How To and How NOT Use Your Bible


          by J.P. Holding

This is a practical piece on "how to use your Bible". It's a good idea, because as a reader has noted, some today use the Bible as some sort of talisman or even a roulette wheel. I recall one example of this from Pat Robertson (the very sort of person we should NOT listen to for this sort of advice) who, when trying to decide on whether or not to relocate, asked God to show him and then flipped his Bible open, landing his finger on a passage that was a military instruction to "go north" — so he relocated.

The folly of this method is commonly illustrated by the joke about the man who used the same tactic to decide whether or not to commit suicide, and landed on the passages, "And Judas went and hanged himself" and "go ye and do likewise".

It may be best (and here, I am indebted to the form of the reader's questions somewhat) to lay this out in terms of "do" and "don't" admonitions.


Memorize texts. As the reader noted, David memorized the Bible so that he would not sin against God. If it's the Word of God, or even if it's just an authoritative text, it makes sense to do as you would for any other text you consider important, and memorize important bits of it.

There's a caveat to this, however: It's not enough to simply be able to recite (it never is, any time, for any text) but one must also know what the text means. In fact, I'd say that it's far more important to memorize meaning and message than it is to memorize words. Indeed, if you have a poor "playback" memory (as I do) that may be your ONLY alternative.

The point is that if you are someone who has arrived at the conclusion that the Bible is an important document, memorization of it by some means (textual or conceptual or both) simply makes sense as a means of use — and it's also supported Biblically (as noted), and reflects as well ancient use of it and other texts…


          How To and How NOT Use Your Bible