Friday, September 28, 2012

You can't read the Bible like any other book...?

I recently took some holidays.
One of the projects I set myself was to re-read my favourite novel, David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest". I wanted to get a better grasp on the novel, and test out some theories about what DFW was up to.
So I committed to taking notes. Nothing too onerous. I set out to list the order of scenes, and to map the chronology of scenes. I also noted references to language and speech (testing a theory about the influence of James Incandenza), and also attempted to diagram what Enfield Tennis Acadamy looked like. (given references to the lung and the brain).
Anyway, just paying this close attention to the book meant all sorts of interesting things turned up in the first 30 or so pages. All sorts of interesting links and themes and clues. I loved it. I got so much more out of those 30 pages. But then I gave up. Mostly because when I was too tired to take notes, or couldn't, or didn't have my notebook, I didn't read. So 30 pages was all I got through.
Instead I picked up the 'Hunger Games' series and knocked one over each afternoon for three afternoons. Now, admittedly, they are an easier read. But it got me thinking...

Has our approach to 'Bible Study' made us people who can't read the Bible.

That is, because we move so slowly through the Bible, trying to milk every last drop, does it put us off actually reading the thing. 

So spurred by these thoughts, and by some stuff from 'Cor Deo', our young adults group is trying something different.

We are just going to read the Bible because we love it, and love God. We aren't going to set aside a disciplined time for reading. You don't do that with a book you love, you pick it up whenever you get a chance. We aren't going to set the number of chapters you 'must' read each day, we are just going to read it because we love it. As we read, we will highlight the bits we like, and then share those together when we meet. We won't labour through any passages. After sharing the bible bits, we will talk about it together, and how we think we need to respond
 We have set a provisional goal, the whole thing in 4 months, and so a provisional target of about 40 chapters a week. As one of our ladies said ' yeah then people can read more if they want to'.
The idea then, is that you could get through the whole bible three times a year. You may miss some things as you whizz through the first time, but the second? third? fiftieth time? My hunch is you will know and love the Lord and his word a whole lot better than our plodding method

I'll let you know how it goes


Alison said...

A couple of years ago, I asked a friend to read the bible with me and she was up for it. We started working through Mark. After about three meet-ups she asked if we could stop. It had got her thinking about a whole lot of stuff and she'd decided to be an agnostic.

But then recently she became a Christian recently. Upon the recommendation of another friend she has been devouring the bible - She read through John, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, Jonah, parts of Genesis and half of Matthew in a couple of months. Somewhere around John, Acts and Romans she decided that Christianity was right after all!

When I asked her why she didn't engage the first time we read the bible she said (apologetically!) that it was way too boring. We were going so slowly that it didn't make sense. This time around she has "read it like a book" (her actual words) and this time around she found Jesus!

Mike W said...

Thanks Alison, that is very encouraging! Hooray for your friend!

I have a couple of hunches about doing it this way.
Like you say, I think it might be more accessible to people who aren't believers. We just read it and talk about it.
My other hunch is that it may be easier to reproduce the group. You don't have to have mad bible study leading skills to get a bunch of people together and talk about what you have read.