Gospel News · May - August 2014

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other man’s. It matters what Biblical texts
mean, but we need to be asking the right
questions in order to connect them to life in
practice. Unless we do, we enter into the
crisis of so many believers - whereby the
Bible becomes sterile and remote from them;
the shining path of the new life becomes a
rut. And yet we rightly proclaim the Bible as
God’s word to be the basis of our lives, and to
be a living word.
Left Brain, Right Brain
This basic division between theory and prac-
tice is actually perfectly natural. It’s how we
are structured. The human brain is divided
into two parts- the right and left ‘hemi-
spheres’, connected by a bunch of fibres. In
cases of severe trauma to the head, the brain
can flood with blood and death then follows.
Brain surgeons began separating the two
hemispheres in cases of such trauma in order
to preserve life. As the patient learnt to
function again afterwards, it became clear
that the left hemisphere controls the right
side of the body [and vice versa]. The left
hemisphere was found to control speech,
naming things, grammar, abstract thinking,
the intellect. The right hemisphere was
observed to be controlling meaning-in-
context, emotion, perception of size, colour
etc. The split between right and left hemi-
spheres is in fact very similar to the split we
observe between our Bible study on the one
hand, and our practical application and
feeling of it on the other. So my first point is
not to despair at the existence of the split.
It’s part of our being. The challenge of being
a whole person in Christ is to synthesize the
two sides. It therefore shouldn’t surprise us
at all that in spiritually immature individuals
and systems, the most profound, gripping
exposition of Scripture can be listened to
with riveted attention and every approval -
and yet produce absolutely no practical
outcome in the lives of the listeners.
The integration of the Biblical text with
human life in practice thus becomes one of
the keys in spiritual life, and is a technique
which needs to be acquired as soon as
possible on our spiritual journey. The
problem is that if we fail in this, as the actual
text of Scripture becomes more familiar to us
over years of reading and hearing it
discussed, it becomes the harder to find a
second naivete, to really come to God’s word
and His Son ‘again for the first time’; to be as
it were a born again virgin. All human
creativity likely arises from the process of
the left hand analyzing data, and the right
interpreting it and reordering it into a
coherent whole. If the right hand doesn’t do
this, then the data as it stands can be seen as
contradictory - and those cynics who revel in
supposed ‘Bible contradictions’ have simply
failed to come to the text with a mature
mind and both parts of their brain. If left and
right work together, we see synthesis and not
mere words of text; both form and content at
the same time. I wonder if this idea of left
and right hemispheres is alluded to in
Scripture. There are some verses which
certainly seem possibly relevant - e.g. the
left hand is not to know what the right hand
does (Mt. 6:3). “I will pray with the spirit
[right hemisphere?] and I will pray also with
the mind [the left?]” (1 Cor. 14:15).
Terra Incognita
How practically, then, can we come to the
Bible in a holistic manner, as the whole
person? How can we engage more meaning-
fully and practically with the text we read?
We often find answers in things we are so
familiar with that we have ceased to give
them their true weight. If we accept that the
Bible really is Divinely inspired, then we are
called to attention by its every word. This is
no mere textbook, novel or history book.
These words are God speaking to us person-
ally. Seeing this is God speaking to us as mere
men, let us not assume that we understand
the text before reading it.
We need to pray for the ability to come to
God’s word fresh. To meet Jesus again for the
first time, as it were. If we sense more
deeply the Divine inspiration of the words
and our own desperate frailty and limitation
Editorial | Reading the Bible again for the first time