Transformation Vs. Information

Have you ever ran into somebody who could quote the Bible like nobody’s business and simultaneously cut someone to pieces with their words as if they were a child of the devil? How is this so? How is it that someone can be so mean and nasty, while still having such a strong foundation in God’s Words?  Is it possible to be grounded theologically and to master the biblical text, while not bearing the likeness of Christ?

If so, maybe it has something to do with how we read our bible.  It seems very easy to read the bible only to gain knowledge and build up more information in our heads.  However, it is a completely different task to engage the bible spiritually, allowing God’s Word to shape and mold you into a new creation.  How do we read these inspired words in a way that it forms us into a people that reflect God faithfully as his children?

Is our biblical reading for transformation in our lives and communities or is it just more information that we can wield and use to impress others?  Are we allowing God’s word to master us, letting it rearrange our lives to be in line with Him, or do we try to master God’s Word so that we can use it for our purpose and for our own agenda? Freestyle with me…

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

7 thoughts on “Transformation Vs. Information

  1. Thank you for this post. Honestly I have read a few of your blogs, but only skimmed through them. I was catching up on my blogs this morning and this one really hit me. Lately I have been struggling understanding so many things regarding my faith and growing spiritually. This has made me think about several things. Thank you again.

  2. Humbly,
    No Problem. Thanks for periodically stopping by and especially for sharing how this impacted you. It’s not strange to struggle, in fact its normal. That’s why its a journey. The problem usually comes when we think about spirituality as a science and apply “formula’s” to it, rather than a relational journey with the God of the universe. Hope we can continue the dialogue, take care!

  3. Just in my walk I have come to realize that I have been in the past the person who was judgemental and not understanding of other people in their struggles. I will seek knowledge without wisdom or understanding. I am still on this journey. In some ways I think I am just starting the journey.

  4. I think you missed one other reason…at least my reason… for literally hungering for the Word each day. I miss my Father’s closeness during the day. I miss feeling intimate with Him, just Him. I need to get away from the busyness of life and hear what He has to say to me. I need to sit on His lap and enjoy His presence. It is a need both physical and psychological. Perhaps some of that is from not having a father I could run to growing up. Perhaps that is where my life is at now. Perhaps is a blessed hunger that God has put in my heart because he desires me as much or more than I desire Him. Perhaps it is because He wanted me to share with those who read your blog that He hungers for that kind of love relationship with each of them as well. Perhaps it is for all these reasons since God never does anything just for one purpose……How great is our God….

  5. Drew,
    I received The Gorgeous Blogger Award today, and would hereby like to present the GBA to you, one of the writers who most inpires me on the Internet. You are not only a gorgeous blogger, you are a thoughtful, sincere, loving man. Please come by my blog to copy the award, so you can post it here and let everyone know you’re A GB!
    Pam

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