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Winter 2006 | Volume 29, Number 1 | Faculty

Truth that Transforms

SPU Faculty Member Contributes to the New Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible

Associate Professor of Theology Kerry Dearborn’s name is in the Bible — literally. A contributor of introductions and study notes for John’s three epistles in the newly released Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible, her writing appears with that of such notable theologians and authors as Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann, and Seattle Pacific University alumnus Eugene Peterson ’54.

Kerry Dearborn, who wrote introductions and study notes for 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John in the Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible, explains that the word “renovaré” means “to renew” in Latin.

“The average American owns nine Bibles,” says Dearborn. “Yet to what extent do we allow Scripture to transform our lives? If we take the Bible seriously, we will look and be different.” Rather than making only “surface changes” to our lives, she explains, “God wants to use Scripture to enter and radiate from the core of our being.”

That message is at the heart of the Renovaré Bible, geared toward educated laypeople. “It’s not about merely adding one more Bible to our shelves,” says Dearborn. “It’s about bridging the gap between the devotional and the academic and giving people new tools for application.” After all, she adds, “Truth is something that transforms us rather than something we master. We should have a dynamic response to the truth of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture.”

When asked to write for the Renovaré Bible, Dearborn says she felt honored and challenged: “I prayed a lot about it. I was sensing God’s call to do this — and I knew I wouldn’t be doing it alone.”

In approaching her writing, Dearborn took seriously the project’s focus on God’s transforming power through Scripture, a subject that is highlighted in 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. It’s also a topic that’s been on Dearborn’s mind. Every summer, she and her husband, World Vision International Associate Director for Faith and Development Tim Dearborn, pick a guiding question — something they discuss and ponder together for months. Last summer’s question was: “If we as Christians are reborn in Christ, why do we not live more distinctive lives?”

That question comes out of the very texts about which Dearborn was writing. In the introduction for 1 John, she writes: “Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we have become God’s own children, those who are ‘born of God.’ As God’s children, our lives will reflect the light and love of God’s character.” She continues that thought in her writing about 2 John: “… truth is identified with the eternal Father and Son and is thus a powerful shaping force that takes hold of us through the Spirit.”

Dearborn says she sees such transformation in students at SPU, from the time they arrive on campus until their graduation. “It’s definitely happening,” she says, noting students’ affinity with the University’s vision to engage the culture and change the world. “It’s a seed that’s planted in students’ lives, and I think it makes a difference. There is certainly a growing momentum here on campus for transformation and radical discipleship.”

— BY Sarah Jio

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