I recently saw a Christian book advertisement that said, “How to Read the Bible Like (famous pastor’s name here).” Now, the book is probably decent, and the pastor is a solid Christian man, but the advertising line was troubling to me for several reasons. First, it further adds to the celebrity pastor problem in our culture (see this related post: The Popes of Evangelicalism). Second, it’s quite individualistic (see this related post: Reading the Bible in and with the Church). Third, the advertising line seems to go against the biblical method of biblical interpretation. Let me explain that final point a bit.
When we read Scripture, we want to do so biblically. This is more important than reading it passionately or enthusiastically. We want to read Scripture like God wants us to read it since it is his inspired Word. Other people can and should help us interpret Scripture, but ultimately the Christian must interpret Scripture as it interprets itself. This was one way the Reformers pointed the people to the authority of the Word: they stressed the fact that Scripture interprets Scripture. For example, the Westminster Confession points away from itself to Scripture’s authority:
“The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself” (WCF 1.9).
Speaking more narrowly, when we read Scripture, we also want to read it like Christ and his apostles read it. There’s too much to discuss in one blog post, but suffice it to say that Christ and his apostles read the Scriptures (specifically the OT for them) as God’s Word which testified of the Messiah. So if we want to learn the biblical way to read Scripture, we should sit at Jesus’ feet with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. They heard Jesus explain the OT in a Christ-centered way (Luke 24:27). One resource I recently mentioned here that explains what it means to learn how to read the Bible from Jesus is Walking with Jesus through His Word. I also like how another author put it:
“…Jesus Christ is the key to the interpretation of the whole Bible, and the task before us is to discern how he interprets the Bible. (Graeme Goldsworthy, The Goldsworthy Trilogy, p 105)”
In other words, we should learn how to read and interpret Scripture from Paul, James, Peter, (etc.), who were instructed by Jesus himself. I know that the advertising blurb I mentioned above is just an advertising line and it’s not worth flipping out over. But it is a good opportunity to discuss biblical interpretation of the Bible!