Monday, December 26, 2005

The Jesus Creed

I started Scot McKnight's delightful little book Jesus Creed over the weekend. I got a pre-release copy from him way back in June 2004 and finally getting around to reading it.

I especially like this quote, from Chapter 18 (italics his):

"A concrete suggestion to aid us in preparing for eternal fellowship with Abba: we need to read the Bible Abba-centrically, or "Father-centered." Christians sometimes read the Bible too often to "figure things out," to come to terms with a theological debate, or to settle an old score. They read it for information.

"But, as M. Robert Mulholland explains in his very important book, Shaped by the Word, in reading the Bible for knowledge we can (and often do) miss the mission: for Abba to love us and for us to love Abba. When we let Abba speak to us through the Bible, we come to know him (and not just about him) and our reading moves from communication from God to communion with God, from 'information to formation,' from learning about love to learning to love."

He continues, almost Kirkegaardianly:

"My suggestion is simple: Put away study aids, commentaries, Bible Study Group materials: get out a piece of paper and a pen, and write down what we learn about God in a passage of scripture. Just what we learn about our Abba. We read, we meditate and we pray...There is no substitute for reading the Bible in order to hear from God."

<idle musing>
Not to disparage the use of tools to understand the biblical text better, but there is definitely a time to put away the tools and listen. Listen for God, commune with Him, follow the path of the mystics. Not an easy task in our fast-paced world with always-on-Internet, radio, TV, ipods, etc.

Perhaps as scholars we are asking the wrong questions of the text. Instead of judging the text, perhaps it would be better to let the text judge us. Of course, that's scary...I might not—no, I will not—measure up. I will be forced to rely on grace instead of my knowledge of the original languages and cultural background. I will be face-to-face without the comfort of my tools and training. But God is calling us, as he did Augustine, "Tolle, lege. Tolle, lege." "Pick it up, read it. Pick it up, read it."

Just a post-Christmas musing on too little sleep. Our son and friends arrived at 5:00 this morning after driving all night from Minnesota and we talked until 7:00, so I'm running on about 3-3.5 hours of sleep...everybody else is still sleeping.
</idle musing>

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