Friday, July 2, 2010

Conversing with God in Scripture: A Contemporary Approach to Lectio Divina

By Stephen J. Binz, 150 pages, Word Among Us.

Lectio divina is a prayerful way of reading the Bible that has been practiced for centuries by Christians. Rather than intellectually approaching the Bible, the reader approaches with an open and humble heart.

The Bible is not a finished product, but something that has life. As it is inspired, it can inspire us today. When we see it as simply a collection of ancient stories, the sayings of Jesus, and the theology of Paul, we forget that we can meet God in Scripture.

Binz reminds us that "St Jerome (fourth century) wrote that the Bible must be read and interpreted YYin the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.YY Because of this ever-present divine Spirit, the sacred text is transformed from simple paper and ink to the illuminated page."

Lectio divina opens us up to being enlightened by the Holy Spirit, according to Binz.

Lectio divina is quite a different approach to the Bible than the one practiced in universities and many seminaries, where scholars and students objectify rather than revere and listen to God's word. They do so, as just one example, by refusing to see the whole story that the Bible is telling us.

The whole story, Binz reminds us, can be easily summed up as the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like the ancient Christians and Church Fathers, lectio divina invites us to view the Old Testament as being fulfilled in the New Testament. The Old witnesses to Christ, though in a hidden way. We can only understand the Old Testament when we realize that it speaks of Christ by prophesying and setting the ground for the Messiah.

The Bible, Binze reminds us, in therefore "not a book of information," nor a way to communicate doctrine and ethics. "Rather, the text itself is a gateway to God. Through the inspired Scripture, we meet the God who loves us and desires our response."

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