Brent Strawn - "The Old Testament is Dying"
4:26PM Jun 30, 2020
common english bible
Today, we are delighted to be speaking with Dr. Brent Strawn. Dr. Strawn is a professor of Old Testament at the Candler School of Theology Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He earned his doctorate in Old Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary and currently serves as an academic editor and translator on the editorial board of the common English Bible. In addition, Dr. Strawn has edited and contributed to several volumes, including his role as editor in chief in the award winning Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible. He is author of five books, including our text today, The Old Testament is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment. Brent, thanks for joining us today. Thanks for having me, Brian. It's great to be here. So, you go to pains in the book to talk about the public opinion of the Bible and how biblical knowledge is kind of on the outs. And you also, you also speak about use of certain use of the Old Testament and sermons and the common lectionary and you spend a good portion. And a lot of research went into the book. So if I could ask you to take a moment and explain what prompted you to write this book and why you felt it was important to write it?
Yes, so a couple things really. One is, I think, thinking about my classroom and what I was doing in the classroom, and particularly in this intro to Old Testament class that we teach here at Emory a year long introductory course for first year students thinking through my my task in that course. While I was driving in on my commute, listening to this wonderful course on linguistics by john McWhorter, who's a fantastic teacher and lecturer and and that's saying a lot of courses is on linguistics but really engaging funny guy and everything and it suddenly clicked in my mind that that what McWhorter was discussing about in terms of language, language development, language acquisition, language, growth, contact, even decline and death, there was something fundamentally similar in that to what I was doing in the classroom, and suddenly I realized, maybe what I was teaching was a language, not the language of Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic or something, you know that, but the language of Scripture, and that that should affect how I taught and that maybe then I would need to think more in terms of language acquisition and and learning from linguistics, how people learn languages, especially adults, and also then it suddenly clicked in my Mind that maybe the language I was teaching was in declining, endangered and maybe even potentially, in in threat of dying, which then sort of up to the ante significantly, so that that was probably the primary connection in terms of kind of a theory or or germ of the idea of the book in terms of language lifecycle in the Old Testament, but another factor was really my experience teaching in local churches, where I just found more and more and more evidence that fewer and fewer and fewer Christians really knew pretty much anything about the Bible, and that the ones who were frequently my classes tended to be quite old. And that was a sign I think according to linguistic study that a language is definitely a threatened and endangered and and maybe soon extinct if only the older folks speak it. And if only the older spoke, speak it and they can't speak it very well. Then you've got The real problem is,
and you talk about this more affinity or death of the Old Testament in the first portion of the book, the first three chapters. And so as you were researching that, was there anything that surprised you? Was there anything that obviously disappointed you or anything that gave you hope? That the ultimate conclusion, we can resurrect this dead language or dying?
Yeah, the research in the first three chapters in in the six of the second three where I talked about other signs of morbidity in outside the walls of the church. These were disappointing, and I guess I expected them outside the walls of the church. And of course, I was familiar or had a sense of the problem inside the walls of the church as well, but it was it was disappointing, and I realized that the case was pretty bad and also that I needed to make the case as strongly as possible because Christians still Give a lot of lip service to Scripture and they don't want anyone to tell them that the Bible's in danger or threatened that that, of course, No, that can't be true. But this is, I think, just sort of, at least semi empirically true, right. My chapters are, in some ways anecdotal, but some way semi empirical. And, obviously, I couldn't survey the the millions of Christians in the States, let alone the billions across the across the world. But I did think that the data was suggested that the decline was at least in certain pockets of North American Christianity. And that's what I'm looking at certain pockets in North America, that the decline was actually quite significant, that the patient was very, very sick, and more than that was really was really dying. So the book was really kind of emerges out of my deep sadness about that situation and not just not just the death of the Old Testament because as I say, in the book, as you know, the only testament dies, the New Testament is not far behind, in my concern ultimately is with the with the life of Christian scripture. And so it was very It is a very sad to me book and yet also I think, hopefully, hopefully hopeful a couple of people have written me about the book or friends have said, You know, I found the book deeply sad name and also hopeful at the same time and I think probably that was what I was hoping would would would be communicated in the book.
