Tuesday, March 11, 2008

so who is the Bible for?

As I continue to probe the place of the Bible in church today, I have found myself asking who is the Bible for? Is it for individuals or for the church?

Is the Bible for individuals? And therefore the way we use it reinforces this. We encourage personal devotion and applaud a sermon that applies the minds of the individual with thoughts and truths.

Is the Bible for the church? And therefore the way we use it reinforces this. We preach a sermon that applies to the church. We encourage devotions that remind us we are reading within a wider communion. And we read the Bible together in ways that invite the community to engage the text as a community, through practices like communal lectio divino, Dwelling in the Word, community discernment, storytelling, takeaway spirituality.

Or is it for someone/thing else? Am I making a false dichotomy? How much does the culture we grow up in shape our answers?

Posted by steve at 01:55 PM


  1. The bible is for motels (in answer to “how much does the culture we grow up in shape our answers?”). Growing up that’s the only place I came across them : )

    Comment by Jack — March 11, 2008 @ 5:47 pm

  2. that’s great Jack. 🙂


    Comment by steve — March 11, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

  3. I think it might be a false dichotomy. Each individual Christian is necessarily (at least in my theology) part of the church. I don’t think we can be “mere individuals” (despite the attempts of modernity). I think the Bible is both for individuals and for the church in community.

    I would go even further. If an particular Christian is not hearing the Word as an individual and as community, I believe their hearing is likely deficient.

    Comment by Laura — March 13, 2008 @ 6:02 am

  4. Nice move Laura. The old “both/and” not “either/or”


    Comment by steve — March 13, 2008 @ 8:07 am

  5. I always have seen the Bible as being the story of God and his love for the World. Therefore it is for the world but cherished and lived into by those who choose to call themselves the people of God. Others can take it or leave it.


    Comment by Andrew — March 13, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

  6. Andrew,
    i added “the world” in my draft post, but then deleted it. this is a blog in progress, so i’m not finished on this. but my current wondering is that the Spirit is for the world, while the Bible story is of God gathering a people,

    my thinking is that i’m not sure you can read well the Bible as an individual outside the church. but by keeping the Spirit prominent, that still allows God to speak to the world, while the story of that speaking is best understood and narrated by the people of the book,

    but i’m still in process on this, which is exactly why i have a blog, to allow myself to think and be pushed in this way.


    Comment by steve — March 13, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  7. Yep, good comments Steve but I wouldn’t want toget to a point (which I know you aren’t) where The Word is for the church and the Sirit is the one doing mission in the world. I see the two as far more intertwined.

    Enjoying this thread.


    Comment by Andrew — March 14, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

  8. I think old Gutengburg and his printing press shifted the ground considerably on this argument. Before his invention ‘liberated’ the Scriptures into the hands of the individual, God’s word was a very mediated thing – ‘heard’ in the gathering rather than ‘read’ in private by the individual. Was the Bible ever meant to be a thing consumed at home alone in the comfort, silence and privacy (loneliness?) of our bedrooms? Hey, I’m plugging for the both/and view, but I think we have lost touch with the communal focus of the Scriptures.

    Comment by Marty — March 18, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

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