Thursday, August 09, 2007

On books

I just finished Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson's most recent book, which Scot McKnight calls the best book about the Bible ever written. Or something along those lines. I did find it very helpful, informative, and every bit worth a recommendation to any and all.

However, I was a little surprised by the hard right it took. The first half related to how we read the Bible, and it's powerful stuff. It ought to be required reading for all who follow in Christ's footsteps. But just when he finished laying out the philosophical groundwork for spiritual reading, just when you turn the page for the "how-to," he instead went into a basic history of the Bible - where it came from, how it got to us. And he followed that with some interesting stories about archeology and its influence on how we read the Bible. And he included a section explaining his reasoning behind writing The Message. All of which, while very worthwhile stuff, didn't seem to flow from the first part of the book. I don't know. Maybe I'm missing something. You read it and tell me. I will admit that it would be more worthwhile for people who had never taken the time to study the history of the Bible. Maybe it was just ground that I was too familiar with.

In the end, my only complaint was that he never really went into the "how-to" part of Bible reading. He explained the thought behind it, but never said "so, here are some thoughts about how you might make this work in your life." Which means that you might have to pick up another book on Bible reading to go along with this one. Otherwise you might be left wanting just a bit more.

That's my $.o2, anyway.

But let me give you one last quote that I found especially helpful, especially in light of some of my recent online theological discussions:

"Once the Bible became a revered authority it became possible to treat it as a thing, an impersonal authority, to use it to define or damn others, and to avoid dealing with God's word in a personal, relational, and obedient way. It didn't take long for people to start using the Bible as a cover, as a front, by honoring it, praising it as a verbal artifact, defending it as the Truth against all comers, treating it as a classic, as great literature, rather than receiving these words and responding to these words as God's words to them, personally. But the words of Scripture are not primarily words, however impressive, that label or define or prove, but words that mean, that reveal, that shape the soul, that generate saved lives."

Good to remember.

I realized I said awhile ago I'd post some thoughts on To Continue The Dialogue, the Mennonite book on homosexuality that I finished last month. And I haven't done that yet. So this morning, as I sat at the Honda dealership, waiting for a pressure switch to be replaced in the car, I began writing those comments down. They should be here soon.

And now? I told you a couple days ago that the Amazon box showed up. . .but I've had a stack of 10 books on my immediate to-read pile, so I can't jump ahead. On top of the pile was Sacred Sex, by Tim Alan Gardner. So I guess it's next.

note: from first glance, this appears to be more like Peterson's book - a philosophical, theological work, not a how-to book. So rest easy.

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