Are you interested in seeing how the Bible can be important and meaningful even for those of us who do not believe?

Glenn Siepert is one of our Blog Volunteers, who provides graphics for our public posts; he has just published a very interesting book for which I wrote a blurb (endorsement) for the cover.  Glenn Siepert has an interesting background and story to tell, and he uses his book to help others think about their own stories in light of the biblical narratives, showing how this is a crucially important way to read the Bible – even for those who don’t (or no longer) believe in its literal truth.

Glenn’s moving book is called Emerging from the Rubble: Thirty Stories about Grief, Shattered Dreams, Broken Relationships, and Finding the Courage to Keep Going.  I’ve asked Glenn to provide us some blog posts explaining the book and its background in his own life.  Here’s the first:


A little about me – I grew up in the world of Christian Fundamentalism. How “fundy” was I, you ask? One time I got a huge piece of paper from the local butcher (you know, that brownish paper that comes on a gigantic roll that they use to wrap up steaks, hamburgers, and chicken) and I taped it to my wall so that I could chart out the End Times.


Yup – I was “butcher-paper-on-the-wall-homemade-end-times-chart”-fundy.


Anyways, as a Fundamentalist I believed the Bible to be inerrant, infallible, perfect – all the things – while books by guys (never women) like Josh McDowell, Wayne Grudem, and Tim LaHaye filled my shelves and my brain. For me, the Bible was not just a guidebook for my life, but a weapon that I was called to wield against anyone who dared push back on “our” kind of Christianity.


I’ve since left Fundamentalism behind (amen) and have exchanged my McDowell, Grudem, and LaHaye books for ones by people like Bart Ehrman, Diana Butler Bass, Brian McLaren, and others. Although I still consider myself a Christian of some sort[1], I no longer see the Bible as the inerrant and perfect “Word of God”, but rather as a collection of ancient texts that (for some mysteriously fascinating reason) have endured the test of time to find a home on many of our bookshelves today.


Why have these texts endured time? Why have they found relevancy in the lives of so many people throughout history? Why do they continue to captivate people who are 2,000+ years removed from their context? How might they have spoken to their original audience? How might they speak to us today?


These are the kinds of questions that I think about on most days and they are the kinds of questions that lay the foundation for my book, “Emerging From the Rubble”.


I started writing the book in January 2022 shortly after my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer and I finished it about 2 months after he passed away in March 2023. What’s the book about? It’s an exploration of various stories from the Gospel of Matthew where we assume that his original audience was the Messianic Jews who were living in Antioch in the wake of Rome’s destruction of their Temple – the very center of the Jewish universe – and then wonder (if that’s the case) how that audience might have received those stories.


Is that who his audience was?


Were those his original readers/listeners?


I have no idea. No one does, really. Right? None of us were there and so we can’t know with 100% certainty. We can make guesses, though; and we can look to scholarship where we find some support that these may have been the people that Matthew’s Gospel was written to.


And so IF this was his audience then my mind begins to race with all sorts of questions – why did Matthew choose to tell this set of stories? And why did he tell them so differently than Mark, Luke, and John told their stories? And how might his readers who had recently lost their Temple have received these stories?


The reality is that the writer of Matthew’s Gospel wasn’t out to give us 2023 readers a play by play of the life of Jesus. Nor (I’d argue) was he out to give his original readers a play by play of Jesus’ life. Instead, I think, he was writing to a specific group of people who found themselves in the midst of a specific set of circumstances to give them a specific kind of teaching.


The assumption I’m making then is that Matthew was writing to challenge this community and encourage them to grieve their loss and then stand up amidst the rubble, brush off the dust and the ash, and find the courage to take a step forward all the while being mindful of the Way of Jesus.


What would it look like for them to move forward without the Temple? What would it look like for them to move forward apart from their Mother Tradition that didn’t honor Jesus as the Messiah? What would it look like to start anew, some 300 miles away from Jerusalem? How would they move forward?


The idea of my book is for us to get in touch with OUR fallen Temples, the centers of our universes that have been met with destruction (divorce, death, loss, a positive test result, the end of a season of life, etc.) and wonder how we might receive Matthew’s stories in the context of our own universe imploding moments.


My collapsed Temple is the death of my father; and the 15-months or so that our family watched him suffer was an onslaught of horror that I knew would inevitably land me in a pile of rubble that would cause me to wonder how on earth I’d ever find the strength or courage to move forward. As his diagnosis worsened, it felt like a giant meteor was hurtling towards my life – I saw it coming, I knew it was getting closer, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it.


