Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The problem of Bible reading

"I did what you are doing (reading the Bible) ...and worked out after only a few pages that God was an angry petulant toddler who changed his mind every 12 seconds, couldn't be trusted and had a penchant for infanticide. At that point I decided I didn't want to believe in someone so horrid, and that in all likelihood he was made up by an equally horrid bloke. And if you do manage to stick with it he doesn't get any better either!" - Facebook comment

One of the challenges Christians face is not so much that people are not reading the Bible, but that people are.

Many people who do not like the Christian faith are loaded with verses and can recite parts of the Bible as evidence of reasons to reject, oppose and mock the God of the Bible. 

I have to confess when I read through the Bible I hit some very difficult passages that caused me to stop in my tracks and gasp in disbelief. As a pastor I am looking to do the following...

1. Read the Bible

Christians always look silly when someone rejects their God on parts of His book that they have never even read. I want to read the Bible and know it well for multiple reasons and this is one of them.

2. Face challenges honestly

There are challenges with the Bible. There are parts that I don't understand and I find parts difficult. I think we do well to own up and face the tough questions. We just have to be honest about this. 

3. Encourage good reading

I smiled when a pastor recommended, 'how to read a book' to help with Bible reading. The Bible is a book. It has it's own genres and sections. I hope as a pastor I can encourage people to read it and receive it with integrity. I hope people will at least reject it as it is written and not as it is not written! Poetry, history and instruction all feature in the Bible. We don't want to mix these up...

4. Study history well

I want to study well and be able to offer some historical context of scripture. The Bible was written in certain times and spaces and always addressed specific issues. Without understanding why it was written and what was going on we will never 'get it'. This is true of all books. 

5. Think hard

As I hit different questions and tough comments I want to 'own' the questions and think hard. I do not want to disconnect, I do not want to deny and I do not want to duck. This takes listening, time, effort and hard work. If our faith cannot cope with honest and real questions then it is probably not worth all that much to anyone.

6. Review our ministries

Over time I want my preaching and teaching ministry to be something that is actually helps people and offers something with the questions we all have. It's all very well quoting nice verses about Jesus but we all have deeper, more difficult questions and we owe it to ourselves and the people we serve to take them on from time to time. 

1 comment: