How Should We Read the Bible?

Reading scripture is one of the most important disciplines of the Christian life. Robert Mulholland, Jr. has written extensively about two different approaches to reading scripture. The first is reading is “informational”; that is, we read scripture to learn more — about God, ourselves, sin, forgiveness, etc. For most of my life, this has been my approach to reading scripture. But Mulholland encourages a “formational” reading as well; this is reading scripture in order to be changed. Mulholland argues that the Christian experience with regard to scripture should incorporate both readings equally.

Informational reading:

  • Cover as much text as possible
  • Read line after line
  • Have a goal of mastering the text
  • Treat the text as an “object”
  • Read analytically
  • Solve problems

Formational reading:

  • Cover as much of the text as we need to
  • Read for depth, perhaps only a word or two
  • Have a goal of being mastered by the text
  • Treat ourselves as the object of the text
  • Read receptively
  • Open to the mystery of God

(taken from Scot McKnight’s “The Jesus Creed”, pp195-96)

As we read God’s Word, may we continue to read for information. This is how we love the Lord our God with all our mind (Mark 12.30). But may we also read receptively, allowing the text to master us and transform us more fully into the likeness of Christ; this is how we love God will all our heart (Mark 12.30).

This entry was posted in Deuteronomy 6 (The Shema), Faith, Scripture, The Jesus Creed and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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