What is the Bible Trying to Do to Us?

Scot McKnight, The Blue Parakeet, Chapter 8: The Boring Chapter (on Missional Listening)

In this chapter McKnight picks up and finishes the thought of the last chapter by exploring what it is that the Bible is trying to do or accomplish or produce in our life.  His wife called this chapter “boring” (hence the name of the chapter) but I must say this one and the last have been my favorites thus far in the book, probably because this is the part I most need to develop in my own Bible reading.

We do not read the Bible for information, rather for transformation.  Any reading of the Bible that does not shape us is less of a method than God intended.  McKnight calls this “missional listening.”  The Bible has a mission: to shape us so that we are manifesting concrete, genuine good works like love, charity, patience, compassion and so forth in our lives so that we might love God and love others better each day.  Our task is to “listen” — attend and absorb and act, as stated in the last chapter — to the Bible in such a way that this takes place.

McKnight focuses his thoughts in this chapter on 2 Timothy 3:14-17:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We must read with tradition, just as Timothy’s understanding of the Bible had been shaped by his mother and grandmother.  He must bear in mind that the Bible is “God-breathed,” a reference to the Holy Spirit that works in the Bible and works in us for formation.  Bearing in mind that transformation is a process intended to produce character in our lives, we know we are reading the Bible well when our life starts producing good works, that is “concrete responses to the needs we see in our neighbors” (p.112).

McKnight ends with these two provocative conclusions:

  • If you are doing good works, you are reading the Bible alright.
  • If you are not doing good works, you are not reading the Bible alright.