Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a chapel service at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, one of two graduate schools owned and operated by Mennonite Church USA. For this service, six individuals stood up to read a scripture passage that had been formative in their life, and to offer a short 2-3 sentence reflection on why this text was important to them. There were some lovely, poignant reflections, and after each speaker, we in the congregation would respond by singing the stanza, “The word of God is solid ground, our constant firm confession.”
At the end of this service, prior to the benediction, the worship leader asked us to take some time to meditate on our own formative scriptures and to share them with the person sitting next to us. This question stopped me in my tracks. A few scattered verses ran through my head, but I couldn’t help but feel ambivalent about sharing any of them.
You see, I’m ambivalent about scripture. I know this is nothing new, and it’s an anxiety that many people share, but it’s something I usually stay quiet about. Indeed, as a good Anabaptist Mennonite, shouldn’t I really love the Bible and see it as a keystone text?
Indeed, the recent Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective says, in the article on scripture, “We believe that all Scripture is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit for instruction in salvation and training in righteousness. We accept the Scriptures as the Word of God and as the fully reliable and trustworthy standard for Christian faith and life…We acknowledge the Scripture as the authoritative source and standard for preaching and teaching about faith and life, for distinguishing truth from error, for discerning between good and evil, and for guiding prayer and worship.” And this is not a new belief. From its founding in the 16th century, Anabaptist confessions like the Schleitheim Brotherly Union statement in 1527 and the Dordrecht Confession in 1632 use effusive scripture quotations to undergird their statements and actions. Taking scripture seriously is part of the legacy that I’ve inherited.