I was teaching at Wheaton College this past Thursday. During my time, I stopped by a bookstore owned by Richard Owen Roberts. It houses some 300,000 books. Mr. Roberts told me that he has 2,500 volumes on the book of Revelation. He keeps those in the basement. He told me that he laughs when he goes down there. Those books contradict one another and they remind Mr. Roberts of man’s presumption. “Amen,” Mr. Roberts!
My favorite way to meditate/study the Bible is simple.
Read and reflect several times on the particular book of the Bible.
Take out a legal pad.
Grab a cool pen.
Bombard the text with questions, connections, musings, etc.
Put my most significant thoughts in my two study Bibles. One for each one of my sons when I kick the proverbial bucket.
Meditate throughout the day on at least one overall lesson. Possibly meditate and then commit to memory a verse or two.
Be well prepared, be courageous, be clear, and stay calm. Short, but great example here:
I just finished a terrific new biography on George Whitefield. I will soon be posting my interview with the author and Baylor history professor, Thomas Kidd.
It is interesting to note that both George Whitefield and Daniel Defoe commented on how active the Scots were in church with rustling the pages of their Bibles. Ah to hear that sound again!
Many have begun new Bible reading programs where the goal is to get through all of it. It is a great idea and one I’ve done in various ways for many years. In fact, I sometimes read large sections of Scripture at a very fast rate: one minute or so per chapter. I do this to keep the basic flow before me.
On the other side of the spectrum is slowing way down to consider all that is in a phrase or verse. I do this on a regular basis. In fact, many of my memorized verses are first meditation verses. Ps. 119:83 is a recent example. If you look that verse up please know it is not a typo. There are some wonderful things to ponder in that verse.
So make sure that there is time for plenty of Bible mediation in your Bible reading!
“There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.”
Brian McLaren is a clever and capable guy. He seems reasonable. He has an almost avuncular disposition which draws people in to consider what he has to say.
Unfortunately, Brian seems bent on speculating and is content to discard what the church has believed over its many years. Notice how effortlessly he asks us to forget about how an important passage has been understood by most people and “step back from the traditional interpretation.”
Brian may want us to appreciate the scandal of the cross, but tragically his speculation undermines the stumbling block of Jesus. Yes, Jesus calls us to love the “other,” but we are not free to make up what that looks like. Staying tethered to what has been handed down through the centuries (what tradition is) is what gives us our marching orders.
Speculation rather than God’s revelation may seem sexy, but it is emblematic of our culture’s ethos and not the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
At Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School I sat through many classes where we sought to “understand the Bible.” For all their worth, there was one huge assumption which was consistently made: our own walks with God made no real difference in how well we understood Scripture. All that was needed to understand Scripture were the tools like observing the text carefully.
In Christopher Hall’s wonderful book, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, it is clear that the earliest Christian interpreters of Scripture believed one’s walk with God directly influenced how well they understood God’ Word.
Currently, I am leading a few reading groups of friends through some of the great works of Christianity. We are now reading Imitation of Christ by Kempis. Kempis said, “In silence and peace a devout soul makes progress and learns the secrets of the scriptures.”
Eugene Peterson writes, “The most important question we ask of the this text is not, ‘What does this mean?’ but ‘What can I obey?’ A simple act of obedience will open up our lives to this text far more quickly than any number of Bible studies and dictionaries and concordances.”
(I am grateful to www.bensonian.org for bringing my attention to this last quote by Eugene Peterson in Eat This Book, p. 71)