This pamphlet in our 'Thinking Biblically About...' series grapples with the question that every Christian who takes the Bible seriously will ask at some point: 'How can a book written 3,000 years ago, in the context of an agrarian economy in the ancient Near East, be relevant to our lives in the 21st century?' Believers may be ready to apply the moral and spiritual principles on a personal level, but what about the world we live in, and issues affecting wider society? What does God have to say about them?
In this brief pamphlet of 2,000 words, we try to summarise some of the key principles for biblical interpretation which we have been learning in the Jubilee Centre over the last 30 years.
We all look at the world through different 'lenses'; in Western societies we tend to see everything through an individualistic lens ('It's all about me!') or a financial lens ('What are the costs and benefits to me?') In other parts of the world it may be a collective lens which is most important.
The Bible, however, reflects a different worldview; it tends to see everything through the lens of relationships. This is not just saying that relationships are important, and are a major category of issues alongside environmental, economic and political ones.
Instead, it says that everything is ultimately relational. We know this because Jesus said that every part of the law and the prophets - the Old Testament narrative of the Jewish people, their law and the nation they built around it - is about love. Love for God or love for other people.
This pamphlet introduces the Bible's relational worldview, and shows how it provides the key for us to translate the biblical social vision into the 21st century - where despite the passage of time, history and geography, human relationships are essentially the same as they were when the Bible was written.
In addition to TBA: Everything, you may like to read our Cambridge Paper entitled 'Relationism: pursuing a biblical vision for society' by Michael Schluter. The Jubilee Centre has been instrumental in launching several other organisations and charities which are applying this relational vision to different aspects of public life; read more on our history page.