And you talk about that death of the whole, the whole Bible as a consequence of the death of the Old Testament, and particularly in reference to kind of the attacks of the new atheism. So
would you say that the
the extreme misunderstanding of the Old Testament in the new atheists And the effectiveness of their critique is directly tied to the lack of biblical knowledge among not only non Christians but the church.
Yeah, definitely. So definitely So, you know, the currency in the contemporary culture is very much technological, medical, scientific. That's, that's, that's, that's where life matters. You know, in my university research one university, the majority of effort, energy and funding is not in the humanities and certainly not in divinity. But it's in the medical school, and it's in the biological sciences and so on and so forth. So we're we're striving hard to live live longer lives and healthier lives. While the humanities and other such things suffer decline in our country and in higher ed, so that I worry will never live longer lives, but we really won't know what to do with them. Get our cell phones, you know, and and find some new apps, you know. But it is the case, therefore that, that with the decline of scriptural knowledge and the increase of these other sorts of discourses, there's a real problem if we can somehow bridge the discourses, bring them together or make them talk. And so without a robust knowledge of Scripture, for instance, someone who is who is adept in the language of technology and science and so on and so forth, who dislikes the language of theology or whatever, you can easily sort of win in that kind of discussion. And not only when in the general culture that may be increasingly secularized, but also when with Christians who don't know their scriptures, so the nine morbidity that are so poignant and powerful, I mean, the new atheist people like Richard Dawkins, they're immensely influential and they're brilliant people. I mean, there's no doubt about it. They're brilliant. People, they can convince you just with their brilliance. And if you throw in some British accent on top, I mean, it's a done deal, you know. But the hopeful part about these signs of morbidity is that if you know the full language of Scripture, you can actually begin to redress those wrongs. So for instance, you know, the the big debate, especially for so many Christians are a struggle for so many Christians, even faithful ones, let alone ones they're sort of nominal or worried about this is on things like science, scripture, evolution, etc. And to me, in my mind, so much of that is sort of misconstrued not only by someone like Dawkins, who really doesn't understand a robust doctrine of creation, but also by a lot of Christians who think the only thing the Bible says about creation is in Genesis one. And I have to believe that in some sort of literal way, whatever that word means, and they don't have even the foggiest even though they do follow his idea that john chapter one says Something at least somewhat different than Genesis one. And then we're about proverbs a, or about Psalm 74. Or what about job 38, or Psalm 104, or Colossians? One, all these texts and others speak about creation, they don't all agree Exactly, and all the details and they certainly don't all just recapitulate Genesis one. In other words, even the Bible is thinking about creation in kind of a flexible way that Christians should be able to think about creation flexibly as well, without, without waffling in the least on the fundamental, the consistent thing across all those texts, which is that God
created heaven and earth,
you know, me. So, so many people get tripped up and leave their faith because of Genesis one. It's like, Hey, you know what, keep reading. I mean, the Bible is worth one text in it. I mean, you know, lots of people only read the first chapter of a book, but that doesn't mean it's the only chapter in the book. So it's again Knowing that no having a robust understanding of the language of Scripture, the whole kind of text, you know, really allows you to navigate problems that in the end of the day, I mean, with all due respect to Dawkins seemed to me simplistic, you know, and easily dealt with. I mean, easily dealt with. If someone's major beef with with Christianity and scriptures evolution, I mean, give me a break, that's really Child's Play, we can handle that we can.
And you you talk about that a bit. The lack of fluency linguistically, if we might say, and you talk about this idea of Marcy and I, it's old and new. If you could explain for our listeners what Mars what, who Marcin was what Marcy and I ism is, in then in addition to that, would you would you say it's fair to, to say that much of the contemporary churches involved in this kind of clause is Marcy and I practice and where do you see it being unintentional and where is it intentional?
