10 March 2011

(Re)Learning to Read

I've spent my first year of seminary learning more things outside of class than in class. There are just some things that textbooks cannot teach.

In my undergraduate work in Biblical studies, I could exegete a passage and explain to you its grammatical construction in Hebrew. I thought that I already knew how to read Scripture... But in many ways I was doing violence to it.
I am still recovering from reading the Bible in this manner. Although exegesis certainly has its place, it can sometimes strip Scripture of its living, breathing qualities and reduce it to a set of impersonal, systematized ideas to be extrapolated.

I am (re)learning to read Scripture.

Here are some important things I've been (re)learning:

1. I am learning to read Scripture while listening to the Holy Spirit, who inspired and continues to inspire it. This involves engaging my intellect/reason, but not completely depending on it.

2. I am learning to read Scripture as God's revelation of His self to me, especially through Jesus Christ. I want to know the mind of Christ, not a collection of stories and principles.

3. I am learning to read Scripture in the hope of seeking my Father's Kingdom and righteousness here on this earth as it is in Heaven. It is not a utilitarian handbook for making my life "work."

4. I am learning to read Scripture with the intent of becoming a trained actor in God's Story. I read to become immersed in the text. Less can be more, slower can be better. Although it is a great practice, I am not trying to "get through" the Bible and finish it in a year.

5. I am learning to read Scripture for obedience, not for mastery and expertise.

6. I am learning to read Scripture as a response to God's grace and the means by which I can nourish a grace-filled community. I do not read so I can create a shame-oriented, legalistic demeanor.

7. I am learning to read Scripture as an act of love for both God and others.

8. I am learning to read Scripture as a text that is as much alive as at it was its time of writing. It is not the dead words of a dead God.

Who you like to join me in this (re)learning process?

"O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not: what is tedious at first will afterwards be pleasant. It is for your life; there is no other way [...] Do justice to your soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer."
-John Wesley, 1760