Spiritual Reading as Transformation

Josh Reed is one of our brightest recent graduates from Southeastern Seminary. Josh has contributed an encouraging brief essay on the practice of lectio divina to December’s alumni e-newsletter. He notes,

To get to the point, there is a tendency to “flatten” the words of God when we approach them hurried. Within the atmosphere of busyness, our mindset as creatures tends to run towards “tell me what to do” so I can make sure I’m “good” and get on with other matters. But to feast on the Word made flesh, we must linger and respond thoughtfully and faithfully to God’s self-revelation.

Josh’s solution to this unfortunate trend is to recover spiritual reading for the sake of spiritual transformation. This is a helpful word for Southern Baptists and other evangelicals. To paraphrase John Piper, don’t waste your daily quiet time! I would encourage you to read Josh’s whole essay.

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  1. dr. james willingham   •  

    I found the essay on lectio divina to be fascinating, thought provoking, touching a matter that we have largely forgotten in this postmodern driven madness, and that is the power of the written word itself to influence and transform the individual reader as well as the worshiping ekklesia. A picture sets on a book case in my living room: it is the photograph of a elderly gray-haired man holding an open Bible before him as if he were reading. The picture is of my maternal grandfather who raised me on a sharecropper’s farm in Arkansas. He posed for the snapshot, and it turned out far better than we expected, catching his silhouette shadowed on the wall behind his face. His look is one of sanity and calmness, but it is a vivid and a happy picture that makes a stark contrast with one in my mind, one of a man enraged, club in hand, bent on a terrible act from which he was diverted by a dog. Sometime later, he found the Lord during a spell of sickness spent in a hospital and beginning reading his Bible three times a day. That reading, in conjunction with the Lord’s encounter with him in the hospital brought about such a change that I still marvel as a distance of nearly 45 years.

    Before I was converted I encountered the change that reading the Bible was making in my grandfather. A neighbor persuaded the landlord to put us off of the farm, and I can remember Grandpa’s anger that day. Not long afterward, however, I saw him speaking to the man as if nothing had happened. I said, “Grandpa, how can you talk like that to that man. He got us kicked off the farm.” Grandpa answered, “The Bible said to forgive him, and I forgave him.” There is more, much more, but essentially that is one of the reasons why my view of the Bible as the verbally inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God were set before I ever earned my degrees at SEBTS. My views of dogma or doctrine were not ill-conceived, but carefully based upon a close study and exegesis of the teachings of the word on inspiration. They were also informed by an intellectual approach that developed out of six years of research in church history (amounting to some 3000 5×8 notecards covering some 250 sources)and a master’s thesis in Intellectual History tracing a doctrine and how it affected human behavior over a hundred year period. Mr. Reed is to be commended for his essay on the practice of lectio divina, for the transforming power of God’s written word is commensurate with that of the Living Word who brought the demoniac of the Gadarenes to set at His feet, clothed, and in his right mind. One paper I wrote on Inspiration almost got me kicked out of the Doctor of Ministry program. Even my project for that degree was done without the support of the director, who said, “You ought to have known better than to have selected a controversial topic like that. If that church fires you, I will be right there behind them, supporting them.” The topic: “Christian Love and Race Relations.”

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