Monday, March 21, 2011

How Not To Read the Bible

I've taken about a 3 year hiatus from the Bible...and I think that's fine. I needed some time away from religion (not Jesus) for a little while, so I could come back with fresh eyes and a healthier perspective. It seems that the time of exile is coming to an end, however, so Mandy and I have taken up the practice of daily Bible reading once again during this season of Lent. We have not been religiously dutiful in our goal of reading each day, but I think that is alright. The last thing I would want is for the reading of scripture to once again become a tedious chore that I could check off my daily to-do list (like it once was). I could say more about my goals as I come back to the biblical text (and I probably will in a future post), but I'm not going to do that now. For now, I will simply leave you with some words from the incredible author Donald Miller. He blogged these thoughts today. Enjoy.

How Not To Read The Bible
I almost made a mistake the other day of opening the Bible with an agenda. I’d had an idea about a certain “Biblical principal” and I wanted to check a text to see if I was right. Then I realized that’s a slippery slope. There’s not a lot you can’t use the Bible to support. And besides that, if the Bible is designed to be a constitution, it’s horribly organized. I had to put myself in check.
This isn’t an easy thing to do. If you go to the Bible without a preconceived grid through which you interpret it’s meaning, you may in fact find out that your pre-conceived grid isn’t as concrete as you thought, and you may then have to admit that you’re wrong. I wonder if our grids aren’t so solid for this reason, rather than as supposed guardrails to keep us from straying from the truth.
I’ve a friend who reads the Bible not to look for right ideas but to look for something to do. Literally, he opens the Bible, and reads till he sees something that he can take action on, whether it’s loving as friend or confronting a bad guy or bringing some food to somebody who is hungry. He said he got tired of always parsing ideas and wanted some action. He’s one of the most exciting people I know.

If I were the devil, and I’m hoping I’m not, I’d just try to get people to use the Bible to argue about ideas rather than do anything.

HT: Donald Miller


  1. I've taken a bit of a break from the Bible too - with some exceptions to read some of the gospels as those still feel filled with life. The rest feels like religion - not because of their actual contents but because of how they have been (ab)used.

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