In Shaped by the Word, Robert Mulholland presents a new way to read Scripture that helps us better listen for the voice of God, move from informational to formational reading, and give up our control over the text so that God directs our reading and reflection. Shaped by the Word is one of my top ten must read Bible Engagement books. Here are some taster quotes:
The Word of God is the action of the presence, the purpose, and the power of God in the midst of human life.
Not only is there the dynamic of God’s inspiration in the writing of the scripture; there is also the dynamic of God’s inspiration in our reading of the scripture.
Scripture is not only a place where we find ourselves encountered by God, but a place where God probes the nature of our relationships with one another.
We must open ourselves before Scripture receptively. We must listen. We must be ready to respond. When we approach the scripture in this manner, we find ourselves drawn into that life where our “word” begins to resonate with the Word.
Not only does Scripture liberate us from the bondage of our perceptual frameworks, but at the same time it develops and nurtures within us a transformed and ever-expanding perceptual dynamic of wholeness wherein we find fullness of life in the three primal relationships with God, with self, with others.
If the scripture functions iconographically in our lives, if it can become a window through which we find ourselves drawn into God’s new order of being in Christ, then this insight may call for the deepest perceptual shift of all.
In a profound sense, the Word of God is a living and productive scalpel in the loving hands of One who penetrates to the core of our being in order to cleanse and heal our garbled, distorted, debased word and transform it into the word God speaks us forth to be in the world.
When we come to the scripture, part of our perplexity comes from the fact that we encounter something that takes us beyond ourselves, beyond the prevailing values and perspectives of our culture, even beyond the religious structures and practices of our faith.
Transformation occurs when scripture is viewed as a place of encounter with God that is approached by yielding the false self and its agenda, by opening one’s self unconditionally to God, and by a hunger to respond in love to whatever God desires.
The informational, functional, doing modes of approaching scripture inherently insulate us and protect us from the kind of awareness and disclosure the Word brings to us.
We must offer our discipline of spiritual reading to God with no strings attached, no demands, no limits, no expectations. We must offer it to God for God’s purposes, allowing it to become a means of God’s grace to transform our being.
Our encounter with the Word, our address by God, must be carried into the details of our daily lives.
© Scripture Union Canada 2016