Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why I have six Bibles and no notes

I own a lot of Bibles.  These are just the ones I could grab immediately - there are more packed away in the basement:

But I don't read them.

And most of them are unmarked - even the study Bibles -

Even my high-school Bible, which I received and decorated at Teens Encounter Christ -

- is mostly empty.  A passage underlined here, a note there.

I know why I don't write in my Bibles -

First of all, to write in them I have to read them, and I don't, except for class assignments.

And second, very few of them have good margins, and most of them are so terribly thin that the ink bleeds through easily.

But the real reason I don't write in my Bibles is that I'm sure that I'll regret it.

I'll choose the wrong Bible - e.g. it was Oxford in college but now at seminary I have profs who prefer HarperCollins.

I'll put all my notes in one Bible and then a new, "better" translation will be released.

I'll be seventeen and do this:

and then be ashamed of that Bible for the next ten years - sure that someone will look at it and see not how I struggled with my sexuality but rather how haughty and self-centered I was.

Or I'll never get through the whole Bible, and someday someone will see that my gospel of Luke is full of highlighting and my Leviticus is crammed with notes but Proverbs has nothing, and they'll know I'm a sham and I should never be a pastor.

Or I'll lead a Bible study and crack open my well-worn, colorful, crammed-with-notes text :
reblogged from
and accidentally shame someone there into thinking she's not a good enough Christian because she don't love Scripture like Pastor Kegler does.

Love for Scripture, and attendance to it, can be Gospel - the force that liberates us, that promises us justification through Christ.

But it can also be Law - that which condemns us, bringing to light our failings and brokenness.

Martin Luther, a lover of Scripture, taught that the Bible was both Law and Gospel - both condemnation and justification - and that neither could ever be taught without the other.  Law without Gospel - condemnation without justification - is death to the hearer.  Gospel without Law - justification without condemnation - is "cheap grace," salvation without cost, a blank check to live however the listener cares to.

To see the well-worn, triple-highlighted Bibles of others is Law to me - a revelation of my own failings and a force of guilt.  So the challenge now is to find the Gospel ...

1 comment:

  1. Emmy, thank you for making me feel better about not having my Bible all marked up. I know that wasn't your point, but I know what you mean about how when you see someone who has marked up their entire page.