Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Faith Helps: Reading Short Passages

I talked yesterday about how it is a big help to one's faith to read large chunks of scripture. Today I'm suggesting the exact opposite. Isn't that fun? I think it is. You get a blog, and you can be completely capricious, just like me.

Actually, these ideas aren't in contradistinction to one another. They complement one another. It is a good idea to get a broad view of one's object of study, and it is a good idea to acquire intricate knowledge of it. It will greatly help a surgeon to have a general idea of the body's workings, and it will greatly help them to know the minute details of kidneys and lungs and other such things. The surgeon who has a general knowledge of things will be of little help to his patients. "Well, son, I'm quite sure that the body works as a homogeneous unit, and I know that the leg bone is connected to the foot bone" and so on will do little to instill courage in a patient's heart. On the other hand, it will be of little good to a patient to see a doctor for an arm problem when he knows only about the foot. In the same way, a Christian needs broad knowledge of the Bible to fit its parts in the correct places, to understand the broad theology of the Bible, and the way that the Testaments work together. But he also needs localized knowledge of certain passages in order to parse the meaning of individual Scriptures. Both work hand in hand.

In your devotional life, then, devote some months to the reading of large chunks of Scripture and others to the reading of short passages. In this way you will help your faith as you come to understand the Bible as one fluid story and also as a collection of all kinds of precious and detailed doctrines. Practically, large-scale knowledge will come to your mind throughout the day and remind you of the general narrative of Scripture. This will enliven, challenge, and help you fit your story into Scripture's. Small-scale knowledge will come to your mind throughout the day and remind you of precise truths that fit into your day. In your walk, then, Christian, mix in Scripture reading of both types, and watch your faith expand, fill out, and grow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alternatively, you could read God's Big Picture, a fantas-great book explaining the whole redemptive history of the Bible. It doesn't replace the Bible study you talk about, but it's a great "bootstrap" if you don't have a whole lot of background.

9:42 PM  

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