In early January, Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden made a controversial
proclamation during a city council meeting, that 2014 would be the “Year of the Bible.” Coming from a political figure, this statement caused an uproar not only locally, but also nationally.
With Hayden’s statement, though, comes reflection. Since the start of 2014, The Dallas Morning News has already posted blogs about the religious issues that will become big stories this year, featuring two of SMU’s own professors. The Perkins School of Theology, whose Ministers Week starts Feb. 3, is themed “Engaging the Bible.” So, is 2014 really the “Year of the Bible”?
Mayor Hayden’s statement to the Flower Mound City Council may not have been explicitly inclusive of non-Christians, but it did emphasize exploration of the text for people of all faiths.
“I ask that you join with me… and encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principle and teaching found in the Bible,” Hayden said.
Though SMU professor Robert Hunt notes the polarizing aspects of Hayden’s proclamation, he said the statement highlights the Bible as a source for secular inspiration.
“For Christians, the Bible is the starting place for our exploration of what it means to cultivate a relationship with God,” Hunt said. “Even for non-Christians, it may be a classic work of the human spirit, just as other great religious texts can speak as human texts to Christians.”
Hunt, who will be lecturing on “The Bible and Diversity: A Missiological Challenge” during Ministers Week, also explained The Perkins School of Theology’s choice to further emphasize the Bible in their week of workshops.
“The Bible is the foundation of our belief in seeking truth wherever it may be found, not least in the wide world of God’s creation beyond the Bible. It is the spirituality of truth-seeking in God’s world that our reference to the Bible supports,” Hunt said.
The Dallas Morning News Texas Faith Blog showcased opinions on political and social issues that they hope will become part of the religious discourse of 2014. For SMU’s Matthew Wilson, assistant professor of political science, the pressing question of growing global poverty poses a serious question for Christians that requires deep reflection.
“One religious issue that will likely get more attention in 2014 and the years to come is the question of inequality, both within and between societies. It is a particular focus of Pope Francis, and I hope that he is able to motivate a thoughtful, global, theologically-informed reflection on the question,” said Wilson in an interview with Wayne Slater for The Dallas Morning News.
Without the Bible, these questions of equality and social justice cannot be fully answered from a religious standpoint. The Bible can serve as a source of inspiration for students as well, who are hoping to find their own opinions and solutions for
“[The Bible] is the basis of our longing to now the greatest truths, and thus the foundation of our work as a university,” Hunt said.
With 11 months left in the year, it may be to early to decide whether or not 2014 truly is the “Year of the Bible,” but based on January alone, it is safe to say the religious text will play a starring role in many American’s everyday lives.