In conversations with people throughout the years, I have heard people question the scriptures on many levels. Some talk about its accuracy; some quibble with its relevancy. Others like to use the argument that it was finalized by a council of the church several hundred years after its last words were written as a way to challenge its content. Cultural issues are also used as a way to undermine its authority.

These are all interesting conversations to have, and I do believe that the responsibility of all Christians is to engage critically and theologically with the text. Part of this engagement should include the history of its sources and the discernment process that led to its compilation. As necessary as these perspectives are, I do believe that many of these conversations miss one big role the text plays in our lives - that of our past.

I was reminded of this reality Monday when I received one of the best presents ever from my mother, a copy of a family history she and her sister have worked on for several months. Going through each page of the book, I saw some pictures I'd seen, read some stories with which I was familiar, and treasured the chance to see pictures and read about people that I had either forgotten or of which I had never heard. Through pictures and stories, I caught a better overall picture of why I am who I am.

When someone asks me to briefly summarize the Bible, one of the first things I mention is that the text, from beginning to end, tells the story of the people of God from creation through its earliest days as a church, as well as foreshadowing how the story will end. As we explore those who went before us, we see how we have developed as a people and how God has interacted with us in good times and bad, through our obedience and disobedience.

Of course, there are many, many millions of words written about the sacred texts of the scriptures. In no way is this article meant to be a complete or comprehensive summary of everything about the Bible. However, in our quest to ask so many questions about the scriptures and the many different lenses through which we can read and hear these words, I invite you to include among your perspectives the view that these stories allow us to explore our Christian family history.

Just as I learned about people and stories from the past that influenced who I am now through the family history I got in the mail, people and stories that helped me understand more not only about myself and my family, so, too, do we gain insight into our Christian family and our Christian identity through exploring the Bible.

I can confidently say that when we look at the Bible through the lens of our family history, you more than likely will be surprised at how much you will learn not only about God, but also yourself as you see the depths of God's love exhibited to those whom God created, forgave, redeemed, and continue to sustain, and how similar some of those stories and some of those people are to your own journey and the shared story of the contemporary church.

Grace and Peace, Lamar

P.S. The picture above is one of my favorites from my childhood - a picture of my maternal grandfather, Harry, who made the trip to Lake Charles from Tucson shortly after my birth. While I have no memory of this visit, obviously, through the sharing of the story of that trip from my family members, the story of that visit has become part of my story.