There is this collection of artifacts, literary artifacts that together tell an amazing and essential story. The artifacts include poetry, letters, short stories/histories and other great genre we don’t quite know how to label. The stories these artifacts support cover the amazing career of the decendants of a middle Eastern nomad named Abraham. The good and the bad…and ugly – nothing is hidden, warts and all! This collection is uniquly profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training, and equipping people so they can do good works for God.
It is friends of this collection, we call the bible, that seem to do most damage to it, as they entirely miss it’s purpose and message. McLaren [quoted above] suggests 10 ideas for reclaiming the bible for contemporary readers, so we wont miss the point.
- Become students, Seeker, Learners. – We need to stop reading the bible to confirm what we think we already know, and instead come at it like children, beginers.
- Admit that parts of the bible perplex, bother, confuse, or concern you.
- Broaden your preocupation with propositions (What you are supposed to think) So it includes mission (What you are supposed to be and do). – Enough of trying to perfect our theory, hoping it will lead to perfect practice. Instead we must learn by doing, intertwining theory with practice.
- Drop any affair you may have with certainty, proof, argument-and replace it with Dialogue, conversation, intrigue, and search. – Bible study in recent decades yeilded clarity, clarity was often boring, and probably not accurate either, accuracy is seldom clear, but usually fuzzy and mysterious.
- Drop any analytical-reductionist tendancies and instead focus on the big story, always moving toward your place in its ongoing trajectory. If we don’t focus onthe big picture, the whole story, we are tempted to impose alien readings on the bible. For example, if we reduce the bible to an elaborate answer to the question, “how does a person go to heaven after he dies?” – if we think this is the big question the whole bible is answering-we’ll be prone to misunderstand major parts of the bible that were written before that question was on anybody’s mind (like the entire old testament).
- Find things to do with the bible other than read and study it. – lectio devina is a good example from the benadictines. Ignation reading, using imagination. Memorising. Meditation etc.
- Don’t try to solve mysteries-seek and revere them.
- Value marginalised readings and readers. – Privilaged, comfortable and secure people – like most of us in the west- typically misunderstand the bible because we cannot sufficiently identify with it’s original characters, writers and readers. They were nearly always marginalised, oppressed and in danger.
- Think of the bible as a book of answers and questions. – what if the bible is intended not merely to tell you what to think, but how to think. In that case, the questions the bible raises in your mind may be more important than the answers you find in it.
- If you preach, preach differently. Ironically, our style may become more like Jesus-even more like the bible in general-as it becomes characterised by parable, story, conversation, proverb, poem, image and surprise. All of which are a far cry from 3 points of application. If you’re not careful we may rekindle others’ fascination with this wild and wonderful book called the bible-and in the process rekindle our own fascination, too.
Taken From “Adventures in Missing The Point”