The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Franciscan Contemplative FR Richard Rohr. While the Bible is a source of love and guidance for some, others have been on the receiving end of abuse in the form of bully passages and human scriptural distortions. I've have personal experience with both. Whether the internal voice in my head or the actual voice of another, it's important to try to remember that if it isn't loving, it isn't God. Note that doesn't mean it will be easy! Again... insight first learned the hard way then later understood through the academic lens of seminary. #GODasLOVE
"The New Testament is a vision quest story, an invitation to us to step into the vision quest of God. This quest is transformative.… It is the earth-bound story of a flesh and blood seeker who lives in the midst of the mundane, using what is at hand to turn the common into the extraordinary."
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Father Richard Rohr outlines a prayerful practice of interpreting Scripture the way Jesus did:
Offer a prayer for guidance from the Holy Spirit before interpreting an important text. This begins to decenter our egoic need to make the text say what we want or need it to say. Pray as long as it takes to get to this inner intellectual freedom and detachment.
Once we have attained some honest degree of intellectual and emotional freedom, we must try to move to a position of detachment from our own will and its goals, needs, and desires.
Then listen for a deeper voice that isn’t our own. We will know that it isn’t the ego because it will never shame or frighten us, but rather strengthen us, even when it is challenging us. If it is God’s voice, it will take away our illusions and our violence so completely and naturally that we can barely identify with such previous feelings! I call this God’s replacement therapy.
If the interpretation leads our True Self to experience any or several of the fruits of the Spirit, as they are listed in Galatians 5:22–23—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control—I think we can trust this interpretation is from the Spirit, from the deeper stream of wisdom.
If any negative or punitive emotions—such as morose delight, feelings of superiority, self-satisfaction, arrogant dualistic certitude, desire for revenge, need for victory, or any spirit of dismissal or exclusion—arise from the interpretation, this is not the Jesus hermeneutic at work, but our own ego still steering the ship.
Finally, remember the temptation of Jesus in the desert (see Matthew 4:1–11). Three temptations to the misuse of power are listed—economic, religious, and political. Even Jesus must face these subtle disguises before he begins any public ministry; this is a warning to all of us.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, What Do We Do with the Bible? (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2018), 52–54.
About Heather Thompson
Acquired Savant w/ Synesthesia~Independent Artist~Contemplative Theologian~20+ Yrs Keynote Speaker~AwardWinning Entrepreneur/CEO~Pioneer in Healthcare Business Intelligence~Published Worldwide~RareDisease Advocate