George Fox once wrote:
I saw also how people read the Scriptures
without a right sense of them, and without
duly applying them to their own state. ( QuakerPsalms p. 13)
This past week I was at a group called GodPub and in conversation we started talking about the bible, what it is, and how we should approach it. I realized that there is a split between what we might think of as ‘uniformity’ and ‘solidarity’ readings of the bible. Consider that many groups use the bible as a means to justify their acts. If it is a tool for justification we often already have our pre-existing ideas in mind and then go to the bible to find how it fits with what we need it to fit.
But this is, at least in my opinion, an absolutely terrible way to read the bible. Our approach to the bible needs to be completely different. It needs to be not in searching for justification for prior ideas mind, but rather as a means of transformation of ourselves as Fox hints at above. Those stories in the bible that invite transformation (and not all the stories will do this all the time for everyone) will actually challenge those very things that we might otherwise try use the bible to justify. The bible is to be read in a way that actually invites us to be changed, to see the world and humanity in a new light, to draw us closer to the Holy One and to humanity. It should help us to become better people. In a word it is a book meant for transformation.