Anchored in The Scriptures: Edwina and Ryan – Rediscovering Scripture, Re-energising Communities 

23 May 2024

By Amy Galliford

“I had a big shift when I moved from intellectual engagement towards spiritual engagement – it was about God, not the book.” 

For Edwina Blair, Associate Lecturer in Biblical Studies at ACOM, rediscovering the Scriptures as a young adult catalysed an entirely new trajectory for her approach to faith.

As a young person, Edwina carried a sense of religious expectation that the Bible was something to be seriously handled and diligently read. Coupled with her naturally studious personality, this expectation set her up to perceive the Scriptures through a thick lens of legalism. Encountering it as something spiritually alive and active shifted this perspective. 

“It helped move me from seeing the Bible as a textbook to rather a way of engaging in relationship with God. I went from having to read it to wanting to.” 

Out of this new approach, she discovered a new freedom in engaging with Scripture that resonated with her personality. A fresh love for studying the Bible intellectually was awakened, alongside a newfound passion for biblical literacy that she has carried into both her own PhD and her teaching in Biblical Studies at ACOM – the theological and ministry college of churches of Christ in NSW & ACT.

“Most Christians are missing big pieces from their understanding of the biblical narrative. One of the main things I try to teach is how to fit all the pieces together to show the big story,” Edwina says, emphasising the importance of considering historical context and language when interpreting the Bible.  

Senior Pastor at Campbelltown Church of Christ, Ryan Graham’s story follows a similar trajectory. Despite having grown up in church, it took studying at ACOM to recognise that many of the core beliefs he so vehemently defended were really ones he had inherited from others.  

“I had a lot of assumptions about God and the Bible, but I’d learned most of them second-hand. I hadn’t engaged myself.” 

This realisation triggered a new enthusiasm for investigating Scripture to uncover God’s truth for himself, a process he describes as fraught with the discomfort of revisiting old assumptions.  He recalls, “You have all these scary moments of questioning, ‘Does the Bible actually even say this? ‘Where did I get this from?’ Even if the beliefs are true, you don’t know what they are founded on.” 

Ryan and Edwina’s Passion For Scripture Today 

As teachers and leaders of community in our network today, both Ryan and Edwina are resolute in their conviction that communities of faith are most fruitful when rooted in the centrality of Scripture. As Edwina explains, “Once a community of faith understands that consistent heart of God evident throughout all Scripture, everything they do is then able to flow out of an understanding of this compassionate, slow-to-anger God.”  

When Ryan first became a Youth Pastor, he found that many youth leaders approached the Bible the same way he had years earlier. 

“People had great principles, but they weren’t founded in Scripture. It’s like a hot air balloon with nothing tethering it to the ground,” Ryan says. As a result, he became passionate about leading others to build their beliefs on the Bible rather than the other way around. 

The conviction runs deep. As Ryan says, “If we don’t start with God’s Word, we start with our own concept of God, and typically that is a broken view. The question is, who is shaping our view of God if not the Word?”  

Now a Senior Pastor, Ryan observes this fruitfulness in his own community as members encounter the Bible afresh and explore it for themselves, the same way he did years ago. 

“I’m seeing how God’s Word is reinvigorating the community when they have those light bulb moments of realising, “That’s what it means!” There’s something really energising about that.” 

Reflecting on her own revelation about approaching Scripture, Edwina shared that while there is room for a wide range of interpretations of the Bible, its central revelation of God provides a foundation that unifies us with each other today and with our spiritual ancestors in the Scriptures themselves. 

“God has been doing the same single thing since the beginning, which is to bring us back into relationship with Him. He was doing it in the time of Moses, the time of David, the time of Paul, and He is doing it now,” Edwina says.  

Across their teaching, preaching and personal journeys, Edwina and Ryan both emphasise the importance of exploring God’s word for ourselves and anchoring our faith in a firm understanding of what Scripture really says, rather than what we assume about it. As Edwina puts it, “Both God and the Scriptures are robust enough to take our questions.” 



Our Ethos at Work:

This story highlights one of the seven facets of the ethos of our network of churches: Anchored in the Scriptures. Edwina and Ryan, while only two leaders amongst many in our network, remind us that God’s Spirit is drawing His people to champion this value for His Church today.

To learn more about the churches of Christ in NSW & ACT ethos, check out our Who We Are resources.

Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE