Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reading the Bible Well: Reflecting on a Text's Implications

Reflect on its Implications and Function within the Bible
Once we have answered key questions raised in our close reading we need to begin to draw out the broader truths and ideas that are explicit and implicit in the text. The goal here is to move from the specific details and facts in a passage to an understanding of how these details together to present a deeper message.

In light of your study, reflect on questions such as these: If this were the only passage of Scripture that I had, what would I know? What broad truths emerge from reflecting on this portion of Scripture? What does this passage teach about God? What does it teach about life in God’s creation? What does it teach me about humanity and the role of God’s people?

After reflecting on these questions, it is important to attempt to assess how the teaching of a given portion of Scripture relates to the whole. Are there other places in the Bible where similar teachings or ideas are found? Reflect on how our text nuances, affirms or critiques other biblical texts. The purpose of this step is to understand the contribution of our text to the biblical message.

Make Specific Applications
The goal of the reading the Bible as Christian Scripture is conversion. The power of Scripture to shape us depends on our willingness to push beyond merely engaging the Bible with our minds but also putting its words into practice in our world. Once we understand the message of our passage in light of the biblical message as a whole we are able to explore how it may impact our lives in the present.

Here are a few questions that you may find helpful to guide you in this process:

How does this passage understand God’s mission in the world and how do we fit into God’s purposes? What kind of people does this text imagine us to be if we were to live out its message? How would my life be different if I took the truths of this text seriously? How would my community of faith need to change in light of my study?

Try to be as specific to your own setting in life as possible in making applications.

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