Drive-thru Readings

We love quick interpretations and applications for our life when we read the Bible. The slow process of reading and surveying the whole book, seeking to learn about the ancient context, putting the text we are reading in light of the whole biblical narrative, and reading everything in light of and through the context of Jesus’ life… well all that just seems to take too long. We want a microwaved instant reading. We want to get our truth and relevance for our problem quick and fast. We don’t want to commit to a lifestyle of study and meditation. We want to pull up make our order, and get our product and drive off. How might our instant and immediate driven culture affect how we read the Bible? Maybe John Legend is right, “maybe we should take it slow”? 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.

5 thoughts on “Drive-thru Readings

  1. Drew,

    A couple of weeks ago, I was diagnosed by the doc to avoid all fast food.
    Since I can’t not have fast food, I have been dreaming lately to be able to say these words. “Can I get a number 1, could you make that a large with sweet tea please!” Today, I read this blog that has a wonderful illustration that hit my soul.

    Check out my reflections on how my wife and I consume our earthly food. (sometimes)

    My wife and I love to talk about food.
    Take out the newspaper
    Scan for the grocery store sales
    Cut the coupons
    Decide on the day we go grocery shopping
    Go to the grocery store.
    Bring our own bags to do our part to help the environment.
    Go aisle by aisle to search all the different variety of foods we want.
    Read the labels to see what is in the foods.
    Go to the cashier and pay the money.
    Double check the receipt.
    Take the food home and put it away.
    Talk about what we are going to have.
    Take out the food.
    Prepare the food
    Cook the food.
    Set the table
    Then finally we EAT!!!!

    I wrote that because it humbled me. When reading THE Word, our spiritual food, I don’t even put 1/100 of the effort that I put into one meal.
    I want to read THE Word the same way I want to eat that fast food. Just tell them what you want, pay the money and you got what you need. (Unless, there was no fork or napkins in the bag.)

    When reading THE word, we want to immerse our selves in it just like when we go to the store and cook our own food. It tells us about hope, love, joy and inheritance that could be found in Jesus. It also gives a kingdom frame of mind while we live here on earth. These truths need to be learned with fellow believers around the dinner table eating a slow cooked meal and be learned reading THE Word. These truths are learned by studying THE entire Word. Aren’t we blessed in this country to have so many resources to help us understand the Word. I don’t think I take advantage of this awesome blessing we have here in America.

    This blog encouraged me to read THE Word day by day in a whole new way.
    It’s our daily organic grassroots freestyle bread and I’m loving it.

    But the great thing about our God, even when we there are times we need to go through the drive thru, He hooks us up His way.

    Glory to God in the Highest!


  2. Praise God…
    You got the point exactly… and your list of things to do before you can eat a cooked meal only further illustrate the slow and full process that we should take when studying the word. I hope people understand that when I talk about “freestyle theology”, it is not about merely quick theology. But rather, freestyle theology is all about thorough preparation and heavy study and meditation. And you do all that, so when you actually are in situations and contexts where the truths of the gospel need to be applied, you can then freestyle from the depths of all that study, rather than flipping your bible open and pointing to any random verse, and thinking this enough to get you by. Thanks for sharing, I am hoping this was beneficial to others as well.

    Peace and Grace

  3. Good stuff, Drew and Tim. I fear many American Christians have been heavily influenced by our culture…which worships fast and efficient solutions to even the most basic of human necessities like food AND spirituality. One of my colleagues once said, “It isn’t important how many books you have read. What’s important is how many books you have re-read.” This is especially true of scripture. Even after decades of reading and re-reading the Gospels of Mark and John I am amazed at what I see when I “re-read” them again for the first time. For me, I can’t understand how people fail to see God at work in fresh and new ways in the “old book” when we are determined to slow down and look carefully and prayerfully. But that’s just me.

  4. The other day, I had a good discussion with fellow believers. We talked around the discussion of 2nd readings. Especially the Old Testament. This isn’t exactly what you are saying Jay (although I agree with what you said as well). But we talked about the need to read through the ancient texts a first time and then again a second time. The second time so that the significant events and moments of Jesus’ life can fill in and bring to life those texts in fresh ways. If Romans 10:4, Hebrews 10:1, and other texts like it are correct… then life of Jesus is forshadowed in the Old Testament, and much more the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus. Sometimes we don’t take the slow and concentrated time to “unveil” the law of Moses, with a deeper spiritual insight revealed in Christ Jesus. This is not to say we ought to skip the context and clear implications the passage itself is teaching… but rather take those biblical principles learned and ask how this points forward to Jesus Christ through his incarnation, life and teachings, death, resurrection, and current reign over all things. That second more thought provoking and Christ centered reading is often lacking in our lives, and my conviction is that it is there (in Christ) that we find transformation.

  5. This was a brilliant description of why we don’t read and adequately study the Bible. Most things in our society is fast and quick. Most of us have yet to break or divide up our daily schedule to add what we must give to our Holy Father.

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