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?”
Last week we looked at two shortcuts to reading the Bible: Morsels of Law and Morsels of Blessing and Promise. Today we will look at the rest of the shortcuts people may take when reading the Bible.
Shortcut 3: Mirrors and Inkblots
Some people read the Bible as if its passages were Rorschach inkblots. They see what is in their head. In more sophisticated language, they project onto the Bible what they want to see. If you show them enough passages and you get them to talk about them, you will hear what is important to them, whether it is in the Bible or not!
McKnight talks about a test he gives his students on the first day of a class he teaches at North Park University. The test is a basic personality questionnaire and their views about Jesus. The results he finds each year is that everyone thinks Jesus is like them. I am not surprised by this result. One of my favorite quotes by Anne Lamott is: “You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Finishing out this shortcut, McKnight states:
This is the problem with taking this shortcut: reading the Bible becomes patting ourselves on the back and finding our story in the Bible, instead of finding the Bible’s story to be our story. Instead of entering into that story, we manipulate the story so it enters into our story.
Shortcut 4: Puzzling Together the Pieces to Map God’s Mind
For some people the Bible is like a big puzzle. Once you’ve got the puzzle solved, you no longer have to work with the pieces. The shortcut is that once you’ve expended the energy to solve the puzzle, the job is done – forever and a day. These people know what the Bible says before they open it up because they’ve already puzzled it together.
What is wrong with reading the Bible this way? Many people will emphasize one importance of the Bible while ignoring others. How do we account for the diversity of the authors of the Bible when we read it as though we have it all figured out? And, those who solve the puzzle of the Bible believe that they have it mastered. There often is nothing new to learn from the Bible because it has been all figured out.
Shortcut 5: Maestros
This final shortcut is all about learning from the Master.
That is, they go to the Bible to find the master, the uber-Rabbi – Jesus – at work. Then, when they get up from their reading of the Bible, they imitate Maestro Jesus. “What would Jesus do?” is the only question they ask. The problem here is the word “only.”
What if your Master is Paul? This shortcut ignores Jesus and looks at everything through the lens of what Paul wrote. McKnight talks about his reading the Bible through the lens of Paul:
The problem was not Paul. (I’ll get to that soon enough.) The problem was that I was not taught to read the Bible as a story and many of us weren’t. I had been nurtured in a world that read the entire Bible as a solved puzzle that used Maestro Paul’s categories to understand everything else in the Bible. Reading the Bible through a maestro’s eyes give us one chapter in the story of the Bible. One-chapter Bible readers develop one-chapter Christian lives.
Next week we will look at how the Bible should be read – as a story.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become curupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
Will evildoers never learn – those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the Lord? There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
Proverbs 11: 21 & 23
Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free. The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
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 – Hard working bumble bee