've heard them describe Christians and Jews. But what strikes me about it is that I am convinced that Christians are becoming less and less the People of the Book - meaning that the importance of scripture is waning. It isn't that there are less appeals to scripture, it has to do with the role of scripture in our midst. Scripture is not seen as the authority, but is used to validate authority. What I mean by that is that scripture is used to bolster our pet ideas and make our ideological stances with little regard for the text itself. It is used as a tool. I think this is backwards. Scripture isn't a tool. Scripture is much more dangerous than that. It's authority should come not from our ability to bolster our pet ideas with proof texts (often torn out of context) it should come from scriptures ability to transform our thoughts and actions. Book of the People should not mean that Scripture is at our mercy, but that we should be the people who are shaped by the book. But we do this by relating to the Book - so ironically it never stops being the book of the people (which it always has been - even when it was written it was written as the book of the people) provided that we always remain the people of the book (the people who's identity and orientation are shaped by the Bible).
Join us, I'll spend the first night talking about what has happened that has shaped our relationship to scripture as it is today. The second night I want to look at at least two strategies that folks are using to challenge the form our relationship with text has taken. Those two are a return to text as story and a return to the notion of communities of interpretation. These are not the only strategies, but they open up hope for new shapes of our relationship with scripture.