Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.
Discussion: The Blue Parakeet by Scott McKnight
From Chapter 3, “Inkblots and Puzzles: How, Then, are We Reading?”
In this chapter, McKnight states that we need to learn to read the Bible as a story, complete with a beginning (Genesis 1 – 11), a middle (Genesis 12 – Malachi 4; Matthew – Revelation), and an end (Matthew 25; Romans 8; Revelation 21 – 22). Reading the Bible as a story may seem long and arduous and sometimes we may want to take shortcuts. McKnight suggests five shortcuts that people may take when reading the Bible. Let’s take a look at the first two shortcuts.
Shortcut 1: Morsels of Law
For some, the Bible is a massive collection of laws – what to do and what not to do.
McKnight recognizes that the Bible’s laws and commandments are important, however, there are consequences by looking at the Bible as a law book.
We become intoxicated with our own moral superiority. We become more concerned with being right than being good. We become judgmental.
I have run across people who read the Bible as law and grace. It always seems there is more focus on law than grace.
Shortcut 2: Morsels of Blessings and Promises
Dividing up the Bible into chapters and verses provides some ease in referencing scripture. However, it does make reading the Bible as a story a bit more difficult. Imagine taking a novel you’re currently reading and sectioning it out by numbers. Would it change how you read the story? Because I prefer to the read the Bible as story, when I write out the Sunday Gatherings I usually leave the verses out of the text. I find it is easier to follow the flow of the writing when the numbers are not present in the text.
Dividing the Bible up into verses turns the Bible in morsels and leads us to read the Bible as a collection of divine morsels, sanctified morsels of truth. We pause for each one to see if we can get something from it.
Have you ever read the Bible using a year plan? These plans help you to read the entire Bible through in a year. Each day there are Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms or Proverbs passages to read through. I found these plans frustrating because I never cared for how it broke apart the story. I found them confusing to carry over the thought from one day to the next. Likewise, have you ever read the Bible focusing on specific blessings or promises each day? The stark reality of the difficult passages are left out in this case.
What happens to the Christian who reads the Bible, day after day and week after week, as little more than a collection of morsels of blessings and promises? (You might want to sit down with a friend and talk about this.) For one, everything is good and wonderful and light and airy. These people become optimistic and upbeat and wear big smiles… until something bad happens, until they enter into a period of suffering and feel distant from God, or until they hit a wall. For every hill, there is a valley.
When we read the Bible as a story, we get the complete story – good and bad, evil and holy, hurting and healing.
Next week we will cover the last three shortcuts to reading the Bible.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.
Proverbs 11: 18 – 20
The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward. The truly righteous man attains life, but he who pursues evil goes to his death. The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?
Photo credit: Kathi – The flowers of spring and summer will be fading soon.