“I just got finished reading Eugene Peterson’s, ‘Eat this Book.’ It was an interesting read. Peterson’s book is essentially an attempt to recapture Christians’ love of the Bible. One particular point that I appreciated was Peterson’s discussion of what he calls ‘upward sacrilege.’ Essentially, Peterson is arguing that when we make Scripture too holy or too wonderful, we tend to sacralize it and therefore set it aside. The Bible becomes a stagnant and dusty holy thing on our shelves rather than something into which we should be immersed. It becomes an artifact rather than a living and vibrant story into which we are to live. It becomes something we teach our children not to drop and not to misbehave around.
One of the quotes that I really appreciated was this, ‘We seldom if ever think of it, but it doesn’t take much imagination to realize that the first people who read the Bible didn’t know they were reading the Bible.’ That is to say, they were just reading letters from Paul or a series of stories about a traveling Jewish Rabbi named Jesus. They were able to approach the stories and letters without the pressure to convert or obey. They could just hear them and let them age in their souls for a while. There minds were not as apt to collapse beneath the weight of authority of the Book of books. I have thought and read along these same lines before, but I like the simple and clear way that Peterson communicates his ideas in the latter section of his book. What if the Church could read the Bible again as though it was not the Bible? What might that free us to do? Would we enjoy the stories again?”
I see the Bible as the authoritative word of God. It’s important. God speaks through it to direct us, guide us and anchor us to his truths. But what Peterson says here challenges me to also experience the stories and life behind God’s words as just that – stories and personal messages.
It’s tempting to make the Bible into a legal document. Yes, it has that weight and power, and that cannot be ignored. But we also have to sit back and realize the intensely personal nature of the letters and books that make up scripture. They’re personal both to us and to the original receipeints of the text.
What happens when we read the text with fresh eyes?