Bible: More than a Category

So tonight was an interesting night. Donald Miller (author of Blue like Jazz) was at Tyndale tonight and he spoke. After we had our small group with a few new additions. All went well, and then after small group Nathan came out and then we started talking. No better subject than talking about the Bible, it gives me content to write about on here.

But first to respond to Joe’s comment, he disagreed on my last post, so I like to respond to comments.

“i disagree. nothing could be more demeaning than to classify the bible as a texbook. in doing so, it is robbed of it’s true essence. textbooks are about questions and answers. the scriptures are about revealing God. and to take it a step further, none of us ‘read the scriptures’…the scriptures ‘read us’. think about that…”

In response to the above of what Joe said, I don’t think it is that demeaning to classify the Bible as a textbook. I think that it might be restrictive though. To classify the bible as only a textbook, then yes of course, it’s not a textbook, it’s the bible. But I think what I mean by classifying the bible as a textbook I mean it helps us understand something, that something being God. It helps us understand his history, his relationships, his interaction with humankind, his redemption and his love. And yes, it does have answers but the point of the book isn’t about the answers, it’s about the questions and the information it reveals about the subject. The bible for me at least does not give me as many answers (maybe I haven’t found my way to them yet) as it brings up more questions.

McLaren also talks about the scriptures reading us, it was a really good point and really interesting, I just don’t get where it comes from? It sounds great and all, and is very tempting almost, yet I don’t get it really. What I do get though is how we can let the bible teach us about ourselves even, because it’s our history wrapped up into it also, but maybe if we could define what we mean by the bible reading us.

Anyway, back to tonight, Donald Miller talks about how we as a postmodern generation are always asking the question why. Why we are ‘why’ generation. Yet, the modern church reads the bible as a ‘how’ book. He says that we need to show them the why questions in the book and stop focusing on the how’s because our generation now doesn’t care. I thought there was a lot of truth in these statements. Yet for some reason, i have a hard time classifying the bible as a book that just answers questions. Why do we have to look at the bible as a ‘how’ or ‘why’ book? Why doesn’t it have to be a any-kind-of question book.

We started talking about this tonight and it started to get pretty interesting. Of course I pull out my skeptical questions trying to bring out new answers and new ways of looking at things and I think I just got more confused. This whole Bible issue is really starting to get to me, and it’s more starting to get to me after I talk to people about it. The only option I seem to be getting to is accepting it by faith. So is that what happens, when you can’t find any answers then faith is just the final straw?

I was challenging the way we read the bible and how we read into it. We read it as a rule book, or an encyclopedia and all these other things listed below, and is that ok? I was saying that we should only read the bible through the filter of the purpose it was written for. Everyone agreed yet Nathan was on to something I think. He started talking about how the Bible is more than just this or just that. For me to say that the bible is a story book and that’s how we read it, does that derive it of having answers and thus being an answer book?

This really started me thinking. Maybe all these posts about the bible not being a rule book or the bible not being an answer book are kind of naive. Why do I find a need to put the bible into a category or classify it as a certain something? I was starting to come to a conclusion of what the bible was, and to be honest I had one in mind since I started these posts, but I’m starting to question it. It’s hard for me now to classify it as one specific thing. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, but if it’s not then that makes it a lot harder for me to read. If I don’t know why it was written it, then I don’t know how to read it. Yet maybe that’s where Joe and McLaren’s point comes in, maybe the point of reading it isn’t so we can necessarily read it but it’s supposed to read you.

8 thoughts on “Bible: More than a Category”

  1. the problem with looking at the bible like that, as little inspirational tidbits meant to give us direction, is that it fails to take the purpose of the bible seriously. The best word to describe the bible is Metanarrative. that means that the bible is a story meant to teach us what the world is, where it came from, what made it all screwed up, what the effects of that are, what we are called to do about it and what God has promised to do about it. We must live within the parameters of that understanding, that the bible gives us the map for life and the explaination of the world from creation through the fall and into redemption. so catagorize it but if you’re going to do that call it a story or a metanarrative. peace

  2. See Nick, I’m glad you say that, because that’s the conclusion I’m eventually getting to, I’m kinda following McLaren’s flow of thought here and that’s what he concludes.
    The only problem with someone like you saying that, is I don’t understand where systematic theologies about God fit into a metanarrative?
    Where does TULIP come from in a story? Or eternal security and all those things, if the purpose is to give us a story and not theologies (boxes in which we place God to try to understand him) then I think these theologies lose a lot of weight.

