Learning to Read All over Again
In this fascinating excerpt from John Piper’s new book, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, we learn how Pastor John learned to read, to really read at the age of 22. In this brief excerpt we will be encouraged and challenged to question how we read the Scriptures, and then to dig in again to have our eyes opened to the truths of the text that have been there all along. No matter how old we are, it’s never too late to learn how to read again.
How Did I Learn to Read at Age Twenty-Two?
The years 1968–1971 were explosive in my discovery of what it means to read. In one sense, I said, I learned to read when I was twenty-two. My encounters with Daniel Fuller, Mortimer Adler, and E. D. Hirsch were life changing. Hirsch convinced me that interpretations can claim validity only if meaning is defined in terms of what an author willed to communicate through his words. Adler showed me how passive my reading was and what it means to put my mind in gear as I read so that I am constantly asking questions and trying to answer them. Fuller took my hand, as it were, for three years, and guided me through dozens of biblical texts, forcing me to put into practice the disciplines of aggressive attentiveness.
Did I really learn to read when I was twenty-two? Did I really have to wait until my first year in seminary to discover what it means to read the Bible? You judge. The most fruitful discovery I made about how to read was that the authors of Scripture argue. They develop arguments— trains of interlinking thoughts that lead somewhere. Until those days, I read the Bible mainly to collect precious nuggets. Doctrinal nuggets. Devotional nuggets. Pearls. These were wonderful. I don’t begrudge the years of collecting and stringing pearls. They served me well. I loved them. I think they probably would have led me faithfully to heaven.
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