Why the way Western Christians read Scripture needs to change

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the BibleMisreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by E. Randolph Richards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this informative book, the authors–E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien–take the reader through the multiple (but not all) ways Western Christians misread words written hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago, in cultures far removed from ours. This misreading is done by interpreting Scripture through the wrong lenses, and some of these lenses are: race & ethnicity, language, individualism and collectivism–where conduct isn’t determined by an individual, but by a larger group–time, or virtue and vice.

The strongest chapter, for me anyway since it’s one of my own pet peeves, is toward the end of the book and is titled “It’s All About Me: Finding the Center of God’s Will.” In this section, the authors tackle the huge problem that is endemic in evangelical Christianity–the cult of “me.” When Scripture is interpreted through the lens of “me”, fundamental differences arise between current belief and what the ancient words actually mean. The authors state in the conclusion to this section: “[t]his cultural assumption about the supremacy of me is the one to which we Westerners are perhaps blindest…When we realize that each passage of Scripture is not about me, we begin to gradually see that the true subject matter in the Bible, what the book is really about, is God’s redeeming work in Christ…I am not the center of God’s kingdom work” (207-208.)

It’s worth the price of the book if that is the only concept anyone walks away with.

While I don’t agree with everything in the authors say–what they say is very much worth reading. When Scripture is read without consideration of, or knowledge about, the societies, cultures, and time periods these passages were written in, reading Scripture becomes a selfish act, one that ignores what is our spiritual heritage, lived out by our spiritual ancestors. Our history is rendered irrelevant, which leads back to the cult of “me.”

The book is divided into chapters, with subheadings. Each chapter has a conclusion and a set of questions at the end, making this book ideal for group study.

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