Yeah, great question. I where she was this was evidently the son of a bishop. You know how it goes with pastor's kids and all that. He died around around 160 ad, but was a evidently wealthy ship owner and he went to Rome and he was a very devout Christian in his in his way, and had some questions, some theological perspectives, and he was summoned before the church at Rome to explain himself about these. And when he did, they decided to excommunicate him as as a heretic. His his ideas were basically that the Old Testament and New Testament presented an irreconcilable perspective on God. His primary work was known as the antithesis where he listed one some texts from the Old Testament and then its antithesis in the New Testament and Jesus sort of laid these out and you draw your own conclusions. But the conclusions clearly that these things don't go together. And the Old Testament stuff is bad. The New Testament stuff is good. So that the Old Testament, God who he thought was real, by the way, just wasn't there with the true God. It was a real god that was like a junior God kind of into Moodle was kind of bad. And so that material, the Old Testament and the Old Testament God needed to be dispensed with, and then out of the blue. In Luke chapter four, Jesus just dropped out of heaven, and just showed up in the synagogue and Capernaum and started preaching, and that Jesus was to reveal the true the true God, the alien God, who no one had known or experienced prior to Jesus. So he had his antithesis, and he had his gospel. It's what he called it. His gospel, though, was and this is a perfect example of the Old Testament, dying New Testament dying with it. This is gospel was only one gospel, not all four, gospel blue. And even that part of even lukey couldn't get in on a bridge. There was too much and loop it was was tied in separately to the Old Testament, for instance, in infancy narratives in the first several chapters, those had to go because those look exactly like the old patriarchs and matriarchs of the Bible, don't they? bury them instead of giving children and then there's a you know simians, the nunc Dimittis, now you have set your servant free to depart before my eyes have seen the Savior whom you prepared for the whole world to see the light of the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel, right. I mean, there's just no way Marcin handle that. So that's got to go. And you start in for chapter four, Jesus dropping down out of nowhere, you know, like an alien himself. So he has to take all that out. And in parts of the Pauline corpus he can't deal with to some of the letters have to go. So he has basically a severely restricted corpus of the New Testament part of the New Testament. That's his gospel. But he was very effective preacher. And the way his his theology worked, he was very ascetic, they they did not encourage reproduction among their followers. So that meant the only way for the Marcin church to grow was to steal from other other flocks, other Christian communities, really. And they did that and they were very effective. And Marcy night churches lasted for hundreds of years. And your question is really getting at the fact that Marcy Ann's ghost still lives all over the place and he probably inhabits most churches in one way or the other. And, and it's and it's felt, anytime someone says, well that gone in the Old Testament seems so mean, but God in the New Testament seems so nice. Or Jesus is really about mercy and love God is like about wrath and judgment. And when these things are polarize, separated, bifurcated, and then they're also localized in their respective testaments or with their respective member of the Trinity This is really Marsden's head being weird. And it's, it's a lot of times I think it is naive, and therefore ignorant. It doesn't make it good. You know, it's definitely not benevolent, but it's but it's just ignorant. And then other times I think it's quite, quite significantly maybe intentional and therefore malevolent but I want to give the benefit of the doubt. So most people who are functional Mars unites Don't, don't mean to be ill they're just falling into the into that trap that that Marcin fell into,
into so one group you talked about.
you devote a whole chapter to in the contemporary church is what you call these Happy ologists which is for the audience, the prosperity gospel, preachers of the prosperity gospel in different ways, and you utilize this linguistic analogy To talk about how they speak, a expanded pigeon or maybe a creo. And so, if you could take a moment to explain a little bit what you mean by that and explain how that plays itself out. And then also alternatively, do you see places where the Old Testament is being spoken out correctly?
Yeah, so just super briefly languages change all the time. diachronic Lee just through use, that's partly why we have new translations all the time. Why? Why I joined the common English Bible editorial board, I mean, why why do we need another one which changes we use contractions we know etc, etc. The common English Bible for instance, is the first English translation to ever use contractions. Even God uses contractions in the Hebrew but in the in the in the common English Bible, you know.
