the weblog of Alan Knox

Reading Scripture Together

Posted by on Aug 18, 2010 in blog links, scripture | 8 comments

Reading Scripture Together

Steven McKinion at “Gospel-Centered Living” has written a post called “Listening to Scripture.” While he maintains that studying Scripture is important, he also exhorts us to listen to Scripture.

He says:

In a day when everyone wants to do a Bible study what Christian communities really need is more Bible reading.

What’s the difference?

Bible study asks, “What does the text mean?”

Bible reading asks, “What does the text say?” Reading the Bible is listening to the Story. Were I to receive a note from my wife, I would not begin by parsing the language or questioning the context within which it was written. I would not ask, “What was in the mind of the author?” I would simply read. Read to enjoy the self-communication that is writing. I would not study the letter, I would read it.

There is a place for Bible study; a very important place. But study follows reading. Start at the beginning of the Book and read it simply to hear. No studying. No parsing. No cross-referencing. Just reading.

Several years ago, we decided to make public reading Scripture an important part of our church meetings. (By the way, see 1 Timothy 4:13.) Each week, we read at least a chapter of Scripture together, with usually two or three people reading. (We also teach through Scripture, but that is separate from our reading time.)

Also, a few times, we’ve met together only to read Scripture. We’ve read through the Gospels of Luke and John together in one sitting. I hope we do this again soon.

How about you? Is the public reading of Scripture important to you and the church that you meet with?


8 Comments

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  1. 8-18-2010

    I have to admit that I have a hard time reading Scripture without trying to study it. Not that study is a bad thing but I often find myself trying to interpret before I just listen to what it says.

  2. 8-19-2010

    Interesting. Of the various “denominations” I have attended in the past (living in a variety of small towns where there was usually little choice in such things – an experience for which I am now grateful) it was in the most “traditionally liturgical” ones, where every service (Sunday service, morning prayers, etc) always included at least three fairly long readings (Old Testament, gospel, epistle… usually not directly connected to the sermon), in which I most often heard the voice of Father Himself.

    Personally, for many years I “read through” the Bible once a year (in various versions, and even different languages)… just for the enjoyment and the “big picture” and for hearing from Father. In the past few years, though, I have listened to the voices of those who insisted that I should be STUDYING … and while, no doubt, my “knowledge” may have increased, I have at the same time been feeling an increasing loss of relationship with God in that process – and guilt for “getting behind” as it takes so much longer, and guilt for feeling overloaded.

    Thanks for your posting. I do believe I shall go back to reading-through-the-Bible – gasp, for pleasure! – while continuing to study whatever Father leads me to.

  3. 8-19-2010

    Norma,

    Reading Scripture is one good thing about most liturgical meetings.

    -Alan

  4. 8-20-2010

    Agreed! Now how do we choose what to read each week? Last week some friends and I gathered for our first home worship service. I volunteered to pick out the readings, and found myself most interested in following the Lectionary – how special to read the same words of God this day along with millions of other believers around the world? Also this gives us a check against simply choosing what we want to hear. But in my research I came across a few suggestions that the early Christians and the ancient Jews chose their readings at random. This seems wonderfully consistent with the way other decisions were made by Godly people (such as when the disciples in Acts chose Judas’s replacement by drawing straws). If we don’t hear from God any other way, leaving a decision to chance is in fact leaving it to God. I just don’t know to make our choice of Scripture truly random. I guess we could make a roulette wheel ;) I think we’ll stick to the Lectionary for now..

  5. 8-20-2010

    Chris,

    Is there a wrong way to choose and read Scripture? (Besides choosing to not read Scripture…) :)

    -Alan

  6. 8-21-2010

    One wrong way, as I suggested, is to pick just those verses that we like and understand. The lectionary forces us to “confront” scripture and read to each other passages that we may not like or comprehend, or just ones we’ve never heard. I think sometimes God wants us to come away from a reading completely baffled, because we are reminded of how feeble our minds are compared to his.

    I think your group’s practice of reading a whole book is a good check on this. But also I like the lectionary for giving us readings from different parts of the Bible – OT, Psalm, Epistle and gospel. That way each week we get a glimpse of how all scripture is related.

  7. 8-21-2010

    Chris,

    I think, if someone just read certain verses, I wouldn’t call that “reading Scripture.” The original post that I linked to talked about reading in order to “listen to the Story.” That would take reading large amounts of Scripture. That’s what I’m talking about here also.

    -Alan

  8. 8-21-2010

    I’m talking about reading large amounts of Scripture too. Even there we could be prone to just picking chapters we feel like reading or hearing. If Molly asks us to read Genesis 1 one Sunday, and Jim suggests Revelation 22 next week, and Jorge suggests the Beatitudes the week after.. All good stuff, but how will you ever get around to Leviticus 15? ;)

    How did you guys decide to read John?