How to Read a Book, I did not find what I was looking for but for a few minutes got pulled into the book again – I recommend it all of the time, I know it is good, I had forgotten how good… If you have not read it, you should.]
In his book How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler says, “The Word of God is obviously the most difficult writing men can read; but it is also, if you believe it is the Word of God, the most important to read.” Two other quotes from Adler apply here:
If an author…explicitly asks you to take something for granted, the fact that the opposite can also be taken for granted should not prevent you from honoring his request. If your prejudices lie on the opposite side, and if you do not acknowledge them to be prejudices, you cannot give the author’s case a fair hearing.And
We are speaking here…of the difficulties that face a non-believing reader of a theological work. His task is to accept the first principles as true while he is reading the book, and then to read it with all the care that any good expository work deserves.The upshot of Adler’s advice here is that we have to read the Bible as the Bible says it is. That is the inspired Word of God. So that leads to at least three questions for passages that strike me as odd or not aligning with my current, using Adler’s words, prejudices I have to acknowledge that the Spirit inspired the author and ask:
- Why did the Holy Spirit lead the author to write this passage?
- What do we learn about the Christian life and/or ministry from this passage?
- How does what is being presented serve to build up believers in their faith?
Those are not easy questions to answer honestly. However, answering them is worth the effort.