Maybe one of today’s most deceptive Christian traps is illicit Bible reading methods. These methods are easy and common, but so seductive. Sadly, many have learned these methods through “Christian osmosis” and at times these ideas are taught. Almost all of us have probably used some, if not most of them at one time or another. However, these make for weak Christians, Christians who don’t have a solid foundation. That is why I’m sharing the below list of eight to help slow down this runaway “bad Bible reading method” train.
Frank Viola and George Barna wrote a book called “Pagan Christianity”, which is where this list came. I took the list verbatim from page 230. Now it should go without saying that just because I “quote”, “reference” or even “recommend” a book or a person, does not mean I agree with everything he/she says. I do recommend this book, not because I agree with everything nor do I think Frank and George got everything correct. However, this book is a challenging book, and the writers do push my presuppositions, and I’m sure they will challenge you as well. So in that sense, I recommend the book for everyone!
Eight Wrong Methods To Read The Bible
- You look for verses that inspire you. Upon finding such verses, you either highlight, memorize, meditate upon, or put them on your refrigerator door.
- You look for verses that tell you what God has promised so that you can confess it in faith and thereby obligate the Lord to do what you want.
- You look for verses that tell you what God commands you to do.
- You look for verses that you can quote to scare the devil out of his wits or resist him in the hour of temptation.
- You look for verses that will prove your particular doctrine so that you can slice-and-dice your theological sparring partner in to biblical ribbons. (Because of the proof-texting method, a vast wasteland of Christianity behaves as if the mere citation of some random, decontextualized verse of Scripture ends all discussion on virtually any subject.)
- You look for verses in the Bible to control and/or correct others.
- You look for verses that “preach” well and make good sermon material. (This is an ongoing addiction for many who preach and teach.)
- You sometimes close your eyes, flip open the Bible randomly, stick your finger on a page, read what the text says, and then take what you have read as a personal “word” from the Lord.
Never Read A Bible Verse
There you be! Now with the knowledge of eight bad ways to read the Bible, how does one read it correctly? Well one of the most important principles in communication, and in our situation here, is context. This is why each of the above eight bad methods failed miserably. So remember this motto: “never read a Bible verse.” No, this is not saying “don’t read your Bible”, rather it encourages you to read a paragraph, chapter or even book of the Bible! Listen to concepts as a whole and in context with a proper understanding of the culture, words and what is happening in that environment during the time it was written.
Chapters and verses are new to the Bible, an addition only hundreds of years old. They are artificial barriers of context. So here is one idea, when you read the Scriptures, mentally remove the verse and chapter markers. If that is hard, there are some Bible editions sans chapter and verse markers so you can get to the text without distraction.
Toss out the buffet Bible reading methods, but rather adapt the idea of “never reading a Bible verse.” Easier and seductive is not better here, sloppiness does not lend toward truth, rather accuracy and understanding promote the truth and a proper Christian Worldview.
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What other bad “Bible reading methods” do you know about? What methods do you use that help you become a more accurate Bible reader?
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