Something I have learned this past year in seminary: Bible Study is tough work.

When Martin Luther broke from the Roman Catholic Church in the Sixteenth Century he was warned by the RCC.  He was warned that if everybody was given the opportunity to read the Bible on their own, then anybody can interpret it on their own, potentially leading to many negative things.  The Church no longer told the masses what to think.   Now anybody could read the text in their language and come to different conclusions, no matter how wacky they might be.  During the era of the Protestant Reformation, you had several factions rise up, opposing each other over different readings of Scripture.  Nearly 500 years later, we see that Rome was right, if everybody could read the text in their own language, then anybody could make up any point on their own.  Freedom spawned not only spiritual fervor, but also chaos.

See, studying the Bible is tough work, because anybody and everybody can have an opinion on the text.  That is why I view my training in a seminary as both important and humbling, because I know teaching others is a heavy and joyous burden.  There are hard passages in Scripture.  There are difficult questions raised that many try to gloss over or ignore.

Sadly, sometimes people will not explore all the options and use the Bible as a weapon.  Encouragingly, sometimes people will get it right and teach the Word of God with clarity, affecting many lives.  What I’m trying to get at is that studying the Bible can cut either way, and this reality hangs over my head.  It’s why I try to be careful with how I communicate it to others and why I am comfortable saying I just don’t know at times.Was the RCC right?  I think so.  But freedom is worth it.  Freedom to read the Word of God and allow God to speak through it to people.  The Word of God is powerful and sharp like any two edged sword.  However, I think I’m going to promote the freedom to read it on one’s own and give it a chance.  Countless lives have been changed by reading a page or two, whether in a hotel room or on a park bench.  I have the crazy idea that God chooses to speak when we are ready (or not!) to listen.

Who knows, it could happen to anybody.  It could happen today.

What tools do you use to help you study the Bible?