It’s Nothing Personal

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I always felt a little ashamed while reading Anne Frank.  It was like I had crept into her room, found her diary under her mattress, hid in the closet and read it.  Reading someone else’s personal correspondence is just not right.

Have you ever heard something like this… “The Bible is a personal love letter from God?”

Is that an accurate statement?  Should you read the Bible as though it were written to you, personally?  While I understand the sentiment I am sure that this understanding of the nature of the Bible is flawed and actually feeds modern passion for the individual over the body of Christ here on the earth.
 
The Bible as a whole was written for a people not a person (Moses recounts the history of deliverance of the people Israel (Deut 33).  The Psalms were written as congregational hymns.  The prophets wrote for the people (Is 6:9).  The New Testament was written so that the Church might have a faithful account of the events of Christ’s life.  The Gospel of John ends with a charge from Jesus to Peter to feed His sheep.  The letters are, by and large, written to Churches or there is an expectation that they will be read by the church at large (notice that Paul tells Timothy that he is to pass his training on to other faithful men).

This is important.  It is not just you and your Bible.  It was meant to be read in the context of a body.  It is not God’s personal love letter to you.  In fact it’s not personal at all.

al sends

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3 Responses to “It’s Nothing Personal”

  1. centuri0n Says:

    Not personal at all Al? I find the “love letter” maxim very trite and glib, but I’m not sure that the Bible is completely impersonal.

    For one thing, the Bible is written for the most part by someone in particular (speaking in human terms), and is written to express the intentions of God Himself — that is, it is written as the very words of God. That means it comes from one source who is, undoubtedly, personal.

    For another thing, quite frequently God is speaking directly to somebody in particular. That doesn’t mean I can call myself Jonah or David or Peter and take everything said there at face value for my personal and immediate benefit — but there’s a personal aspect to those writings which speak in an intimate way.

    And last (for today), you among all people should be wary of waving off the promises to individuals since that what you are banking your view of baptism on. God promises you that your children are valid covenant members even prior to their demonstration of faith.

    Completely dismissing the personal nature of Scripture sort of falls off the face of the page, if you see what I’m saying, Al.

  2. Al Says:

    I guess my point is that the bible “as a whole” was written for a people. That God intended it, even when the initial application was personal, for the body (Paul’s exhortations to Timothy for example). So, while the Person sending the message knew the individual doing the writing and even the individual who first opened the scroll, those of us reading it today should not read it as though it were either
    a) a personal love letter
    or
    b) something that was written for a monk in a cave.

    I am thinking about the person who would read 1 Cor 14 and come to the conclusion that there is a personal prayer language that exists between me and my Jesus.

    Baptism? Individual? Huh? How is holding that children born into a covenant family, receiving the sign of covenant faithfulness, an expression of individualism? The whole premise is God’s continuity in dealing with a people and not individuals. I think you are performing some sort of Baptist projection.

    That being said, my title may say a bit too much. But it is catchy so I went with it.

    al sends

  3. Not My Father « After Darkness Light - Providence Community Church Says:

    […] wrote a while ago that the Bible was not written to you as a personal lover letter from Jesus to you.  I wrote […]

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