The worst use we can make of the Bible is to use it simply as a source of proof verses. --Matthew The Poor, The Communion of Love (pg. 20)
- Read the Genesis account of creation as a science text.
- Insist that every verse shall be interpreted literally.
- Pick and choose which verses shall and shall NOT be interpreted literally.
- Assume your interpretation is God's interpretation.
- Use Bible verses as ammunition in theological debates.
- Say: "If it's not in the Bible I don't believe it!"
- Subject Scripture to an individualistic, Americanized lens; ie. "The American Patriot's Bible."
- Elevate intellectual assimilation of Scripture over spiritual understanding.
- Use the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation to create charts and timetables that predict The End of the World.
- Know All The Words without living a life to back them up.
Top Ten Ways to Use the Bible Respectfully
- Read the Genesis account of creation as it was meant to be read: as a figurative story for non-literate peoples, understanding that the point is still the same; mainly: God created the Heavens and the Earth.
- Respect the various genres in the Bible and interpret them accordingly: i.e. poetry is not intended to be interpreted literally. However, it IS wise to believe Jesus means what He says in St. John 6 about the Eucharist.
- Refrain from picking and choosing which verses to interpret literally; deferring YOUR individual interpretation to the wisdom of theologians who have done that work for you over 2,000 years.
- Unless you are God, your interpretation is not God's. Humility is best served when we preface any statements with something like: "My church teaches..." or "This is what I believe" instead of: "God says..."
- Remember that while you may win the theological debate with your battering-ram of verses, you won't win any hearts.
- Understand that before Christians had the Bible, they were Christian. The Bible as a book is a modern luxury for us. But even without it, we can come to a saving faith in Christ.
- View Scripture as words for ALL peoples--not just white, Anglo-Americans who vote Republican. Choose a translation accordingly.
- Intellectual assimilation of knowledge is ME working, spiritual understanding is GOD working. Remember that sometimes God reveals His greatest truths to children! So, spiritual understanding of Scripture is not about knowing All The Right Verses. It's about yielding to God's love and letting God reveal what He wants to me.
- Remember that Jesus said even HE didn't know the day or hour of His Second Return. So, maybe just let go of End Times predictions. What will be will be. And all will be well!
- The brightest witness of faith is a life LIVED faithfully. Be a doer of the Word, one day at a time. A heart full of LOVE is far more powerful than a mouthful of words. Love, always.
p.s. This post will make WAY more sense if you read my book: "Girl at The End of the World: my escape from fundamentalism in search of faith with a future" :)