Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Reading the Word

Scott McKnight (The Jesus Creed) quotes M. Robert Mulholland Jr (Shaped by the Word) to make a helpful distinction between two approaches to reading the Bible: informational, and formational.

The difference has to do with how we read the Bible and why we read the Bible. Either we read the Bible informationally (to learn more) or we read the Bible formationally (to be changed). Robert Mulholland provides a set of comparisons of the two kinds of bible reading that can provide for us a checklist of what we do when we open the Bible.

In Informational reading we:

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

In Formational reading we:

Cover what we need to
Read for depth, perhaps only a word
Have a goal of being mastered by the text
Treat ourselves as the object of the text
Read receptively
Are open to mystery

His suggestions to read formationally push us away from the desire to know and shift us towards the yearning to become.

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