I have been contemplating what I should write my next series on for a little while, and I have really noticed some persistent negative trends in my world. While I don’t know if there is a great benefit to social media, it does expose us to lots of different people and points of view. I am in a lot of theology discussion groups, and my friends are largely in the Christian sphere, so I see quite a lot of posts that have at least a tangential relationship to the Bible. I read lots of people I agree with, and lots of people I disagree with, and my general conclusion is that most of us have no idea how to Bible.
For me the irritation of our general Biblical illiteracy usually begins with a post or meme applying a super awesome bible verse…completely out of context. People claiming promises that weren’t meant for them, believing that things are theirs that aren’t, or promoting an American-Zionist propaganda platform.I am looking squarely at you my friends who quote II Chronicles 7:14 in relation to the United States, like this meme here:
Don’t get me started on Jeremiah 29:11. Not that these verses shouldn’t be treasured and cherished for the wonderful things that they said, but the way they are leveraged into our daily lives shows that we can be truly ignorant of how to properly read the Scriptures. I do not think everyone needs to be a textual critical scholar, or fluent in Greek and Hebrew to understand the Bible, but I do believe that we have settled for the idea that the Bible is “life’s instruction manual” and read it like that. We find the places in the manual that instruct us in our situations or feelings, read them in isolation, and satiate our need for “God to speak to us.” There is just one problem with this, the Bible is not life’s instruction manual. Thinking about the Scripture this way has led, and will lead to more misunderstanding, misapplication, and misadventures in our endeavor to really know God’s revelation to us.
In this series I will address the following issues to hopefully give us some perspective on how we should be reading, interpreting, and applying Scripture. We are going to cover topics that deal with the major themes of Scripture (I said the Bible ISN’T life’s instruction manual, so what is it?), how we should approach the different genres in the Bible, how we get from reading something to understanding it, and ultimately to applying it in our lives. Along the way we will discuss common mistakes we make in our reading, and how to avoid things like proof-texting and eisegesis. This will be fun for me to write, so I hope it is informative to read!