God's getting a little more informal, like Time,
that's right over time. But one of the ways languages change is through contact with other languages. It gives rise to things like loan words or loan phrases like we will be talking in English and we'll say, Man, what a day, right? But hey, say Let it be, right. French loan word that's that's like, you know, and it's it's French, but it's now in English and English speakers understand it. So language contact can often lead to, especially between two unequal groups can can produce the need to communicate and one of the results of that is a piece called a Pidgin language. That's a really reduced language that allows for the bare, you know, aspects of communication to exist between two groups. But there it's neither of the languages proper. The parents as it were, and the parents contribute unequaled DNA, the parent who is most powerful, that who conquered the world group or who controls the the primary aspects of the trade agreement, or who's enslaved the other group, they contribute most of the lexical stock to the language and the other one has to just a little bit. So that contribution constructs a pigeon, very reduced. lacks nuance lacks tons of verb forms likes tons of vocabulary, you just, it's just for bear communication, you just can't get work done in either of the parent languages. That's, that's done in the pigeon, just too small. And so pigeons can be spoken and then they can actually grow up if most pigeons die out, but if they grow up, they're called Creole. And Creole languages is a Pidgin language that acquired native speakers and most native speakers then because they have to go off to school and talk about algebra and then ask their you know, boyfriend out on a date or their girlfriend to prom or something. They've got to have more language than just what's with that little pigeon to start with. So Creole is essential banded pigeon that includes all kinds of new stuff that again wasn't in either of the original ones. And that new stuff is is fully regularized. So if you make up a new verb, it's a regular verb. You know, you don't make an irregular verb, those are the worst, you know, no one wants them. So, that linguistic discussion is really important because to go back to the new atheists and Marcin for a minute, what I think they represent are Pidgin languages. So, Dawkins, the new atheist, they know a bit of the Bible. Of course they do. That's because they're talking or writing chapters about it, they've read it at least once. And they've got they're making some points against it. And some of those points are not entirely wrong, they get some aspects of the Bible, right. But the Bible is this less important language to their other language, which is not just science, but logical consistency, or, or whatever it is. And that's the super straight the dominant language and it's being brought to bear on the little tiny language of Scripture. And then whatever In this this little pigeon is being produced. So Dawkins scores points but it's against a pigeon eyes version of the of the Bible, he doesn't know the whole thing. And not only that, but he's his his own kind of commitments to science and evolutionary biology or whatever are impinging upon and really reducing the Bible to what he wants to say. So he's, he's scoring some points, he gets some things right, but that's because pigeons always have some lexical stuff from the from the substring. Really, the Marcin Knights are also like Marcin, just can't handle the complexity of the Bible. So his his language of logical consistency, what goes together what what he thinks is a scientific antithetical or not, that's what drives it. And what you end up with is this pitch in this little gospel, right? So those are pigeons. But in the case of the prosperity gospel, I think, as you say, what we have is a Creel. So we've had a pigeon ization where the Bible is basically about health, wealth and prosperity. That's a great read, greatly reduced understanding of Scripture rights, whatever this big, super straight is, is probably consumeristic capitalism, upwardly mobile, middle class, American ism, American, civil religion, etc. And then there's some Bible in there too, and they come together and there's pigeon is produced that the Bible is primarily about our health, wealth and prosperity.
Which is there, it's there just like this, like some of the stuff the bad stuff that Dawkins notes is there, but it's there's more than that there right. So, yeah, sure, if the if the, if that pigeon the health, wealth prosperity, pigeon gets native speakers, then it can become expanded and become a creole, in the Creole, again, gets fully regularized. So what you find in the, in the happy ologists is not just that they're picking up on some things that are in the Bible. Of course they are, of course they are especially insofar as they want to preach scripture, but there's also this other stuff in Scripture but their new language their Creole can't possibly account for. And that's because it's already been Creole is two steps removed Pidgin and Creole two steps removed from its ancestors. And its ancestor that is scripture was only a smaller piece of the puzzle. Anyway. So when you when you read some of these folks, what you find is a phony regularized language. If you save this, if you claim this