One of the core ideas in our Reading Scripture class is that most readers already bring to the Bible nearly everything they need to know in order to read and make sense of the Bible. They might just not know what they already know!
Fundamentally, it’s not an issue of an inability to read and understand the Scriptures; it’s a matter of not seeing that they can read and understand the Scriptures.
For example, much of the Bible is made up of narrative. Narrative is the recounting of events that occurred; the report of something that actually happened. Bible readers sometimes struggle with “making sense of” a narrative passage, because they are not sure how to draw an application from the account.
Unfortunately, sometimes the way the Bible is taught the impression is given that there is a “secret way” to read, make sense of, and apply a narrative. (Most church-attenders have had the experience of hearing a message and concluding, “I would never have been able to find that idea in that passage.” And, they might be spot on! The idea might not really have anything to do with what the passage actually says.)
But you do already know what you need to know to read a narrative well. You do it every time you look over a family Christmas newsletter, or listen to your children recount what happened at school, or give attention to your spouse as he or she tells you about the day.
Narratives convey truth, but typically not in a propositional way. Narratives inform us, but don’t commonly provide instruction. You listen to or read a narrative to learn about the events and what those events tell you about those who were involved. This is the case with biblical narratives as well. We read biblical narratives to learn about the One who makes Himself known through the events He brings to pass in the lives of people.
Once we lose the fear of reading and making sense of narratives and once we see that what we “naturally” do in reading and listening to a narrative will serve us well in reading Scripture, the adventure begins! We discover that we can read and make sense of Biblical narratives.
To learn more about what you already know about reading Scripture, sign up for an upcoming “Reading Scripture” course.