Chapter 7 – God Speaks, We Listen: What Is Our relationship to the God Who Speaks to Us in the Bible?
Scot discusses some of his student’s questions over the issue of inerrancy. I resonated with this somewhat as I was trained in a denomination that fought the battle of inerrancy and one’s views on inerrancy were often a litmus test for their orthodoxy. Scot lists one student’s question (and it’s a good question): What good is “inerrancy” if you don’t do what God says? Too many of us know our doctrine about the Bible but don’t do what the God of the Bible says? Having the right view isn’t the point of the Bible, but having a relationship with the God of the Bible. Our relationship to the God of the Bible is to listen to God so we can love him more deeply and love others more completely. Reading the Bible is an act of listening. Listening is an act of love.
Listening in the Bible
Scot reminds us that the word “listen” or “hear” is found more than 1500 times in the Bible. After examining this, Klyne Snodgrass reached the conclusion: “The greatest command is to love God; the prior command [to loving God] is the command to hear,” (as evidenced in the Shema, Deut. 6.4-5). The word “hear” or “listen” in the Bible operates on at least three levels: attention, absorption, and action. Attention opens our ears. Absorption allows what we have heard to fill our being. Action puts legs on the ears, as Jesus says: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice…” (Matt. 7.24).
When we read the Bible as Story and develop a relationship with the God of the Bible,
• We learn to listen to and for God in the Bible as we read it;
• We are attentive enough to recognize God’s voice and let it in;
• We absorb what God says so that it floods our inner being; and
• We act on what we have heard from God.
Good reading is an act of love and therefore an act of listening. But good listening, good attentive listening, good loving listening, is more than gathering information. It is more than just sitting around the back porch with God as we sip tea while God tells us his story. God speaks to us for a reason – McKnight calls this “missional” listening. In brief, God tells his story so we can enter into a relationship with him, listen to him, and live out his Word in our day and in our way.