Over the weekend I listened to the second messages in James Jordan’s series on Reading the Bible. He made some really good points against your average “How to Read the Bible” books and helped me to understand more how we can do a better job of understanding the Bible and how it should be applied to our lives. Most books tend to give something similar to a list of rules or steps that you have to follow in order to correctly understand the Bible. Some of these steps are more like theological lenses that you are expected to look through in order to “understand” what the Bible “really means.” These lenses come in both reformed and dispensational sizes.
One of the problems that is close to common sense once you think about it is that we probably should quit reading books on how to read the Bible and just read the Bible. As moderns we tend to look at lots of things in the Bible through our modern lenses and miss what is being said. We can then debate to an extent that I as the reader always bring baggage to the text that will color how I look at the text. This would be greatly helped if we read the Bible more. We tend to think that it would have been better if God would have expressed truth in a different way (what are all those priestly laws in the Pentateuch about anyway). The problem is that God expressed truth in His way (read best way) and our thinking is wrong. By reading the Bible more we will learn to think like God thinks. We will know why God spent all the time on rituals in the Pentateuch.
One minor example Jordan gives is in Psalm 93:1 where the ideas are presented as parallel that the Lord is clothed with majesty and strength along with the concept that the world is firmly established. We look at that and can understand what the Psalmist is saying but we know that we would never talk that way. The problem is that we don’t think that way. We have to decide how the way we would express the truth of God’s reign relates to how God chose in Psalm 93 to say the same thing. The best option seems to be that the way we think and talk and express ourselves should be governed by the examples in the Bible so that I may be conformed to the image of the Word. This can only happen if we are reading the Bible regularly and lots so that we can be changed to think like the Bible instead of trying to change the meaning of the Bible to think like us.