if you save this word, God has to do that. And that's that's that's a regular verb, right? That's a fully regular verb. If you do this, then God the Bible's is full of irregular verbs, though. I mean, job is the preeminent example I talked about in the book. Job does the right things and since he says the right words, and he doesn't get the deal, you know, he doesn't get the Learjet and all the rest. So there's that's that's an irregular verb that the Creole language the new happy ology Creole can account for, but it's in the Scripture, right. So that's just shows that the Creole language is is several steps removed at least two steps removed from the from the original. And I think it's therefore more problematic than Happy ologists even though they're Christians, and they're trying, they are actually more of a potential damage to the language of Scripture than Dawkins and Marcy and our family just want to leave that out there. That bit even though they're preachers, they're actually more of a damage than been been the than the others. So. So I think that's really a what a fascinating aspect to me in my learning about the book that came out the Creole ization as a particularly problematic aspect of prosperity gospel preachers and also just the problem that poses for for a proper acquisition and resurrection of the language of Scripture. As far as who speaks it, well, you know, I think it might be easy on the one hand to be cynical About the city Oh, no one speaks it well, or to be nostalgic about it, ah, the apostles, the early church fathers and mothers, they spoke it fluently. And I think it's probably clear that in many cases, the last the last bit at least it's true that that people like a guest in Jerome and Gregory of Nyssa or whomever like that, they, they were they were sort of living libraries, you know, walking concordances I mean, the the kind of dexterity and fluency that they manifest in the Bible is just stunning. Tolkien wrote five books against Marcin and just, you know, destroys Marcin theology. And it's because Tertullian knows the Bible, you know, fantastically times better than Marcin does, and Marcin was no slouch, right. So there I think there is a temptation, even in my thinking to the stout, you know, just been a static about those those old time, folks. Even I bet I bet I think there's some truth and a half. But I also think there's truth in the fact that there are saints even to this day, right? Who knows? I'm sure well, who thinks through Scripture, who's whose language is sort of peppered with Scripture? And whose first thought when when they encounter an issue, even an issue, a difficult issue of public policy?
Is not? What did I hear about it on CNN or Fox News or on you know, good morning, America. But, man, I wonder, wonder how that intersects with the book of Ruth. Or that reminds me of the parable of the unjust judge, or, you know, I mean, that's the kind of fluency that I'm hoping for. And that kind of fluency, I think, is a lifetime project. So I do think there are definitely praise God pockets, not only individuals but of churches who are really trying to give great attention to scripture in its fullest, most robust vision And those are signs of life. Those are signs that the Old Testament is not dying. And but it's surviving. And that's so important because the one thing a language needs to survive is speakers, a large group of people who practice speaking in all the time. So surviving a language to sort of survive in a book form is a whole different scenario. You know, Latin for instance, though, my kids took Latin in public school, and the Latin teachers always tell them. Oh, Latins, not a dead language. Oh, yes, it is. It's a dead language. You know what I mean? Just because you're teaching it doesn't make it alive, right? That's great. That's great. I love it. I teach biblical Hebrew right or, or koine, Greek, but those languages are living languages anymore. those are those are preserved languages, a real language to survive to be living language. You'd have to have a bunch of people who speak Latin every day. Two, go down to Kroger and order their groceries in Latin or call it DirecTV and they Press three for Latin, you know, for the for the customer service, that's a living language. And so churches that that actually are trying and practicing language of Scripture, those are communities where the language of Scripture will survive, especially if they have people who are young, and who are children are who are bearing children in their teaching, they're learning that language of faith to their children, those places are going to survive in the language of Scripture will survive there. So I do think there's pockets like that, thank god and, and always, for more. So you know if you know so let me know.
in you, you touched on it a bit there with the ending talking about the fluency with biblical language and kind of how that would look. And in the last chapter, you give a few recommendations for how to revive the stet language and how we because I believe that everyone in the church would like to be can be fluent speakers. of the Bible and the Old Testament specifically, which is where a lot of people struggle. So if you could just give a few practical ways that churches and individuals can begin speaking again, the language of the Old Testament.
