“The Bible is the foundation” is the first core value that guides our work at Spirit & Truth Publishing. But the Bible—and people’s views on it—is also complicated.
Why We’re Here
At Spirit & Truth Publishing, our purpose is to provide easy-to-use, theologically sound, and effective resources that help you do the faith formation ministry God has called you to do, whether as an occasional volunteer to a full-time church professional. And we seek to provide these resources to as broad an audience as is reasonable.
But what does it mean to be “theologically sound,” especially when we are trying to serve a wide audience? We go about this by avoiding some of the more theologically heavy subjects and focusing on our essential values:
- The Bible Is the Foundation
- Love Is Supreme
- Inclusivity Is the Goal
These three overlapping values are the topics of this new series of blog posts. So read on to get to know us a little better!
The Bible Is… Foundational (but Complicated)
It’s not surprising that a publishing company that creates faith formation/Christian education resources would put the Bible as foundational to our work. It would be surprising if we didn’t. The vast majority of our products are all about teaching the Bible (our first product Spirit & Truth: Teaching Kids the Heart of Worship focuses on the meaning of the liturgy and church year, which is grounded in the Bible, but it isn’t based on the Bible).
The Bible, in its Old (Hebrew) and New Testaments, is the source text for Christianity in all our faith traditions’ variety. But this also means that there are a lot of (theological) perspectives on what the Bible means and how to interpret it. The phrase “Bible-based” could have so varied a meaning that it’s no longer useful.
The Bible Is… a Library Grounded in Context
When we teach about what the Bible is (like in our Learning Together: Bible 101 curriculum), the first point we make is that the Bible isn’t really one book, it’s a library of 66 books. These books have been written by people in different places, at different times, to different audiences, and for different reasons. And to understand it to the best of our abilities, we need to learn as much as we can about these contexts.
This is easiest to see in Paul’s letters in the New Testament. Usually, Paul wrote to a specific group (like the members of the church in Corinth) and addressed specific issues, many of which are quite foreign to us (eating meat sacrificed to idols is not an issue most of us deal with).
The Bible Is… Inspired and Interpreted (Fallibly)
So, the Bible is a set of writings by humans and for humans. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the same as any other set of writings. We confess that the biblical writings are inspired by God. They are special, and God the Holy Spirit was involved in their writing and in our reading of them. What exactly does this mean? This is one of the places where we step back in our materials and let the pastors and teachers in individual churches explain according to their own theological traditions.
One thing that we do teach is that it is impossible to approach a biblical passage (or anything) without any sort of bias or interpretation. We cannot, as a friend of mine once claimed “I don’t interpret the Bible. I just read it.” Our understanding of language, culture, life experience, theology (understanding of God), and many other things affect how we understand any particular Bible passage. Someone who has no idea what a Samaritan is won’t understand Jesus’ parable the same way as someone who does. And someone who doesn’t have enough food will interpret “daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer differently than someone who has always had an abundance of food.
The Bible Is… a Vehicle
At the end of the day, the Bible is one of the primary ways that we learn about and get to know God. The Bible itself isn’t the point, it is the God whose love knows no bounds, whose love led God to become human, walk among us, die, and rise again.
It is God’s love that I will reflect on in my next blog post, the second of our core values.
Peace and blessings,
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
Order Faith Formation Resources
Looking for a resource for VBS, summer education, or events? Check out our Learning Together series! These five-lesson units are available on six different topics, one of which is FREE! The other five are much more affordable than standard VBS curricula with pricing starting at $25 for a program with 1-10 participants. Perfect for children’s and intergenerational ministries.
Are you looking for resources for the 2023-2024 program year? Order resources now for the Narrative Lectionary, Revised Common Lectionary, and even a new Classroom curriculum for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th (check our blog post for a special discount)!
At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we might just have exactly what you are looking for:
- Resource for the Revised Common Lectionary (2023-2024) (intergenerational classroom)
- Resources for the Narrative Lectionary (2023-2024) (products for all ages)
- Classic Sunday School Curriculum (key Bible stories for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th)
- Learning Together: Five-lesson topical units for VBS, Sunday school, children, and intergenerational classes.
- Cross+Generational Confirmation
- Worship and Liturgy Education