Link love: How we read the Bible

On the last day of my Introduction to Hebrew Bible/Old Testament class before the final exam, we had a class discussion about what it means to us to say that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Given the wide range of denominational and theological backgrounds that students bring to class, it was not surprising that our opinions differed on this topic.

It’s probably also not surprising that I was the outlier in urging caution about placing too much reverence in the Bible. It’s not that I don’t value the Bible—in fact, I do very much, and this course I just finished helped me to value it even more—it’s that I believe that it is a text that provides its greatest benefit to us when we are able to wrestle with it and question it. Much like the Zen Buddhist saying that cautions not mistaking the finger pointing at the moon for the moon, I believe that the Bible should point us toward a relationship with God and not become the object of our worship itself.

I’ve seen too many cases where the Bible (or one’s interpretation of it) has become such an object of worship in itself that it leads to the text being used a weapon against others or can lead to driving others away from Christianity altogether because of the misuse of the text. Today, I’ve collected a few links from people who express similar concerns with how we treat the Bible.

Rachel Held Evans addresses this topic frequently and promotes a greater openness in the way we talk about and read the Bible. She had two posts this fall that really spoke to this issue in a way that resonated with me. The first was called I love the Bible, which talks about the importance of being willing and able to wrestle with the text. The second is called When our interpretations differ, and this one talks about why we should celebrate the fact that we can find different meanings in the text as we wrestle with it rather than expecting that we should all see it the same way. I highly recommend both of these posts! (And pretty much everything else she writes too.)

Rebecca Trotter of The Upside Down World wrote a post this fall on the different ways that we can read scripture. It’s called Do you read scripture like a Pharisee or like Jesus? As one who definitely used to read it as a Pharisee and who is now shifting into new ways of reading it, I found this post to be very encouraging that I am headed in the right direction.

James F. McGrath of Exploring Our Matrix on the Progressive Christian Channel on Patheos also addresses this topic with some frequency. However, the post of his that I want to highlight for this particular link love list is a cartoon that gets back to my earlier comment about not mistaking the finger pointing at the moon for the moon. His post is called Hey Guys, Eyes Up Here! This one made me chuckle while making a good point at the same time.

I’m well aware that there are people who disagree with me on this because there was a time when I would have strongly disagreed with my current stance. However, I’ve actually come to appreciate the Bible more as I’ve learned to question and wrestle with it than I did when I read it in more literal and Pharisaic ways.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

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  1. Pingback: Digging in words, theories and artefacts « Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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