The morning that he passed away was the moment that the meteor struck the Temple and the whole thing came down. My mom called me at 2am on March 5 and asked me to get to the ER as quickly as I could and after a couple of hours of being there I watched him take his last breath while he held my hand and my mom’s hand.


For me, the Bible is important during these universe imploding moments not because it’s “God’s words to me” or because it can tell me what to do or how to make it through, but because it has a mysterious knack for helping me see things I didn’t see before as I read stories penned by living, breathing people who experienced losses similar to my own.


The genealogy of Jesus? The temptations of Jesus? The story of the rich ruler?


If these stories (and more) were written to encourage and/or challenge a group of people who had lost what mattered most to them … how might they do the same for me as I face the loss of someone who mattered so deeply to me?


This book means the world to me and so I hope you’ll pick one up. All the links to the book and my work are below, I’d love to connect with you.


Over the next couple of posts I’ll share some excerpts from the book to give you a taste of what you might expect.





Emerging From the Rubble:


What If Project:






Email (I will answer!): [email protected]


[1] I consider myself more of a mystical type of Christian. In other words, I steer clear of definitive answers, embrace questions, am fascinated by the Jesus story, and think the Scriptures (those in the Bible and those not in the Bible) are meant to inspire wonder and awe as opposed to win arguments and/or tell us how to live our lives.

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2023-07-03T22:53:47-04:00July 4th, 2023|Book Discussions, Public Forum|

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  1. kt July 4, 2023 at 8:37 am

    In my mind, very source that inflicts our “theological wounds” can also offer comfort and healing, inviting us to perceive and understand it from a different/fresh perspective. The key is to look beyond what initially meets the eye and see the diverse dimensions of a christian faith.

    One of the most prominent titles given to Jesus in the Gospels and Epistles is the Greek term ‘Christ’, which in a Jewish context translates to Messiah or Lord. This term was not exclusive to Jesus but used for several individuals in the Hebrew scriptures, meaning ‘God’s anointed’. Another aspect seems to be reflected in the second part of the Book of Isaiah, signifying that the title could be related to more than just one person, Israel either it was meant as the nation, a people or a state of mind as the “seeker”.

    Even when these perspectives from the Old Testament are incorporated into a Christian framework, it does not diminish the divine presence. On the contrary, I believe it ammplifies our understanding, or relationship and connection with God.

    Jesus, as God’s anointed, is believed to have expressed himself by saying, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”. This proclamation calls us to celebrate our existence and live courageously. The authors of the New Testament intended to communicate this vision of life, encouraging us to live fully, to identify the source of love, and empower us to love extravagantly.

    Living this way, we might begin to see what Meister Eckhart and the theologian Paul Tillich referred to as the ‘Ground of all being’. By aligning our lives with this divine source, we can begin to heal our wounds and find comfort in our faith.

    So yes, regardless of literal discrepancies and textual errors, there may be a way to reconcile with the interpreted portrait that the early authors intended to give about Jesus the Christ which also could be of help tho those in pain and even “non-believers”.

    • gsiepert July 4, 2023 at 11:18 am

      Ah yes. Thank you for sharing this. For me, the Bible has been used to inflict deep wounds. For a while I had to put the Bible away because although I still found it so interesting … I couldn’t read it apart from that painful lens I was given. People like Bart, though, have helped me realize that the Bible didn’t inflict the wound, but the way it was used did. These days I find much healing and refreshment on the very same pages that are stained with the “blood of my wounds”, so to speak. What once hurt me now brings much life and perspective. I often get accused of “bashing the Bible” or hating it or whatever, but that couldn’t be further from the truth – I love it more than I ever have and do my best to not put burdens upon it that it’s not meant to carry (ex. inerrancy, perfection, etc.). Thanks again for sharing!

      • AngeloB July 8, 2023 at 6:57 am

        Reading the Bible without believing its inerrancy is so freeing!

  2. jscheller July 4, 2023 at 9:00 am

    Just bought the book. Your back story sounds similar to mine and am looking forward to seeing how you have integrated your knowledge with your ability to keep scripture use a healthy endeavor in your ministry.

    • gsiepert July 4, 2023 at 11:20 am

      Thank you so much for picking up a copy. I’d love to hear what you think, feel free to comment here or email me as you make your way through.