Yeah, yeah. Well, first just a footnote to that question because I think it's important to point out you're right that people feel the struggle acutely with the Old Testament. And I'm not completely sure why that is. I mean, I, I have of course when ideas about it, but at least in part, people feel for whatever reason, they're closer to the New Testament. Of course, they're really not right. I mean, in terms of chronological distance, 2000 years versus 2500 years what we want to do, but for some reason, they feel that way. Well, I think they feel that way, primarily because they heard the New Testament constantly even incessantly in church. They haven't with the Old Testament. So that's, that's a, that's a sign that the language death is, in fact facilitated or or furthered by neglect in the church. If pastors don't constantly talk about the Old Testament, as much as the New Testament, of course, people be like, what's that? That's a foreign country over there, you know, that's that feels different and distant from me. Whereas if they were constantly talking about the Old Testament, and neglecting the New Testament, in equal measure, people would feel that way about the New Testament. What's that? I don't get it. So it's always the case that the ancient languages are the hardest and most difficult to acquire, right? But they're also the most complicated languages and the Bible, both Old and New Testament is an old, ancient, complicated language. I mean, how do you hold together something like Joe with the you know, the joy of some of the songs right? The paradigmatic aspects of Paul's epistles, you know, pray without ceasing, give banks in everything, you know, well, you know, the psalmist aren't giving banks and everything. They're complaining a lot. And so his job so how do you? How do you hold those things together? Well, that's a that's a sign of a complicated language and old, complicated, lengthy hazards that were an irregular verb in here, which is sometimes you're happy and content gift banks without CC and other times you can. And that's a complicated verbal form to learn. It's like a really strange, you know, version of the verb to be with it's gets flexed in all sorts of different ways in future forms and past forms and present forms. But simple people and Creole speakers don't like that they want one to be right and the other to be wrong, you know. So ancient archaic languages are hard to learn. And the Bible is one of those.
But in terms of how then to kind of get after that, because if that's the case then language teaching language acquisition is going to be difficult. How do we how do we learn it and redress this problem? I mean, I think on the one hand, it's just, it's just not it's not brain surgery, it's really quite simple. And it exists at both the corporate and individual level. So at the corporate level, at the level of, of churches, and also I would include here, church related institutions, like seminaries that are training clergy, etc. What we need is, you know, regular and extensive exposure and use of the Old Testament in Christian in key in key moments of Christian faith and practice. So for most Christians, at least in the churches that I'm familiar with in my life, that that means in church, that means, you know, in the worship service, not only there because it's going to take more than that, but in the worship service, we have to have more sermons that are based on the Old Testament, maybe, maybe exclusively, but but at least in integrity, interrupt twined in positive ways with the New Testament, we need more hymns and songs that are based on the Old Testament. And we also need more reading from the Old Testament extensive reading, that's, that's just an hour, you know, or maybe an hour and a half, two hours if you're if you're really lengthy in your worship service. But that's not enough on its own. That's kind of nice that we're a lecture you know, it's kind of like a language teacher giving a lecture for a while. not exclusively, of course, because when the singing of the songs that there the congregation is participating, but you got to have also opportunities to practice the language. So if you're taking French you might go to class, you might hear your teacher teach you a bunch about French paradigms in the past say co Jose, you know the past tense or whatever, but then you have to go to language lab and you have to listen, you know, with your headphones on and then you have to practice saying things in class. So input and output are are both important. Singing is one way that the community of faith can can practice can sing back. Small groups are another way right where they can practice the language, mission or X, you know, working in the soup kitchen or participating in some other justice ministry or going on a mission trip or Habitat for Humanity. These are other ways we practice the language of faith with our bodies. But that that would say the kind of that's the corporate thing, intentional and extensive use and exposure to the Old Testament at key formative regular moments of Christian faith and practice. The other thing is, I guess I would say is, there's more to say about that. But that's the that's the most important, I think, at the corporate level, at the individual level. It's just the case that you're not going to learn a language if you're not constantly immersed in it. And so, it's just kind of again, simple stuff that they taught me when I was a little kid in Sunday school that you got to read your Bible every day.
