But the word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart…(Romans 10:8; Deuteronomy 30:14)
For the past ten weeks I’ve shared my thoughts about Scripture with you. This week we hear from some well-known (and not so well-known) Christians on this topic:
Voltaire expected that within fifty years of his lifetime there would not be one Bible in the world. His house is now a distribution center for Bibles in many languages. – Corrie ten Boom
In most parts of the Bible, everything is implicitly or explicitly introduced with “Thus saith the Lord”. It is… not merely a sacred book but a book so remorselessly and continuously sacred that it does not invite — it excludes or repels — the merely aesthetic approach. You can read it as literature only by a tour de force… It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms: it will not continue to give literary delight very long, except to those who go to it for something quite different. I predict that it will in the future be read, as it always has been read, almost exclusively by Christians. – C. S. Lewis
We approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass ofaccepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world.…It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has moulded us. – J. I. Packer
Too often we see the Bible through whatever lens we get from our culture. – Brian McLaren
For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant. – Martin Luther
I am a creature of a day. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God. I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book. – John Wesley
I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden….If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. – Augustine of Hippo
I am busily engaged in the study of the Bible. I believe it is God’s word because it finds me where I am…I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good of the Savior of the world is communicated to us through the Book. – Abraham Lincoln
Perhaps the most radical thing about the psychology of the desert monastics**, the hardest for us to grasp, is the extent to which they believed, as Amma Syncletica’s statement reveals, that Scripture itself had the power to heal. And while it seems like an anachronism to agree with them, deep down I am certain that they are right. There are needs that cannot be met by our therapeutic methods but are amenable to the healing power of the word of God. There are people like myself, who have benefited from counseling on occasion, but are better served in the long run by more spiritual methods, and by such religious practices as “prayer and psalmody.” – Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work.”
**The desert monastics were Christian men and women who, beginning around the third century A.D., left urban centers of Christianity and moved out into the desert of Egypt to seek the Lord in solitude. Amma Syncletica was one such woman.
The H. Scriptures I
Oh Book! infinite sweetness! let my heart
Suck every letter, and a honey gain,
Precious for any grief in any part
To clear the breast, to mollify all pain.
Thou art all health, health thriving till it make
A full eternity: thou art a mass
Of strange delights, where we may wish and take.
Ladies, look here; this is the thankful glass,
That mends the looker’s eyes: this is the well
That washes what it shows. Who can endear
Thy praise too much? thou art heaven’s Lidger1 here,
Working against the states of death and hell.
Thou art joy’s handsel2: heaven lies flat in thee,
Subject to every mounter’s bended knee. – George Herbert1. Resident ambassador 2. First installment
Coming in January: Losing Control.
Next week: Some thoughts on the parable of the guests at the wedding feast (Luke 14:7-14).