Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fragmented Scripture

A couple posts ago I mentioned that I have been learning alot about how to read the Bible. It sounds like such a simple thing...and it is! It should be anyway. It is a narrative; a complete script. While at family camp a couple weeks ago Thad's brother, Kyle who is a biblical scholar, was our speaker for the week. He brought to our attention a few ways that our culture seems to take away the simplicity of reading this narrative by the way we fragment it. He said that if we allow the Bible to be fragmented, it will become part of our narrative, but not be shaping us as it should be. It is not supposed to be about us, it is about HIM!

Many of us have been a part of churches, ministries, denominations, traditions, or groups that have taught us to fragment scripture with out knowing that we were really taking away from its original context. That is why I think this is such an important topic. This is the most relevent and important series of books that we will read in our entire lifetime and we tend to break it up so much that we are missing the point. Here are a list of ways we fragment scripture. I am sure there are many more we are all guilty of, but here are my notes on a few he brought to our attention.

1-Morsels/nuggets of truth- There are individual statements of truth that need to be applied when necessary.
ex. Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."- This is an excellent verse about proclaiming the gospel in all circumstances...but has also been used so often as a slogan or back of the t-shirt for athletic groups. It is sometimes advertised in ways that it was not intended to be.

2-Promises/Blessings- If we look at the Bible as just a book of promises we fragment it and tend to read out of context, and when we do that our faith tends to be a bit lopsided.
ex. 2 Tim. 2:12- There is two parts to this verse. Sometimes we might unintentionally read only the part that we like (the promise), and then forget about the rest, or think it is not as important.
other examples- Jer. 29:11, Psalm 23, Heb. 13:15. Read it as a whole!

3-Mirrors/Inkblots-A psychological inkblot test: what we see in the inkblots applies to what is going on in our lives.
-We tend to make Jesus who we want Him to be. Hum...that sounds so silly doesn't it?! But how often do we ask the question "What did you get out of this?"-sounds kind of selfish doesn't it? When we do this we miss who Jesus really is. Maybe we should get out of it whatever Jesus tells us. :)

4-Short-cut reading- Sometimes when we read scripture we are influenced by doctrine. Then when we go to read the bible we try to fit the passage into our doctrine. Read Matthew on Matthew's terms, not Luther's or Calvin's. We have to remember that many books we read by Bible experts, theologans, etc. are just interpretations, it is not the whole picture. We seem to rely on these so much in our culture.
-We also talked about how we tend to underline parts of the bible and then when we go back to read it we cheat and read only the underlined part thinking that is of utmost importance. Fragmenting! I am so guilty of this...

This week of listening to Kyle was so educational for me. I grew up not realizing that I have been guilty of fragmenting scripture so much. The sad thing is, and I am not blaming anything or anyone, that I have been taught and encouraged to do so. I don't think any one Christian does this intentionally, so that is why I think it is so important to be aware of this while reading scripture. I am now so excited to read my Bible with a new mindset and awareness of these issues. There were many other parts of family camp that I would like to reflect on, so stay tuned for more posts on this topic.


Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

thank you, Stephanie!! i'm guilty of underlining and then only reading that part later when i come back to it.
i agree with you. and you have made me think about how i read and study scripture.
the Bible is a love story,a mystery, a nonfiction that God has so graciously given to us so that we may come to know Him better.

so happy Bible reading to you!!!

Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

Hi stepanie.... it's me again.

i was thinking about your post last night. and thinking about what i commented.

i just wanted to add, that i also believe God can use those "fragmented" scriptures to teach us. When we grab up our Bible in a time of frustration or anger or sorrow, He sometimes points us to just the right verse (alot of times, one that we've underlined already) to speak to our hearts.

so even though i agree with your post, i think that as long as we are seeking Him and reading His word, we are doing the right thing!

Have a great day!

STEPHANIE. said...

Right, I totally believe that He could lead you to parts in the Bible to speak to your heart, but I also believe that when he leads us to that spot that we need to make sure that we still read that underlined part as a whole, in context, how it was intended to fit into the book otherwise we are just making scripture what we want it to be. Does that make sense? thanks for your comments. :)

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