We recently sat down with Margaret Feinberg to ask her some questions about her recent book Scouting the Divine. Here’s a few highlights of our conversation.

1. What inspired you to first write ‘Scouting the Divine’?

During my own times of study, I’ve become increasingly aware that the Bible was written in an agrarian context, but I live in modern suburbia world. When the scriptures talk about themes of harvest and seasons, I understand them with my head by not my heart. I travelled to Oregon to spend time with a shepherdess and her flock, Nebraska to visit a farmer and his nephew, southern Colorado to peek inside a beehive, and California to learn about viticulture. Along the way, I opened the scriptures, asking each person how they read various passages, not as theologians, but in light of what they did every day. Their answers illuminated passages of the Bible in a whole new way and deepened my relationship with God. I learned so much I’m still growing spiritually because of it.

2. Why do you think people misunderstand what the scriptures are really saying?

I don’t think people misunderstand as much as they don’t grasp the beauty and depth of passages simply because the culture and time-period was so different than our modern day context. The truth of God’s Word is the same, but scriptures have away of coming alive in a whole new way when we understand the cultural, historical and literary context.

3. Which scriptures did you struggle to understand fully before you developed your knowledge of agricultural and biblical history?

I don’t think I “struggled” as much as I was once again reintroduced to the wonder and awe of God’s Word by researching, studying and spending time with the shepherd, farmer, beekeeper and vintner.

4. Do you think churches should teach more biblical history and background to their congregations?

I think it’s important to study the history, cultural background, and context of scripture if we’re going to allow the Word to come alive in our hearts and reveal fresh facets of our magnificent God.

5. You embarked on several exciting adventures in the process of writing this book. Can you tell us one of your favorite discoveries?

For me, one of the many spiritual takeaways from my time with the shepherdess is that the best possible place for a sheep to be is in a flock. If left to its own devices, a sheep will wander off and its fate is predictable. It will be devoured by predators, overindulge or starve to death, or be infected by parasites. The result is always the same: death.

Just as sheep are meant to be among the flock under the watchful eye of a good shepherd, so, too, we are meant to live and flourish in a flock under the watchful eye of our Good Shepherd. Among the flock, I was reminded of just how much I need to be among a community of believers. I need the local church. We all need the local church. And I think that’s a message that needs to resound at this moment in history.

Margaret Feinberg is a popular speaker and author. Visit her website at www.margaretfeinberg.com, become a fan on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg.