I’ve been reading Ennis again, before finishing my book review. This has made me reflect on using scriptures as a rulebook.
Especially when you compare Proverbs and the following book.
Both are there waiting for us when we need them, as we plod through our own messy journey of faith.
If you’re questioning God, are about to give up, and need to rant, Qohelet is your guy.
If that’s not your issue, but you’re on a path to try to live your life wisely, Proverbs has a lot to say.
And either way, God is with you.
“Rulebook Bible reading” shortchanges the depth and raw reality of Israel’s own journey of faith in God.
Both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes belong in the Bible just as they are, because both situations are real experiences for those on the same journey. And then there’s Job.
First we have Proverbs to help us look at just what rules are in the Bible, since often there will be three or four or five different ones.
Then the next book. After all Proverbs looks like a number of different rules, that contradict each other, but with wisdom you can pick which one applies.
Isn’t that enough?
Of course I led with the conclusion. Both books are sets of stories that are there when you need them rather than a unified set of rules so you can avoid needing them.
The same is true of the rest of scripture.
If you simplify the scriptures to simple proof texts and rulebooks you strip them of their relevance, power and usefulness.
With rulebook scriptures, instead of the scriptures being a powerful tool to be there for our needs and to allow God to communicate with us in our circumstances; to rulebook the scriptures we cut and paste them into our own image, a sort of hamstrung idolatry.
If you demand of others that they fit into your rulebook, you deny God and are without charity or the love of Christ.
That is what I think.
What do you think of whether the scriptures are a simple rulebook or whether they are narratives that can find us in our needs and help us respond to God?
And how much do the scriptures allow us to self righteously straight jacket how others must respond to God?