Today, the questions of diversity, cross-cultural understanding, cross-racial tensions and so on may feel more important—and more fraught—than ever. But these aren’t new questions at all! Scripture offers us a multitude of teachings and stories that provide us with insight and lessons to learn from in order to learn from one another and as we strive toward unity, reconciliation and peace.
In the creation of Bible Journey, more so than most other evangelical Bible programs, we’ve intentionally taken diversity into account in the study of the Bible, its application and in the team created to build Bible Journey from the beginning. Let’s take a look at how diversity plays a role in deepening our study of the Scriptures and how Bible Journey draws on a diverse community of leaders and believers to enrich your faith.
How Diversity Was Planned into Bible Journey
From the beginning, the goal of Bible Journey was to get intensive, theologically-rich and deep Bible courses and curriculum into the hands (or onto the laptops) of students around the world, from various walks of life, to develop disciples who could understand, interpret and teach the Bible.
Since we knew that our curriculum would be used by diverse students, and because we believe there is so much to learn from a variety of perspectives, diversity was built into Bible Journey from the beginning. Through Bible Journey, you’ll learn from Tim and Nicole in the Bible Journey videos and lectures. But you’ll also learn from first-class scholars and major missional leaders and hear over a hundred interviews with 50+ specialists and leaders. These include evangelicals as well as Catholics, Orthodox Christians, agnostic or even Moslem leaders and specialists.
In addition, Bible Journey’s development team was carefully recruited to include both men and women, with a variety of ages, races, ethic backgrounds and so on. We intentionally created a diverse team so we could enjoy the wisdom and richness of different ideas and viewpoints. As humans, our natural desire is to justify our own beliefs and gather around us like-minded neighbors and friends to confirm our own perspectives. A diverse Bible study group helps us overcome this natural inclination by helping us hear from and consider other viewpoints.
Why Diversity Matters So Much in Bible Journey
Bible Journey provides a seat at the table for all types of Christians by purposefully planning diversity into the team, the curriculum and the learning environment from the beginning.
Not only does a diverse community deepen our learning experiences, but a diverse community gives us a stronger foothold from which to discuss contemporary issues as well. In the Bible we find a source and reference for discipleship, but we also find a reference to address contemporary issues.
Bible Journey walks you through many of these sections of the Bible during your studies. We’ll study how the Church often misinterpreted the curse of Ham to justify slavery and see what we can learn from the racial prejudice that Abraham and Moses dealt with. And of course, Jesus’ ministry was to both the Jews and the Gentiles—at the time, this was a major point of tension in the apostolic church. There’s much to be learned and applied to our current events in studying this tension and how the early apostles handled this division.
A Picture of Diversity within Bible Journey’s Curriculum
Diversity and cross-cultural discussion and teachings is woven throughout the curriculum, both explicitly and implicitly. There are times when the text of the Scriptures draws our attention to cross-cultural or cross-racial discussions and where we must consider the implications of these texts for our own time. There are other times where cross-cultural or cross-racial perspectives are highlighted simply because there is so much we can learn when a diversity of voices are shared!
The Bible Journey lessons on Joseph provide a great example of the kinds of diversity and cross-cultural perspective you’ll encounter in our courses. First, we’ll take you Behind the Text with a Muslim Egyptologist who will show you the land of Joseph where his storehouses were possibly built. Then, in the In Front of the Text section, we’ll meet with two African leaders—both in very different ministries!—who point to Joseph as their role model for ministry.
One of these leaders is the president of the Protestant Church in Egypt and shares how Joseph’s story helped him navigate the Arab Spring. The other leads a post-genocide reconciliation ministry in sub-Saharan Africa and will share how lessons from Joseph’s story helped him in his ministry working to reconcile with kinfolk who tried to kill him! Finally, we’ll see how Joseph has shown up in drama and films throughout Western culture and end with an article demonstrating how Joseph can be a role model for avoiding temptation.
Clearly, there’s a lot of richness and depth we can uncover just in the story of Joseph when we consider it from a variety of perspectives. Now imagine how much richer the entire Bible becomes when you have the opportunity to discover both familiar and unfamiliar Scriptural texts from such a wealth of diversity! In Bible Journey, you’ll learn about celebrating the Sabbath by a group of Messianic believers, study reconciliation with Arab Christians, hear about miracles occurring today in the Middle East from an Iranian pastor, and so much more.
A Picture of Diversity for the Church
When we think about the Church and Scriptural interpretation, faith and belief, there is obviously a spectrum of difference—diversity isn’t limited to simply racial or ethnic diversity. Bible Journey serves anyone who wants a biblical education that engages the Bible with the global church and listens respectfully to those we may disagree with.
We value—and are known for—an “irenic” orthodoxy, one that holds an attitude of humility in Scriptural interpretation while holding unswervingly to the authority of Scripture and the unique identity and role of Christ for salvation. Our evangelism is one that listens to and engages with people on both sides of the spectrum or at various points in their faith journey, while still believing and upholding a high view of the authority of Scripture.
It’s as if the global Church was sitting around a table with the Bible in the center. Everyone has a seat at the table, and we approach the conversation with humility in light of our inevitable blind spots, grateful for the wisdom diverse backgrounds and ideas can bring to the conversation. In the conversation, no one has exclusive rights to the interpretation of the Scriptures, but no one can take the Scriptures off of the table either.
These questions and issues are as important today as ever—are you ready to join us in discussion and study of the Scriptures? We have a seat at the table for you. Sign up for an Annual or Monthly Pass with Bible Journey and start your free trial today to join a diverse and ongoing conversation.