Tuesday, March 10, 2020

26. Alive to the Purpose

Alive to the Purpose. Ronald A. Horton. 2020. [May 2020] BJU Press. 120 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian nonfiction; Christian living; Bible reading]

First sentence: The Bible is a special book to be read thoughtfully with a curiosity that carries us forward with eagerness. We should read with all our faculties fully focused and alive to the literary pursuit, exercising the same skills and readiness we use when we read works less important to our growth in God.

Before I begin my proper review, I have a few questions for you:

True or false: The Bible should be read primarily for profit, and any pleasure derived is bonus.
True or false: The Bible should be read primarily for pleasure, and any profit--or growth--is bonus.
True or false: The best way to profit from Scripture is to actually ENJOY reading it.
True or false: Our love of God is cultivated by our reading of Scripture.
True or false: Our love of God--the author of Scripture--goes hand in hand with our love of His Word. Can anyone love God if they don't love His Word?!

The premise of this one is simple: "The Bible is more often studied and searched and scrutinized and analyzed and theologized and memorized and dipped into and skimmed and scanned—all worthy and important actions—than it is read, that is really read." Horton urges--pleads with-his readers to ACTUALLY read the Bible. READ.

He writes, "It is that most certainly—a special book to be read in a special way. But it is also a special book to be read in a non-special way—that is, to be read thoughtfully with an interest that carries us forward with eagerness and rapt attention."

When was the last time you approached Scripture with eagerness, with attention, with curiosity, with both heart and mind fully engaged???? (Or even partially engaged?!)

It's a fair question, in my opinion. Because without this basic-as-breathing approach to Scripture, it is hard to grasp the meaning and come to know the God of the Bible.

I appreciated Ron Horton's Alive To the Purpose. My own experiences reading Scripture--over the past three decades--leans closer to a 'readerly reading' then anything else. So what is a readerly reading?!

"Readerly reading allows the Bible to interest us in the same way a well-chosen story does. This can get forgotten—if ever learned—in the humdrum, pressured business of life. To read in a readerly fashion is to devour a well-crafted story with pleasure. We deprive ourselves of what writers of stories have always known: that what we call literature can serve serious purpose in powerful ways. Pleasure and serious purpose can meet in our reading of God’s Word. In fact we diminish that reading experience when we fail to bring to it the skills and readiness in play when we read what is less necessary to our growth in God."

The book gives readers a glimpse of this in action as Horton explores several passages of Scripture. (A bit of the gospel of John, the book of Hebrews, the book of Romans, a couple of Psalms, some Old Testament stories from the history books).

Horton stresses for readers that they should be reading the whole Bible. That readers should be grasping the BIG picture of the WHOLE Bible. That readers should come to a point where they know how the Bible fits together as a whole, and how parts relate to one another.

As I mentioned before, I appreciated this one. I have a bias. I am a Bible glutton. The Bible is my feast. I come often--many times throughout the day--and often read in large, chunky doses. When it comes to my time in the Word, my approach is PILE THAT PLATE HIGH, it's FEASTING time. I read both the Old Testament and New Testament. I love, love, love all genres of Scripture. I am just not satisfied with a "reading" plan that calls for one chapter a day; or two; or three; or even four. I don't think most reading plans cultivate a love for reading Scripture. I don't think most reading plans care about PLEASURE, about cultivating an absorption of the Word, about cultivating a curiosity, an eagerness, a MORE, MORE, MORE, MORE approach to Scripture. Most reading plans feel more like someone pushing a vitamin supplement to swallow than sitting down to FEAST at a MEAL. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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