Free For All, by Tim Conder & Daniel Rhodes

Free for All

This book is written by two very thoughtful, friends, Dan Rhodes and Tim Conder.  The discussion invites us to rediscover the Bible through community.   It is absolutely a brilliant and fascinating read.  The bible becomes the voice of the Living Word when considered through the myriad of different voices within our community.

Part 1 discusses the nature of interpretation.  We all come to the scriptures with biases, which is exactly why we need to read all that has been written in sacred text.    If we really want to listen to the voice of the living Christ, we need to listen to the voice of the whole canon of scripture, rather than using it merely as a buffet from which we select what we prefer and ignore the rest. A text without a context is a pretext.

Secondly, catholicity, we should value the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ – people who have put on paper their own wrestling with the Bible – valuing and learning from those who have gone before us in history and left to us the legacy of their own attempts to understand the Bible. 

Thirdly, we need to listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying through our community. We can only receive Christ as we receive him in others.  The Spirit of God is manifested differently in each individual.  Listen to what God is saying through others that could not be fully said through me?  Each of us is a unique interpretation of God.  Our individual wrestlings with scripture are an essential part in our search to know God better.

In part 2 of this book, the authors share several examples that demonstrate how a diverse group of folks handle a particular text of scripture in one sitting.  The passages selected for discussions were messy and controversial, yet the willingness of all present to respect each others interpretation and perspectives actually built up the fellowship of the church. 

This is not a book containing monotonous transcriptions of hours long discussions of a passage in scripture. Though quotes are given, this book well describes the process of community when it wrestles through a text.  Some of the passages selected include Genesis 34 on the rape of Dinah, Psalm 22 the cry of dereliction, and Romans 1.  There wasn’t any attempt to shy away from the controversial topics.

Part 3 of this book speaks to the ever-present issues of proclamation, ethics, hospitality, mission, and imagination inviting us to act on what we have discovered. 

If you have become bored with reading the Bible, the authors invite you to recover the Word in the Bible through an interpreting community.

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