Against Daily Bible Reading

OK. This sort of thing annoys me. It’s not Dan Phillips’ fault. His just happens to be the most recent salvo that I’ve heard, and I’m really feeling like I’m the odd man out. I don’t think people need a Bible reading plan. I don’t think your spiritual life can be evaluated by the sheer volume of scripture you consume.

Ok. Step back. Caveats: I’m sure nobody said that, did they? Nobody said that people who know stuff are de facto more spiritual.

But why, oh why don’t the people who tell us in these superlative ways about the importance of Scripture actually do what it says? We pass on the doctrine that scripture teaches everything that pertains to life and godliness,* and then fail to see what scripture actually says about itself. It never ceases to amaze me how often, or how thoroughly people are able to devalue the actual text in favor of a doctrine about the text.

I’m afraid I don’t have the time to write a balanced dissertation that carefully navigates all the rocks of misunderstanding that come from forcefully disagreeing with what everybody thinks. But here’s a challenge for you: Take up your Bible and find the reading plan actually outlined in scripture. No? Ok. Find me a model in scripture for regular Bible reading exampled by some of the giants of faith: David, Daniel, Jesus, Paul – Somebody like that. No? Maybe we’d better go back to the Bible and see how people actually used the Bible. What I see are instances of public teaching, public debate, and intense study when confronted with a question. Never once does a disciple come to Jesus and say, “Lord teach us to read our Bibles.” Instead, in the middle of a confrontation, Jesus says, “Have you never read?” Maybe knowing and following the scriptures is something else again from reading a little each morning like a daily vitamin.

Now, just for kicks, let’s take the same approach to see what the Bible says about prayer. Let’s see: “Seven times a day.” “I will awaken the dawn.” “About the time of the evening sacrifice.” “Early in the morning, he went up…” “Lord, teach us to…”

Yeah, that one’s there.

Now, that said, I do have a Bible reading plan, and I submit it for your consideration: For starters, I read a lot. A lotter than that. Sometimes I read with an agenda, and sometimes I don’t follow that agenda very well. I tend to prefer fiction (and I can read more of it without getting tired), so I have to make a bit of extra effort to include some non-fiction in my diet. Occasionally, the non-fiction book that I read is a book of the Bible. When that Bible book comes up, I read it with the same level of intensity that I read everything else. I take notes if something interesting or insightful stands out to me (which is a lot oftener than with, say “The Lexus and the Olive Tree“. Generally speaking, after reading the Bible all day for a week or so, I’m pretty much burnt out on the Bible for a while, the same as the day after a PT test, or the day after Thanksgiving. It may be a while before I can do something like that again.


* As it turns out, 2 Peter 1:3 doesn’t even mention the scriptures, or Bible reading, or anything like that, so why do people use it that way?

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