Do you like reading your Bible, but find that it challenges your point of view? You might think this means that your point of view has to change, but don’t worry there are many ways to make sure your Bible doesn’t change you.
For the best results follow this step by step guide:
Focus on the heart only
This technique avoids personal life change by using the Bible to confirm what you already feel on the inside.
Read each book in isolation
Instead of reading the Bible as a collection of books that tell one big story, take each book in isolation. This means you can skip the hard of work of seeing how each book of the Bible relates to the others and just take them one at a time. You might even realize that the New Testament basically replaces the old one. Oh, you can take a trip over to the Old Testament for some good stories, but no sense spending serious time there when all the good stuff starts in Matthew. Your Bible reading plan is basically cut in half! So efficient.
Skip the hard passages
Every book has a passage somewhere that might challenge your worldview. The easiest thing to do is skip them over. How do you know which ones to skip? That’s where your heart comes in. Just let it feel the verses out looking for trigger words. If you’re already reading each book in isolation you can use this to skip entire books (who needs Leviticus anyways?). Sometimes there may be a passage right on the edge of offensive so there’s one more test you can use: If it could be used in a secular wedding ceremony then you’re on the right track.
Let culture interpret scripture
You’ve probably heard your pastor say “let scripture interpret scripture.” What he really means is you have to read the entire book through (yes, even if it’s Isaiah and his 66 chapters) and even go back and forth between chapters to create a context for the words you’re reading. Moreover, your pastor probably wants you to go through all those cross references those Bible scholars maliciously put in your Bible so that other books of the Bible can interpret the verse you’re reading. You can avoid all this hard work though if you let your culture interpret scripture instead. It’s easy: your culture is probably already deeply embedded in your heart, shaping your thoughts and emotions. Just look inside and let your heart determine what the passage says.
Never read any commentaries
What could a bunch of serious(ly old) scholars have to tell you about your Bible that your heart couldn’t? Their unique(ly outdated) cultural contexts probably won’t add to your understanding of God’s word. Avoiding commentaries is a great way to make sure that your Biblical viewpoints aren’t challenged. Other people often come with other views, so if you really don’t want to change, you probably shouldn’t talk to anyone about the Bible.
Focus on the mind only
This technique avoids personal life change by approaching the Bible intellectually and stifling those out of control emotions that might make you feel guilty about how you’re living.
Treat it like it’s any normal book
The Bible is a collection of ancient Jewish texts written over centuries. However, many Christians claim it’s the word of God, but if you approach it like that you might have to listen to what it says. Better to study it like a historical or literary document that’s not making any relevant moral or cosmological truth statements.
Go to commentaries right away
I know I just said you should never go to commentaries, but here’s another way to get around it. While you’re reading your Bible go ahead and open up a commentary. Read the passage once and then read the commentary through. Don’t bother checking the verses yourself. The goal is get a bunch of knowledge about the Bible, not to engage with the hard things it says that might change your life. Taking the time to think through a passage is a sure way to get those words to affect your life.
Never apply the passages
Philippians was written to the people of Philippi, a Roman colony in Macedonia. How could that even apply to your life right now? You probably don’t even speak ancient Greek. Looking for principles in the text that could apply to your unique cultural context is a fruitless task. Instead, concentrate solely on those historical and literary features that make you look good in front of your pastors.
If you’re comfortable with your life and are afraid the Bible could change it, then you’re going to want to avoid prayer. Don’t get the God who created the universe involved with your Bible reading. He could probably change your heart if he wanted to. If you feel like you still should pray, because it is his book and stuff, then keep it to a minimum. Just say a few words like “bless my time”. Definitely avoid asking God to help you understand the text better. He might actually answer that prayer.
There you have it. Ten surefire ways to make sure your Bible doesn’t change the beliefs and values you like holding on to. If you dig too deep into God’s work who knows what might happen? Better play it safe and avoid the outcome altogether.
By Tim Trouborst
Tim loves discovering how the gospel applies to everyday experiences. He enjoys sports, history, and reading. Sometimes all at once. He works with Power to Change – Students in campus ministry alongside his wife, Sarah.