Whom should I listen to?
Ask a Pastor
“How do you know who to listen to when learning about God and the Bible, when different people seem to say different things?” – Jasmine Amador, Tacoma, Wash.
Brian: Great question, Jasmine. It always helps to honestly acknowledge up front that every one of us will approach the Bible with our own lenses and always manage to make it say what we want it to say, if left to our own devices.
For Lutheran Christians, it's always been critically important to wrap Bible reading in prayer, study and community. Each of those – listening for the Spirit, learning endlessly about context, history, original languages and more, and engaging others (Bible study groups, congregation, denomination and the church of all ages and places) – helps to bump up against, challenge and refine our individual biases and assumptions. Sadly, that makes it sometimes harder, not easier, to come to a single, black-and-white reading. But it also usually means coming to a deeper and richer understanding of the fullness of God’s word and the recognition that humility precedes understanding, and it prevents the arrogance of claiming to know the one and only meaning of every syllable.
Rosanne: Listening is really hard work! With so many voices saying so many different things, the cacophony of sounds and words is sometimes deafening and confusing. It would be easy to just give up. Good for you for hanging in there! When learning about God and the Bible, it might initially be important to find a mentor whom you trust and who is wise. Someone who will answer your questions honestly, who will admit to you that they do not have all the answers but who will wrestle with you over the tough questions to find answers. Bless you as you continue to learn about God and the Bible – and keep on asking the hard questions.
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You might also want to read:
Does the Bible still matter?
Building Bible literacy in children
What would the Bible look like if it were not a book?