Our Posture Toward God’s Word

We all have problems, and we want solutions. That’s why it’s so tempting to treat the Bible like a big book of answers. We just want to find the right verses and passages, because if we can find them then we’d never screw up and get embarrassingly drunk again, or we could win that argument about women in the church, or we could finally have a clear conscience about whether to get the couch or donate the money to charity.

In the Dark Side of Bible Reading Jeremy Berg writes of his concern for this approach. He’s worried that the self-absorption we bring to the study of Bible could be harmful.

Here’s an excerpt:

I am concerned about those who approach the text with their own issues and preoccupations already in mind and ask the Word to magically speak to those issues. I am irritated with an attitude (usually well-meaning and unintentional, by the way) that sounds like: “That’s a nice story Jesus, but can you please address my problem with __________?”…And a thousand other variations.

The hidden dark side of this posture toward God’s Word is that it reveals a deep-seated self-absorption that keeps us at the center of our universe and insists that God and His Word orbit our needs and serve our interests.

He goes on to offer what he calls a “different posture toward God’s Word”:

1. First, let’s humbly approach God’s Word as we would approach God himself. Let’s reverently bow in awe and listen intently to what he is actually saying to us.

2. Instead of “applying the Bible to our lives” (which again assumes we are the fixed center point and the Word is just a holy ointment to be applied to our souls) let’s instead try to “apply ourselves to the Bible.” Put narratively, let’s not let give God a convenient place within our own story; but rather find ourselves swept up in God’s much larger Story!

3. Instead of bringing all of our concerns to the text and forcing it to speak to them, let’s instead let God’s concerns invite us out of our (relatively) petty preoccupations and into the realm of heavenly realities. “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2)…

4. Finally, personal application must come only AFTER one has given God’s Word a fair hearing. Let God lead the conversation where He so desires. When we’re done letting God’s Word speak then we can ask the Spirit to give us a personal assignment in response to God’s challenge.

Read the entire Dark Side of Bible Reading post.

What do you think? Do you agree with Mr. Berg’s posture toward the Bible?

2 Responses to “Our Posture Toward God’s Word”

  • Jess says:

    I think that the idea of applying ourselves to the Bible is a great one. Personally, I really love Evelyn Christenson’s perspective – Lord Change Me! When our hearts cry is for God to work in us, then I think we will start looking more at His word with mature open eyes.

  • Amen. What a refreshing honest and simple view. Perhaps that’s because it’s the truth.