Why I Read the Old Testament with Spiritual Seekers

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Together, we discover Deuteronomy’s Good News.

I first met “Carmen” and her husband after church one morning in midsummer. Raised in Spain, Carmen had been baptized as an infant and had a nominally religious background. She’d recently moved to Canada and, after a series of events, including the death of a friend named Grace and an early morning Google search, she found Grace Toronto Church—and arrived the first time wearing her pajamas.

Carmen kept coming back, week after expectant week, growing more eager to read and understand the Bible for herself. Her bursting curiosity and acute spiritual hunger struck me when she and her family came over for lunch several weeks later. In late August, I asked Carmen to join me and two other women in studying the Bible.

The book we studied together? Deuteronomy.

A Very Good Place to Start

In the early years of our marriage, my husband, Ryan, and I often led evangelistic Bible studies with colleagues and neighbors. We’d read and discuss Scripture passages, usually from the Gospels, sharing observations and fielding questions. I can assure you that we never offered to study Deuteronomy with our spiritually seeking friends.

It can be tempting to feel like the Old Testament is something to be embarrassed about, with its purported misogyny, accounts of genocide, and sexually repressive rules. Deuteronomy (and some other Old Testament books) might be likened to the eccentric uncle you hope will miss this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, your odd uncle is a part of the family, but it might be safer to introduce him to your boyfriend once there’s a ring on your finger.

No doubt, there are challenges in reading Deuteronomy with a spiritual seeker—and I worried about all of them. Deuteronomy gives …

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