Loony Tooney Scripturooney

Which topic is most likely to make you lose your religion first? Pick a controversy, any controversy. Immigration? Health Care? Abortion? Homosexuality? Textbooks? Global Warming? World Hunger? You name it; it’s your religion. Okay, not all of us are willing to go Yosemite Sam on someone who disagrees with us over any of these topics, or any others I have left off. Heck, I can’t even grow a normal mustache, much less one like his. Passion is one thing, but overwhelming obnoxiousity…well, unfortunately it’s not just confined to the cartoon world. As unhelpful as losing your cool (not your coolness) can be, there is another adverse Christian practice that relates to how we use Scripture to base our ideas, opinions and, dare I say, our judgments.

As a pastor it is not uncommon for people to approach you with a topic. Many times I’ve heard of people wanting to know what the Bible says about . So, the obvious thing to do is to start looking through one. Our mistake, though, is in the simplicity of how we go about finding our information. Some people faithfully declare they have “studied Scripture” and come to a certain conclusion about their underlined, blank topic. We could write another post to talk about why they visit with the minister afterwards.

However, in my experience, and this may just be a harsh judgment call, most people’s “study” amounts to employing the use of a concordance (maybe) and finding verses that have a word or phrase they are looking for. That’s a wonderful start I’ll commend anyone on, but it’s only a start. Specific to those issues that make us Looney, when searching for biblical answers I think many people do less studying and more hunting.

Admittedly, I have never gone hunting—I mean of the camo-toting, deer dressing variety; I cannot claim any expertise in the matter. I don’t hunt for bargains or the low down on people. In fact, I married my high school sweetheart; so, I didn’t even hunt for love! That said, it seems to me that when someone goes hunting they know what they are looking for. They hunt during a particular season for a particular kill. Hunters have their places, equipment and an eager readiness to find what they are looking for. That works well when you’re hunting wabbit, but it falls short in completely understanding the Bible. The Church needs less Bible hunters and more studiers—explorers, questioners and people willing to take time to study the words of life we have been given.

Again, I’ve never hunted, but I have stayed in comfortable, semi-luxurious hotels before. And I have seen the many pictures that come back from others’ hunting expeditions. “Look at what I caught” and “Isn’t she a beauty” might be translated into biblical hunt talk as “See, I told you you were going to H-E Double-L!” or “Heathen scum.” Friends, remember that our goal is not to be right or to win an argument, but to be faithful.

Here are some easy ways to be less of a hunter:
  1. Pray. Pray that God would remove your obstacles that keep you from deepening your biblical understanding. These might include your Yosemite ‘stache, crunch for time or other good reasons you haven’t studied yet.
  2. Read commentaries. Ask your pastor what s/he has read that can help bring light to some of the issues surrounding a certain text or biblical narrative.
  3. Read like you have a totally different opinion. Try to see how another one of God’s people came up with a totally different opinion than yours.
  4. Read different translations.
  5. Read entire passages, not just verses. Also, take time to read the introductions many Bibles have for each book.

None of this is to say that if you go from hunting to studying you will automatically change your position on certain topics. At the very least, however, you might find a better appreciation of what others are thinking. You might also realize how much more there is to learn about Scripture. Hunting through the Bible can keep us from seeing more of what God has in mind for us. Being open to the Holy Spirit just might keep us from being Looney.

Stay blessed…john

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