  3. wpoe54 July 4, 2023 at 9:57 am

    Many ancient texts endure because their poetry and narratives touch the heart and inform the mind. The ancient stories of Greek mythology provide the templates for nearly all the stories we tell each other today. I am sure that is possible from the Bible stories, but I find too many to be weighted down by their use to justify horrific activities over the last couple of millennia.

    We seek comfort in difficult times, but also inspiration and encouragement when all is well. I’ve found that hard to glean from the Bible, which contains so many woe-is-me narratives, threats, and warnings.

    That said, I respect your efforts to transform into a person who finds inspiration and relates to our Western religious heritage. I was a kind of fundamentalist in being a member of what many call a cult, but I prefer New Religious Movement, that was led by the Korean, Sun Myung Moon. The teachings seemed to resolve the conflicts I found in the Bible, most importantly, what would have occurred had the Jews accepted Jesus. As I aged from 18 to 28 and saw the world, the scientific method became my preferred way of knowing. Now I’m an atheist.

    • gsiepert July 4, 2023 at 11:25 am

      Thank you so much for sharing some of your story with me. I’ve come to a place where I learn from various traditions and paths – Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Gnostic, Tarot, Astrology – but keep being drawn back to Jesus and the Bible. I don’t consider myself an Agnostic or an Atheist (although I’m “accused” of it all the time!), but still some sort of Christian. Even though I don’t see Jesus as “the Son of God” or the Bible as the “Word of God” … I find much value and inspiration in both and so I continue to follow and see where it all leads.

      As you said – the texts inspire and inform and so they endure.

  4. AllisonRae July 4, 2023 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I own a bookstore in Western North Carolina. I’ll be ordering the book to sell and one for me to read.

    • gsiepert July 4, 2023 at 9:10 pm

      Oh how exciting! Thank you so much. Where about in North Carolina is your shop? We live in Gastonia just outside of Charlotte. Thanks for your support! 🙏🏻

  5. RonaldTaska July 4, 2023 at 10:56 pm

    Wow! Keep going! My Dad’s illness (Parkinson’s disease) was just awful for him and me and changed me, for the worst, I guess. I became a physician, but …. I honestly don’t think the Bible stories helped me much with this grief, but I remain open to hearing your viewpoint. For me, Bible stories became just stories that people dreamed up to imagine a better place.

    • gsiepert July 5, 2023 at 6:19 am

      I’m sorry to hear about your dad, my heart goes out to you 💔. I’ve been drawn to the Bible since I was a kid. I don’t know why or what it is, but ever since the 4th grade or so (in a private Christian school Bible class) I’ve found it so interesting. My thoughts on it have evolved much, of course, but it continues to travel with me and be a companion in my life. If you pick up a copy, please let me know what you think after you read a bit of it. Thanks for sharing some of your story with me ✌🏻

  6. sabramuk July 5, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    I lost my faith some years ago, but the cadencies of the Bible frequently come back to me, often in the English of Cranmer, or even Latin. It’s hard to forget. The other day, “Domine, quis stabit?” (“O Lord, who shall stand?”) from Psalm 130 came to me while musing about justice. The Bible can certainly be considered an attempt to understand and overcome evil.

    The melancholy lesson for the unbeliever is that the attempt seems to have failed.

    • gsiepert July 5, 2023 at 6:27 pm

      Good insights, thanks for sharing. Sometimes I don’t know where I stand with the Bible. In my fundy days it was the “authoritative Word of God”, literally written by God through people. And then I began to see it more as a guidebook. Then more of a book of suggestions for a good life. Then more like random people’s attempts to make sense of the world. Today I mostly see it as a collection of writings by people trying to make sense of the world and make sense of what kind of God might be present with us. I keep coming back to it, though, because I find the stories interesting and helpful in pondering all sorts of things I come up against in life – loss, grief, mistakes, evil, etc. I find that same wisdom in other texts that didn’t make it into the Bible as well as texts from other religions.

      Anyways, let me know if you pick up the book – I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for sharing!

  7. sabramuk July 6, 2023 at 8:36 am

    I never understood the Bible as the “Word of God” in that authoritative, infallible way. At most (following Newman), it might be mined for proof-texts for the (Catholic) Church’s teaching. I “believed” (in that sense) in the Church. I was weaned off the Bible-virus by religious education at school, in which we learned about some of the most glaring inconsistencies at the age of ten.

