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Saving the Bible From Ourselves

In the recently published, Saving the Bible from Ourselves, the author, Glenn R. Paauw, observes how the Bible has “fallen” and needs to be “saved”. To this end he constructs a model for discovering (or rediscovering) Bible engagement in the context of the Christian community. In so doing, he argues for a new form of Bible reading – one that majors on “big readings” as opposed to “small” or “fragmented readings”.

At its core, the book asks two key questions: “What is the Bible?” and, “What are we supposed to do with it?” In the course of answering these questions Paauw proposes an intervention. The intervention is the recovery/reconstruction of seven new understandings to renewed engagement with the Bible.

It’s a book well worth reading. Here are some introductory primers that will hopefully entice your interest …

We might be swimming in millions of Bibles, but we are not a Scripture-soaked society.

You may have heard that the Bible is the bestselling book of all time. And that’s true … But the researchers have been telling us for some time that the knowledge base isn’t there. Regardless of the number of times we’ve rolled the Bible presses, the words on the page are not common currency.

We are also assured that … the Bible will brighten our day, encourage us and strengthen us, if only we will faithfully open it … And yet. We know there is more to this story than the official line … This is the story of frustration, boredom and lack of connection. This is the story of failed expectations … that it doesn’t work.

We commit to a daily “quiet time,” but after a while we give up. We read our little spiritual morsel and discover it doesn’t nourish us all that much, and certainly not enough to carry us through the day. Actually, we kind of forget it pretty quickly.

For far too many folks there is a hoped-for-but-as-yet-undiscovered spiritual meal in the Bible. After too long a wait they begin to doubt there is any real food there at all.

One of the core reasons for our Bible engagement breakdown is that so many would-be Bible readers have been sold the mistaken notion that the Bible is a look-it-up-and-find-the-answer handy guide to life.

Superficial use of the Scriptures is actually destructive because those who practice it operate under the illusion that they are engaging the Bible when they are not.

I believe the journey to the Bible’s redemption – just like our own – lies in incarnational recovery. Just as we require a holistic salvation that includes our bodies, so the Bible needs a restoration that includes its physical form.

The Bible needs to be saved because of what it has not become. It has not become a collection of books we know, the narrative we stew in, the words that form us.

The Bible needs saving, not because of any defect in itself, but because we’ve buried it, boxed it in, wallpapered over it, neutered it, distorted it, isolated it, individualized it, minimized it, misread it, lied about it, debased it and oversold it.

The Bible needs a slower, smarter, deeper engagement … eating good meals rather than speed snacking on what Philip Yancey calls Scripture McNuggets.

The Bible is achieving its purpose – when we realize that this ancient tribal tale has somehow become our center.

The beginning of good Bible engagement is a bit of reflection on what it means to be a virtuous reader in general …

© Scripture Union Canada 2016

2 Corinthians 4:5

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