You got to read your Bible every day. And you know something days, it's gonna be totally profound and other days, it's going to be totally perfunctory. You know, that's just the way it is because that's the way it works with language. Sometimes with language, you're just, you know, you're going to Kroger and you're buying toilet paper. And other times in the language, you are reading Shakespeare, right? Or you're writing a poem yourself. I mean, there's different you know, sometimes you have these high moments and just regular moments, I mean, but the language has to be used, you have to steep in it, and one hour at church on Sunday, even to if you throw in a small group person, it's not enough scripture to fund a Christian life. So Christians have to be intentional, and they have to be intentional about deep long term exposure. And I think not only that, but in in the kinds of exposure they get. So for me speaking personally, several years back, I started reading the daily office and the daily offices, you know, set of prayers and songs and Old Testament gospel and epistle rains, y'all framed with with sentences from scripture confession of sin prayers. And I do my best to read the daily office every day. If you'd read the daily office every day, in a month, you go through the entire psalter every every month, you've read all hundred 50 songs. And then in two years, you've read a good bit of the Old Testament, he does not everything, even in the even in the daily office, you don't cover anything. But especially with the songs It seems to me that in my brain, I'm trying to learn the language of the songs. I'm trying to speak the songs and just trying to get it into my head. And again, some days that daily office is profoundly meaningful and other days, I'm just getting through it, you know, but it's a discipline. It's a it's a Christian discipline for me. And it's one way Christians can can try to not be the daily ops can be one year Bible or five year Bible. I mean, it's that the timeframe is not that important to do it fast. It's just different. Do it well, and regularly that that's what I would lift up on the individual level. And I guess the final thing I'd say on this, Brian is that fluency, again, is a lifetime project. So, you know, I don't claim to be fluent. I may I think there are fluent speakers out there. And
I I'm thankful for the for those, you know, 7000, who haven't yet bought out the need to buy all are good.
But, but the way towards one of the best ways towards fluency or towards greater language knowledge is to teach. You know, I mean, I took keeper in college, I didn't really learn Hebrew until I was teaching Hebrew. That's a whole new level of engagement. So people shouldn't shirk the opportunity to teach Sunday school or teach children's church or teach VBS or teach their small group, because it's going to require is going to be worth it, but it's going to require them to get into the language at a deeper level. They're going to learn stuff, they're gonna make mistakes. Sure, every language teacher does I mean every time I teach a class Ask me a question. I don't know. But then I go back and I try to figure it out. And then I try to deliver learn that better for next time. So those are those are three things that come to mind that I think are pragmatic, hopefully helpful tools towards towards fluency.
Thank you so much. I know we all desire to be fluent speakers of the Bible. And hopefully someday we all will be here at Unity last Friday, we have this emphasis on the unity of the church. So if I could post you just this final question, what would it mean for the church to be united in your opinion? And how would Christians recognize this unity? And what can we be doing as Christians to pursue the Unity for which Jesus prayed in john 17?
Yeah, well, that's great question. For me, for me, I think
was professor of course I think several things simultaneously. But, but I think,
for me as a Bible professors, so much of Christian thought centers on scripture, and so scripture is, is a central uniting element that that Christianity is a lot of things but among the things it is, it is a book religion united around this belief, this really amazing belief, that many fine to amazing to believe right that that God has spoken to us in a special way in Scripture. So scripture has to be held in high esteem not not made into an idol of course. But But respected and revered as a witness to the Triune God that we serve and love. So so I think that that attention constant attention to Scripture as this as the this vehicle and means of Revelation is so crucial. And
I The older I get I wasn't I wasn't raised in a cradle per se
I was raised in a low church tradition. But the older I get, the more I see the real richness of the early church tradition in the rule of faith, that kind of feedback loop between scripture and decreed. I think at the end of the day, the Canon and the Creed's are ways that we can we can preserve the language and make sure it doesn't drift so far that becomes an entirely new language and it stays within the language, the language tree and in and is true to the original language that doesn't get so far off that that there's a problem that can't be fixed. Robert Jensen talks about this and his book can and create any actually as a third thing that he would add in which is the Episcopal is the role of the of the teaching elder or whatnot. And that too, is I think, an important point it to me, it goes back to the language teacher. Maybe that's a clergy person. Maybe that's a patient teaching their child maybe it's a Sunday school teacher who's teaching children or adults but but that there's someone also who's doing their best to maintain fluency. So I think these things that the the leader, the canon of scripture in the Creed's these are ways that we can be united as Christians around the things that are most important that have to be preserved at all costs.
Thank you so much for that. And thank you again for joining us today. And another time the book is the Old Testament is dying, a recommended era diagnosis and recommended treatment.
Thank you for joining us and we appreciate your time.
Thanks so much, Brian is great to be with you all the best in the ministry.