4 Wrong Ways To Read The Bible (And you may not know you’re doing it)

Let’s first admit that the Bible is an important source of help and guidance in our lives.  We need the kind of Bible-readinghope and helps that the Bible can offer to us…but there are ways in which people can misinterpret and mistreat the bible.  Today I would like to outline just four ways that this can happen, and I know you will relate in some way…so here goes:

4 Wrong Ways To Read The Bible (And you may not know you’re doing it).

  1.  8The Magic 8 Ball Bible Reader…
    Dear Magic 8 Ball, if He or She is the right one for me please let me know…”  Can I be honest, I have used the Bible from time to time in this manner.  We use many of these narratives, poetry, wise sayings to help us decide what to do in this life.  First of all, I don’t miscount that the Holy Spirit can use certain passages to help us, but if all that we do is put our fingers on random passages and BELIEVE that it’s my fortune or some sort of Divine answer, I think we’re way off base.  The Bible isn’t some sort of magic 8 ball that helps us find our soul mate or win the lottery or find the right car…so perhaps we ought to stop treating it like that.
  2. The “I’m right, you’re wrong and I’m going to prove it” Bible Reader…debate
    Have you ever gotten into religious debates with people?  It could have happened at a coffee shop, in school, or on a social media site.  The next thing you know you’re both sparring over who is right and who is wrong.  So you reach for your Bible so you can shoot them down and prove that you’re right and get the final word in…(and score a major victory on your religious debaters score card in heaven).  If the reason we use the Bible is to prove others wrong all of the time, I fear we are mistreating the bible once again.  Don’t mistake “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope…” (1 Peter 3:15) passage for being the same thing as using the Bible to club someone over the head and proving how right you are.  Stop using the Bible as your weapon to prove others wrong, it’s just not helping to reach people for Jesus.
  3. abbyThe “Dear Abby” Bible Reader…
    Sorry Dear Abby and Ann Landers fans.  Even though the Bible contains many life lessons from other people in history as well as books of wisdom, the Bible is not an advice column.  It will not always have an answer for every life problem you will encounter.  That isn’t to say that the Holy Spirit can’t guide and direct you, it just means that the Bible may not have a specific answer that you’re looking on a given subject.    Similarly to the “Magic 8 Ball” reader, the scriptures of these various books put together over a thousand year or two may not always contain some magical advice for someone living in our era.  In a broader aspect of course there are many, many teachable moral principles that we can draw from reading the Bible, but make sure it is read in context with the surrounding history and verses.
  4. The “Out Of Obligation” Bible Reader…forced-marriage
    The last wrong way we can sometimes read the bible is out of some sort of forced obligation.  We grudgingly reach for our bibles and we paw through the “required” reading for the day and then get on with life.  Although we read the obligatory passages we haven’t REALLY read them nor applied them to our every day living.  The “Out of Obligation” Bible reader tends to read the Bible like a homework assignment…from a class they don’t like and have little to no passion for it.  If we read the bible simply because we feel obligated to, the passion and love of the bible will not be present.  This “wrong way” of bible reading will not help us grow (most of the time) it will only make us feel like we are forced to do it, and we might end up feeling as if none of this was ours in the first place.

Read the Bible.
bible1I’m not saying don’t read it, just make sure that you’re reading it for the right reasons.
Be careful not to treat it as something that it’s not, nor ever intended to be.
Ask God to help you in this.
Get connected with a Bible study group (with the same mindset as you) who can challenge you, help you and hold you accountable.

Something more to ponder today…here’s to reading the Bible appropriately and with the right motives and intentions!

What do YOU think?  Comment below and leave me some feedback on this subject.
Join the conversation!

“You’re Reading It Wrong” – 2 Mistakes of Interpreting Scripture


Admit it, at one point or another you have misinterpreted what the Bible has said.  Sometimes we do it by accident while other times our intentions are quite clear.  

The Bible was written by many different people, but we do believe that the Bible was “God breathed”.  That being said, Jesus was the only perfect human to have walked the face of the earth, therefore all other people, including those who wrote the bible, were imperfect.  Each writer experienced life through their own filter and each writer faced their own imperfections.  This doesn’t mean that all the writers of the Bible were bad people, but rather that each struggled with the realities of life and with their own humanity.  Understanding this is important when we read the Bible.  Though we know that God is the same today as He was in the past as well as the future – He is being written about through the life experiences of very human (sometimes very earthy) people.   

This brings me to my point – be careful how you interpret scripture!  Many cults have begun just by taking one single passage in the Bible out of context and applying it to something it was never intended for.  If we are true seekers of The Way then we will want to pay extra attention to the ways we apply scripture and its meanings both then and today!  There are two mistakes that I would like to highlight today for us here (I know there are more) and I hope it will help you as it has helped me. 

2 Mistakes of Interpreting Scripture: 


1.  Context – 
New Christians and even “seasoned” veterans of the Word often do not do the “homework” when reading passages in the bible.  The context of what is written is vital to our interpretation of what is being said.  I have known people (myself included) who at times have simply opened the Bible and pointed to a passage and thought “this verse was meant for me” without studying the initial context.  Of course God can work that way but we should spurred on to really study the deeper meanings and implications of what is being said.  

Questions to ask when studying a passages might include: 
      a.  When was this written?
      b.  Who was this written to?
      c.  Why was this being written? 
      d.  What did it mean for the people then? 

Once we have asked these questions (and possibly more) we can then ask the question – “What does this mean for me today?” 
Context is extremely important!

2.  Culture


Culture in the Bible was vastly different from our culture today!  This doesn’t mean that the Bible is obsolete or out of date it simply means in order to interpret the Bible correctly we have to understand the culture of biblical times.  For instance in Jesus’ day Women were not equal to men nor did they possess many of the rights that men possessed.  Jesus was counter-cultural (even revolutionary) in His day to include disciples who were Women.  

Secondly this becomes apparently clear through the writings of Paul when He says things like – “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” 1 Corinthians 14:34  To understand this we need to understand the Apostle Paul a little bit more and also the context of what is being written.  Paul addressed numerous issues in the early church including a few women who were causing trouble and creating dissension.  The problem becomes worse when many traditional churches take these specific passages of scripture out of context to mean in our day and age Women should act the same when in fact Paul was writing to very specific situations.  There is a danger in painting with large brush strokes here because then we begin to lose the detail and meaning of the words written in Scripture.  

Culture played a big part in biblical times and it still does today.  That doesn’t mean that culture shapes the Word but rather humanity continues to change and alter yet Biblical truths and the words of God are always consistent despite the seemingly inconsistencies of some of the biblical writers.  Make sure when we interpret scripture that we attempt to understand not only context but the culture of the time that passages were written.  


Wrapping it up


Be careful not to take liberties with scripture!  Don’t pick and choose passages that best suit your needs, but rather read it for what it was intended for.  Some are historical narratives, others are prophetical for a specific people and time, while others are meant for instruction of an early church.  One truth should always stand out above the rest:  God desires a right relationship with us.  Throughout the Bible God is always seeking this with those who encounter Him.  There is punishment for those who disobey yet a remnant always remains because God never gives up on us.  In the finality of things Christ comes into full view and we can see just how far God’s Divine love will go to reach us.  The rest of scripture leads us to this place through some very imperfect writers and people – and so are we.  

I could write so much more on this topic…but for now I am thankful to the many instructors and teachers that I have had along this journey…and I am still learning.  

Just something else to Ponder today 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