Today, it is more common than ever to welcome persons into our faith communities who have little if any experience with scripture. How do we do that?
I have a curious new member who has taken it upon herself to read the Bible cover to cover. I just received a distressed email from her as she heads into Judges and keeps bumping up against what she perceives as verse after verse of violence and hate. I'm not a fan of reading the Bible this way, myself, and I have urged her to attend our weekly Bible study, but she has very legitimate reasons why it does not work for her.
Here is my dilemma. On the one hand, I don’t want to say to her - or to any new Christian - "don’t read the Bible." On the other hand, I really DO want to advise her not to read it. What advice/guidance do you offer new Christians re scripture?
I would never suggest to anyone that they not read the Bible. Reading it cover to cover may prove confusing, as would reading an anthology of any sort and expecting everything to connect and make sense.
Perhaps suggesting a commentary would help, or finding a mentor who can help her understand the theology and sweep of the Biblical story.
What advice/guidance do I offer to new Christians who want to read the Bible? I tell them to start with a Gospel, preferably Matthew, Mark or Luke. I remind them it is living and active, powerful and challenging. No ONE understands it all, and they should be open to the idea that they won't either.
Seriously? I would tell her to stop reading it cover to cover. It is not a manual of operations or a novel. She's right in her description of where she is in the reading, there's no arguing that, but the case can be made that she is reading it for the wrong reasons/purpose. "Stop reading it. Don't read another word until you come in to see me."
If she continues to plow ahead, that's her choice. Don't get sucked in there.
What would you suggest to this new member? Let us know by posting a comment below.
May you live in God’s amazing grace+