  3. Somebody needs to explain this whole “Bible reading you” concept, because it makes no sense to me. Where’s the Biblical foundation behind that claim?

  4. the bible reading you is a load of postmodern bullshit, ive never heard anything so self centered and existentialist. how can this mclaren chap think that the point of the bible is focused on just us. hes a whack job unless somebody can prove me otherwise

  5. In what I’m saying, I’m not trying to make it sound like its about us. I’m trying to restore the truth that It’s all about God.
    Think about it, here we are, trying to decide whether the bible should read us or if we should read it. What does that even mean?
    In my saying the bible reads us, I’m simply saying, that we need to stop trying to read the bible as if we understand all of these huge spiritual issues, and focus in on what God might be trying to teach you. Not because it’s about us, but because it’s about God, so we should hear what he’s saying, and stop trying to speak for him.

  6. Kevin in the west

    I’m going to have to agree with my good ol’ reformed friend Nick on this one.
    While I admire your attempts to examine what exactly the Bible is and how it affects our lives, I don’t believe that we have the right to put the Bible in a box and label it as a textbook or encyclopedia etc. By doing so, we are belittling God and his word.
    The last I checked, it’s the Bible that tells me what it is and not some dude called Brian McClaren. Scripture can speak for itself, it always has, and it always will. Nuff said :)

  7. Ok, Looks like i’m creating some discussion. So let me put this out there for you.

    First I understand what nick’s saying, (the pomo bullshit stuff). The reason i responded to it, if you read it above, was because i’m trying to find out where the idea came from. Your guys comments don’t really try to attempt to answer that, you just say it’s wrong, which is fine, i almost believe you, but i want to know why it’s not or why it is.

    Secondly. In response to Kevin (in the west). You say that by trying to catagorize (which i wasn’t trying to do if you read it carefully i said i don’t really think that it does it justice) or belittle God and his word. I think though what i am trying to do is trying to figure out if that statement is even true. Is the bible even the WORD of GOD? Deem me as a heretic if you must, but i think that to understand that whole concept is still an extremly important theology to figure out.

    It’s hard for me to beleive that the bible tells me what it is. So does the Koran and other religion’s scriptures, but that for me isn’t enough proof, so neither is this.

    It’s impossible i find though to put the bible outside of a catagory. It seems right now you look at it as in the catagory of being God’s Word, or in the catagory of a book that speaks for itself. All these are catagories. We need to somewhat try and understand it and not just pass it off as God’s word and never question it or wonder.

  8. I’m not as educated as your university friends, and your author friends, haha, but here’s what I get.
    When I read McClarens chapter on letting the bible read us, this is how I took it.
    Say you go to some kind of fortune teller or something, and they were going to tell you about yourself. They sit there an stare at you and scratch their chin, and then after a few moments, they pipe up and start telling you about yourself, and what you’re going to be doing with your life.
    Sometimes we like to come to the bible in this way. We read it and we ponder, and wrestle with certain verses, and then we like to come up with a final thought. We tell ourselves and tell others what The Bible means.
    Maybe it’d be more beneficial to us if we came to the bible understanding that it is our fortune telling so to speak. By that I just mean that we read it, and we humble ourselves, and it talks about how we all fall short of God’s glory (talking about me), how Christ came to redeem us (talking about me), that Jesus told everybody to go out and make disciples of all nations (talking about me).
    It also talks about how God will comfort those who are weary. Stuff like that, you can come across when you feel like crap, and you suddenly remember ‘hey I’m not alone’. God can speak to you through his words in the bible if we simply lay down our bible defining problem solving busy brains, and say “God, I am weary, I know that I fall short of your glory, yet here I am talking to you with confidence that you’re listening.” Because you’ve allowed the bible to ‘read you’ by opening yourself up to God through the words he spoke about you in his word.

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