It makes me a little nervous to write that question. It makes me nervous because I’m not sure it’s a question a Christian can ask of other Christians. Are we allowed to hate the Bible?
Also, what if the answer is yes? What do we do then?
Can I be honest with you? I have been through periods where I hated the Bible—or at least parts of it.
I hated reading it.
I hated what it said.
I hated how it made me feel.
And I’m not talking about feeling convicted, which while unpleasant, is one of the things I love about the Bible.
No, I’m talking about the passages that seem to contradict what I know about God: that He is loving, that he forgives, that he reaches out to the downtrodden, that he is a God of justice.
I am also talking about being bored. I’m talking about struggling to have a daily rhythm of Bible reading that doesn’t make me anxious. I’m talking about weariness, where every verse you read reminds you of how many sermons you’ve heard preached on those words.
I believe the Bible is life-giving, always, and that life is sometimes messy, complicated, and painful.
The Bible is a challenging book. It is unique, and how, when, and whether to read it it is a question each Christian has to answer.
Are you comfortable with your response?
Do you read the Bible regularly? Does the practice give you life? Do you feel God’s grace and freedom when you read?
Do you struggle to read the Bible? Have you decided to avoid it altogether?
Jesus said the poor in spirit are blessed, and when it comes to the Bible, we spend little time talking to the poor in spirit. I want to change that.
There are plenty of books that focus on Bible success. How to read the Bible for all its worth, how to interpret it, reading plans, contemplative practices, and on and on. These are invaluable tools; I’ve used them myself.
But what happens when tools aren’t the problem? When you have read the Bible, several times, and you can’t bring yourself to read it again? What happens when the very act of Bible study is destroying your faith? What happens when the words in the Bible have been used as weapons against you?
It’s not for lack of knowledge. It’s not for lack of methods. It’s not because you don’t think it’s important.
It’s because your spirit cries out when you pick up the Good Book. Or perhaps your boredom snuffs out any intentions you might have.
I’m writing a book for you—or for anyone who has been there. I think we have something to learn from those who are poor in spirit about the Bible. I think the way to freedom is being honest about our complicated emotions. I think Jesus is ready to hear them.
My book will talk about some of the roadblocks that we come to in our journey into the Bible. It will glean wisdom from scholarship and contemplative approaches to the Bible.
It won’t try to fix you (that’s Jesus’ job). It won’t have The Answer.
The heart of the book is a conversation. I’m asking a lot of people about their scripture practices—whether they read the Bible or not. I’m asking why they avoid the Bible, and whether they’re content with their attitude toward the Bible.
Please, join the conversation.
I’ve created two surveys. Choose one:
Click here if you currently read the Bible regularly (say more than once a month)
Fill one out, and help teach me more about how other people read the Bible, and why they don’t.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the project as it unfolds, the best way is to subscribe. You’ll receive regular updates, a sample chapter or two, and my free e-book, Five Reasons Your Faith Feels Uneasy. Sign up here.
Image courtesy Felicia Atkinson