    Still, I don’t think we can deny the place of the Bible as great literature. Be it horror or comedy (or both, as with a certain tent peg), all life is there. The Psalms, in particular, I warmed to. I have relatively little sympathy for Paul (or pseudo-Paul).

    • gsiepert July 9, 2023 at 6:44 am

      Horror and comedy, for sure! Thanks so much fkr sharing these insights. 🙏🏻

  8. jbhodge July 7, 2023 at 1:42 pm

    The NT and most of the OT are books of “love and hope”. Only a small portion of books relates to any type of law. However much of Christianity (and Islam) considers themselves as “Lawmen”, “Judges” and “Executioners” hell bent on cleaning up this earth with purpose of creating Gods Kingdom on Earth. The Christian and Muslim dispute is a war between two armies as to whom has the “rights” to do such, ( and whether it will be the Kingdom of God (Allah) or Kingdom of Jesus (“Onward Christian Soldiers”). The love and hope of the bible is greatly ignored or reserved for only those who “believe” in the “cause”.

    The term “Believer” has been perverted as much as the Bible.. “Hope” is a hope for a better future and “Love” is a love of those in your present. “Believer” is one who believes in a better future, (not in a cause). In Jesus, God has given us proof of a better future in our afterlife. This was the message of the earliest believers (1 Cor 13).

    The Bible gives much hope and comfort to those who do not believe in the cause.

    • gsiepert July 9, 2023 at 6:42 am

      Good insights, thanks so much for sharing ✌🏻

  9. Jac July 7, 2023 at 7:53 pm

    I lost my 37 year old daughter to suicide just over four years ago. I was already questioning my faith but that kind of was the clincher that undid it all. I have a strange bundle of mixed feelings about reading your book. I probably will read it though. I had to put the bible away because it became such a negative thing for me. But maybe I am being too harsh. I like to think I still believe in God in some way, but I am not sure how to even describe that belief. Anyway you have my condolences for your loss and i admire what you have done writing about it.

    • gsiepert July 9, 2023 at 6:41 am

      Ahh thank you for sharing this. My heart breaks for you and I am so sorry for your loss. I too put my Bible away for a long time, not after a tragedy but after my daughter was born. I couldn’t read it apart from the fundamentalist lens I was given and I hated it – all the talk or original sin and hell and inerrancy. But then I came across Bart and others who helped me see that all of that “theology” and all of those “doctrines” were burdens the text was never intended to bear. That freed me up to read it in all sorts of different ways and still hold on to my faith (as different as it looks these days). If you’d like me to send you the introduction where I share a bit of my thoughts on the Bible and introduce the book let me know. Much love to you ❤️✌🏻.

      • Jac July 9, 2023 at 8:13 pm

        Thank you so much. I downloaded the sample of your book on kindle and see how you have taken a fresh perspective. I will read the rest.
        It got me to thinking. I read fiction books where characters do awful things, even in the name of ‘god’ but I can also take inspiration from some of the characters in things they say and do (eg author Dean Koontz!). Maybe I could read the Bible a bit like that. Not get hung up on the god-inspired, inerrency, everything is historically true and right stuff. Just because a character says God told them something doesn’t mean he really did, and it may reflect more on the character than God. Lots to think about. Thank you again.

        • gsiepert July 10, 2023 at 7:53 am

          Exactly, that’s a great approach and where I’m at too. Letting go of inerrancy and NOT reading the Bible through that lens was a wrestling match with my brain that took a long time. I still struggle with it, to be honest. It’s a journey – some people have to leave the Bible behind, others keep it and read it differently. You do you, absolutely no shame either way. I appreciate you!

  10. sLiu July 17, 2023 at 9:37 am

    ” Bible was not just a guidebook for my life,”

    I hated prudes would say just open the Bible, anthology; & U know how to live. NOT the Taiwanese cult I grew up in. I strictly followed what South African Andrew Murray wrote in New Life. Someone else popularly received & accepted who has lived that life 150 years ago in a very different world & race.

    Past decade have increasingly more flexible but strictly following his “rules”

    BTW no longer regular church volunteer or even go. Especially Wiersbe preaching on friend to person in flock: don’t get my involved in your SIN. & the USA’s Christianity has sinned & refuses to repent. [I was living in China 1995-2021]

    • gsiepert July 17, 2023 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to read and share some of your story with me.

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