Framing Bible Engagement
“Scripture engagement is interacting with the biblical text in a way that provides sufficient opportunity for the text to speak for itself by the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling readers and listeners to hear the voice of God and discover for themselves the unique claim Jesus Christ is making upon them.”
Fergus Macdonald, Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement
There are 10 theological assumptions that frame Bible engagement. A holistic theology includes the following:
- Bible engagement incorporates three basic elements. The three elements are: connecting with God’s Word, facilitating an encounter with Christ, and pursuing progressive transformation. The elements are interconnected and substantive. When we engage with the Bible the three elements should function together.
- Bible engagement should have a strong Christological focus. Scripture invites us to connect with the person, attributes and life of Christ. We should know the Word of God and know the God of the Word. Bible engagement is much more than connecting people with a book to be read or listened to. It’s about connecting with the One of whom the Bible speaks – Jesus Christ.
- Bible engagement should be relational. We must personally meet with and grow in association with Christ both interpersonally (with a living person) and intrapersonally (with a Spirit person). It’s about learning to love and be loved, about knowing and being known, about friendship and being a friend, about living and letting live. In order to personally meet with and grow in association with Christ, we must believe that He was born, lived, died and was raised from the dead, and accept that this happened in order to reconcile us with God. The relationship that’s formed with Christ is experiential, intimate and interactive, much like an earthly marriage.
- Bible engagement is not a one-off or arbitrary action. It’s a journey – something that should proceed forward step by step. It takes time and happens cumulatively over the course of days, months and many years. Well known Evangelical leader and English cleric John Stott once said, “Only as we continue to appropriate by faith the riches of Christ … disclosed to us in Scripture shall we grow into spiritual maturity, and become men and women of God ….. thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
- Bible engagement is a two-way street. When we connect with the Bible we must do so in a way that allows the Bible to have its way with us. Bible engagement is not strictly an individual affair. The Bible must have its way with us personally and communally.
- Bible engagement should be thought of as a verb. It involves exertion and energy, imitating Christ, and putting what we learn from Him into practice. According to Stott, “Scripture bears witness to Christ not in order to satisfy our curiosity, but in order to draw from us a response of faith.”
- Bible engagement must be more than connecting with a book. It should be a connection with the Story of the triune God so that a person’s or a community’s story intersects with, is changed by, and finds its place in the Story. “Christians have not merely inherited a founding document containing a narrative; they themselves are also actually part of that narrative, or story,” explain the British theologians, Colin Greene and Martin Robinson.
- Bible engagement is connecting with a unified story or narrative. First and foremost the Bible is God’s Story. To understand it one needs to know the basic rules of narratology. When we engage the Bible as narrative we will learn how to indwell the story and open ourselves to be changed by its wisdom.
- Bible engagement is simultaneously a discontinuity with the world and the way to effectively renew the world. For Bible engagement to be effective we must pursue a counter-cultural life style (1 John 2:15-17) while at the same time seeking to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16).
- Bible engagement is beneficial. When we read, reflect, remember and respond to God’s Word we will be sure of our salvation (1 John 5:13), grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2), have victory over temptation (Ephesians 6:13-17), be infused with power (Hebrews 4:12), be strong (1 John 2:14), pray with confidence (John 15:7), have joy (John 15:11), know peace John 16:33), and be blessed (Luke 11:28).
Content from Bible Engagement Basics, credit Lawson, SU Canada
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