Scripture, Imagination & Immersion.
If you’ve been going to church for a while you might have picked up the impression that learning the Bible – and by this I mean getting a reasonable working handle on its pieces and overall form – is one of those lofty spiritual destinations; a difficult, but worthy endeavour, that few ever attain to.
In response to this view, here are a few thoughts of my own:
1. Learning Scripture is not ‘the point’ in itself
2. But this is absolutely necessary
3. Do it as quickly as you can!
4. Immerse yourself in the Bible – read, study and memorise
And this is the point at which things start to get interesting.
5. Once some of the foundations, this working knowledge, are in place you will then find that your Biblical imagination (the ability to enter deeply into the story, and see its echoes and outworking in your ‘world’) has fuel for the fire, and the ability to kick in and stay alight
6. From here I think you just cannot anticipate what will come of this as you are attentive to life, people and culture around you – with the voices (and wisdom) of your spiritual ancestors speaking over your shoulder
7. This is all actually very exciting stuff – and makes me more convinced about the priority of Scripture
Immersion is the door to imagination.
Feed on Scripture like a madman/madwoman.
Read, meditate on, listen to, and pray it.
This is key to Paul’s imperative:
Romans 12:2 (NRSV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Perhaps we can compare this process to learning to appreciate a painting. In the first instance we take note of its borders and dimensions, to separate the piece from its surroundings. Then we become aware of its general visual form, before engaging with its subject matter, or particular aspects of this. It is at this point that this composition from the past (chronologically speaking) can begin to affect us in concrete ways in the present.
Have a listen to Eugene Peterson as he shares from his journey, thoughts on becoming Immersed in Scripture; the words of a master.