David Ker over at Lingamish has written a witty and insightful post about reading the Bible in its proper context. I would encourage you to read the whole thing, but here are a few choice morsels to savor...
- The Bible isn't a fortune cookie that you can crack open and get out a pithy little message that's going to help you through the day. Instead it is a collection of books, poems, histories, tragedies and more and if you want to "apply it to your life" you've first got to consider how that particular message was meant to apply to someone else's life. That's right, the Bible wasn't written to you. It was written to the people of Israel, and Philemon, and Theophilus and the church at Corinth. But that ain't you. So you're reading someone else's mail. Or listening in on one half of a phone conversation.
- The Bible isn't meant to be treated like a bag of "trail mix" where you fish out all the sweet parts that you like and leave the rest. There are treasures in "the Book" but only if you're willing to receive the message in the way it was intended.
- God has preserved these messages over many centuries and brought it into your language. It is worth the trouble to understand his message on his terms. Its not a grab bag of moralisms, sound bites or bumper-sticker sayings. The Bible means something but not necessarily what you think it does. The truth is there, but truth taken out of context is destroyed or can be turned into a lie. Read it in the original packaging.
He ends with these important words: "The Bible wasn't written to you, but it was written for you. Read it the right way and you'll hear the voice of God."