Up until the past few months, I have been a voracious reader. In a typical year, I was averaging reading through right around 100 books, mostly to provide reviews for a variety of Christian book publishers. There were some leisurely reading involved from time to time; however, most of my reading during that time period would be classified as existing in the “nerdy” camp. Of late, the volume of reading in my life has slowed considerably. I am not sure if there is just not much new material that interests me or if my mind simply needs a break.
Perhaps another reason why I have slowed down with the flow of book reading to include clearing out quite a few books in my home library, is I am trying to spend more time reading and meditating on Scripture itself. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not stating there is no value in reading books or that commentaries or writings of that nature are not helpful in studying Scripture. What I am saying is I am tuning such things out for the time being, betting back to the basics of Bible study – Bible, bible dictionary, concordance, and highlighter.
There is something to be said about approaching Scripture in this manner. Call it turning down the noise or call it what you will, I am finding spending time with a passage with some with some simple study tools is producing excellent results.
I often find as I peruse the blogosphere (also something I am trying to do less of recently), a tendency for conversations and engagement with Scripture to be largely formed based on what an individual has written or said. On too many occasions, there is little, if any actual engagement with the biblical text beyond what the writer(s) being referenced has to say on that text. There is a time and a place for that type of approach, but there has to be care taken to not allow the musings of individuals to constantly form a bias for how Scripture is studied.
For instance, I cannot state that because (insert name of author) says something, that is how a text must automatically be understood. While their perspective may be correct, again great care must be taken to view Scripture from its own lens and not through the lens of our favorite author, not matter how correct their understanding of a text.
It is all a matter of book balance if you will with Scripture carrying the most weight. In my reading schedule of late, I have made a concerted effort to have a more appropriate balance, namely with the aforementioned Bible, Bible dictionary, concordance, and highlighter serving as the tools I am using. I might add a heavy dose of prayer is also part of the equation.
I still will make reference to the valuable thoughts I come across in books. Reading and reviewing new and classic works will also continue to be something I do although on a diminished level for the time being. It is a time when I feel the need to study to show myself approved in a way that forces me to focus on the biblical context without any outside influence.
In some areas, such an approach has forced me to think through in more depth some issues. Of late, some positions have been refined and even slightly altered. In other areas in which I may have not have thought through in as much detail, I have been forced to do some needed exploration.
All in all I am finding this exercise to be quite fruitful. This reading balance has been tremendous. I highly recommend it.
Oh….and I still plan on catching up on a few comic book series here and there as well.