On not wanting to get involved with the God of the Bible

Spiritual theologian Eugene Peterson:

It is entirely possible to come to the Bible in total sincerity, responding to the intellectual challenge it gives, or for the moral guidance it offers, or for the spiritual uplift it provides, and not in any way have to deal with a personally revealing God who has personal designs on you.

Or to put it in the terms in which we started out: It is possible to read the Bible from a number of different angles and for various purposes without dealing with God as God has revealed himself, without setting ourselves under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who is alive and present in everything we are and do.

To put it bluntly, not everyone who gets interested in the Bible and even gets excited about the Bible wants to get involved with God.

But God is what the book is about. C. S. Lewis, in the last book he wrote, talked about two kinds of reading, the reading in which we use the book for our own purposes and the reading in which we receive the author’s purposes. The first ensures only bad reading; the second opens the possibility to good reading:

When we “receive” it we exert our senses and imagination and various other powers according to a pattern invented by the artist. When we “use” it we treat it as assistance for our own activities . . . . “Using” is inferior to “reception” because art, if used rather than received, merely facilitates, brightens, relieves or palliates our life, and does not add to it.

That is why an awareness of what the church has formulated as the Holy Trinity is so important as we come to this book, the Bible. We read in order to get in on the revelation of God, who is so emphatically personal; we read the Bible the way it comes to us, not in the way we come to it; we submit ourselves to the various and complementary operations of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; we receive these words so that we can be formed now and for eternity to the glory of God.

Eat This Book: A Conversation on the Art of Spiritual Reading (pp. 30-31)

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