Holy Scripture is Not an Ouija Board

More good stuff from Mark Shea.

The "Bible as Ouija Board" phenomenon was puzzling to me as a protestant. I was told by more than a few fellow worshippers that the Bible had all the answers to my daily problems -- just pray about the problem and open up Scripture and the Holy Spirit would "show you a verse." It didn't seem to matter what the context was -- twisting the verse to fit your individual situation was the goal. I had a friend who sincerely believed the entire book of Isaiah was written specifically for her. Any prophecies about the Messiah were incidental -- mostly it was really just all about her.

I think the source of this approach to Scripture is the abundance of anecdotes concerning people who hit rock bottom in whatever their personal struggles were, opened their Bibles in desperation, and read verses that somehow spoke to them in their situations. Salvation (or at least a renewal of faith) inevitably followed.

I believe God really does that for a lot of people when they, in their total spiritual starvation, turn to Him through Holy Scripture for just a crumb of sustenance to keep them going. But to take that and extrapolate it into some kind of rule that says He must do so for all of us, all the time, is ridiculous. Those of us who are followers of Christ (and particularly those of us who are members of Christ's Church) have an entire banquet of Scripture and other resources at our disposal to continually feed our souls and help us through the trials of daily life. Why would we want to survive only on crumbs?

I'm sure there are a lot of protestants who look aghast at this poor approach to Scripture. I really don't think this is a very widespread practice, this "Bible as Ouija Board" thing. But where it is prevalent, it contributes to an almost schizophrenic experience of faith wherein people make their decisions moment-by-moment according to "what the Holy Spirit shows them" rather than doing any sort of deep contextual study of the Scriptures in order to form a comprehensive Christian worldview with which to confront the world and its myriad dilemmas in the first place. Put another way, they're winging it. And while God is certainly able to protect and guide even the willfully ignorant, it's the "willfully" part that will be a liability on Judgment Day.

Anyway, read Mark's article and keep checking back for more from him -- it seems he's going to try and show us how to better read and learn from our Bibles. I know I'm eager to do that better. I hope you are, too.

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