Saturday, December 24, 2011

Scriptures Revisited

One of you said the other day that they don't even read the Bible anymore . . . nor do I.  I do read our passages in church, but that is about it.

For the twenty years I sought to be a disciple, I read scriptures daily, usually for at least an hour. I believed . . . and was led to believe . . . that if I missed one day of reading, then God would be mad at me plus I would probably be in the ditch with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a hooker by the next day.  We were taught that the Bible is the bread of life, so miss it one day and you starve to death spiritually.

But I disagree with that. Sometimes I think it is even healthy to get away from scriptures, for a while.  The reason is, we can become so indoctrinated into what scriptures mean that what we are really doing is looking at words on a page and our minds are "reading" what we  have been told it means . . . if that makes sense.

I remember years ago when I was in the thick of Arabic school in Cairo.  It was the hardest think I had ever done. It was called "Intensive Arabic Studies" and it was.  My mind was so overloaded that I couldn't even remember English grammar anymore. So, the first year ended.  We ( my wife and our three small sons, ages 1-5) flew to Switzerland and lived in a pup tent for a month . . . because my wife and I were both near an emotional breakdown (things you can't say in a missionary news letter).  It was soooooooooo refreshing.  Backpacking down to the village below us once a week to buy groceries, then back up on the mountain.  I never gave Arabic one thought during that month.

It was the most amazing thing that when we landed back in Cairo, I came out of the airport, into the busy streets . . . and I could speak Arabic . . . for the first time. I wasn't fluent, but I could speak, put together sentences with proper syntax and conjugated verbs.

So, I actually think it is a good thing to get away from scriptures for awhile. But I feel poised to go back.  Our pastor asked for volunteers to read through the Bible in 90 days. I was tempted to sign up.  But, like Johan said, I am so busy right now. I'm still trying to get a business off the ground and keep itt afloat.  I did make a financial pledge to my new church and am failing that badly so I don't want to make a pledge to read the Bible in 90 days.

The thing is, I'm looking forward, now that my mind has been emptied from all the Evangelical socialization, to try and see what it really says.

I'm also poised to get back to my GERMFASK story, which I promised to finish. 


Anonymous said...


Johan said...

Again, I resonate with your words.
I come from a plymouth brethren background and have done a lot of bible reading (5 chapters each day) and bible study (hours each day) for years. My mind is filled with verses, quotations, and scriptural imagery. But knowing the bible does not bring life. Knowing the verses does not bring transformation.
I still read the bible - I try to read a chapter over breakfast, but sometimes a week goes by that I don't read at all. I've been in second Corinthians for over a month now! But I find that it doesn't matter, because I stew over what I read, and I find the verses coming up in what I talk about with friends and what I write about.
It's not about a schedule and making the reading of the bible a task to accomplish (as it was for me), it's about life. Just life - and the word of God as part of that, inspiring life, filling the mind, and bearing fruit. See? Another scriptural reference!

Thanks for your honesty, I hope you will continue holding up a mirror for me and others.


Anonymous said...

My mind is filled with verses, quotations, and scriptural imagery. But knowing the bible does not bring life. Knowing the verses does not bring transformation. -- Johan

In 1984 by George Orwell, this is called "duckspeak" -- reciting a Party Line without engaging any higher brain functions. And that sort of mandatory Bible study (compulsory verse memorization) can easily slip into duckspeak. (Ever run into a Real True Christian who speaks mostly by quoting verses? They exist. And usually come from such a background.)