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How Do You Read the Bible?

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People read the Bible differently. Some read it flippantly, fancifully, dismissively, selfishly or subjectively. Others read it academically or ardently. How do you read it? Do you mine the text for nuggets, search for solace, seek an encounter with God, look for guidance, or simply go with the flow? Do you read it as a collection of disjointed independent books or as a unified canon? Do you read it in mono, stereo or surround sound? Do you read it mainly through the lens of modernity or postmodernity? Do you read it contextually, critically, historically, or literally? Do you read it from the perspective of a Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal or Charismatic? Do you read it because you want to, have to or think you ought to? Or do you just read it!?

There is a right and a wrong way to read the Bible. So what’s the right way? While there are no quick or easy answers, here are three formative suggestions:

  • Read the Bible as a whole. The two Testaments are not separate books between one cover. View the Bible as the first and second dramatic acts of God’s covenantal relationship with humanity. Recognise that “in the Old Testament, the New is concealed; in the New, the Old is revealed” Augustine of Hippo.
  • Read the Bible Christologically. Christ said, “. . . the Scriptures point to me!” John 5:39. See Christ as the thread holding Scripture together, the central character of the Old and New Testament, the One unlocking meaning and understanding.
  • Let the Bible read you. The Bible is more than a book – it’s alive and active (cf. Hebrews 4:12). Given permission, the Bible will weigh and measure you, and then, finding you wanting, will proceed to fill your heart with faith, hope and love.

© Scripture Union Canada 2013

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3 thoughts on “How Do You Read the Bible?

  1. Dr. Murray,

    This post is very interesting. I have not see such a challenging series of question on this matter for a very long time. People do not talk about the details of reading the Bible. Many are just focused on READ the Bible. I would like to continue this discussion with you in the light of the European context which is post-Christian, post-communist, and most of all postmodern. I am from Hungary. For this reason, all three previously mentioned words apply to my situation as I prepared for ministry to Hungary and Europe. We have a major problem with people reading their Bibles or the lack of it. It became nothing more as literature. That is how they taught us regaring this book in elementary and high school. However, as we learned literature analysis we (Hungarians) know many of the needed devices of Inductive Bible Study methods to read a Bible. When I came to study in the US, it took me a few years to figure out this advantage in my IBS classes. However, when I pieced the puzzles together with the new framework of applying that methodology to the Bible, I was blown away regarding the depth of the meaning of Scriptures from both testaments as a unity of one entire book. So, IBS helped me to dive into the culture of the people. It shaped my understanding of just reading the Bible from getting something out of to getting to know the Triune God on a personal level through the hosts of saints on the pages of this great Book.

    All for now,
    Viktor Rózsa

    • Victor,
      Thank you for sharing your story – appreciated. I’d be delighted to dialogue with you. I’m available via e-mail or Skype. What would work for you?
      Every blessing!
      Warmly in Jesus,
      Lawson

      • Dr. Murray,

        I apologize for the delay in my response. We have been fundraising to go to Hungary and serve there with One Mission Society. This is the first time I get to sit down in between working nights at UPS, having another child in 5 weeks, and traveling throughout the US to share anout Hungary.

        To answer your question about connecting, I could do either one of those.

        e-mail : vkrozsa@hotmail.com
        skype : termosbp79

        I am open to talking to you about this topic and share further information as where I stand with IBS and how it can be utulized in ministry.

        Many blessings on you,
        Viktor

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