WHAT IS "HOLY READING"?</font>
<font color=black size=3 face=times new roman>Dear Bro. Waddey:
I attended a Ladies' Inspiration Day program and the woman who taught it spent her time talking about a new way of reading the Bible which she called "Holy Reading." She said it was practiced by the early church. This was new to me. Can you help me understand what she is promoting?
- <font color=indigo size=3 face=times new roman>Dear Rena:
The Holy Reading exercise that your teacher introduced is a derivative of the Lectio Divina practice of Roman Catholic mystics. This unfamiliar practice did not come to us directly from some Catholic monastery. It has been brought into the Lord's church by the teachers that we commonly identify as change agents. We use this name because they themselves use it to describe their efforts and because they are working to reshape the church after a denominational pattern and thus to make it a denomination. These misguided teachers are numerous, and scattered throughout the nation and in some of our mission fields. They control Abilene Christian University, David Lipscomb University, Pepperdine University and Rochester College. They have a foothold in a few other schools, but have not yet gained control of them.
The change agents have borrowed their mystical methods from a denominational movement called "The Emergent Church" which is promoted by Fuller Theological Seminary and Church Growth Center in California. The Emergent leaders have blended Hindu and Buddhist mysticism with the Medieval Catholic mysticism, New Age religious practices and Postmodern philosophy. To this mix they add a sprinkling of Bible to hide its true anti-Christian nature and make it look and taste like, to the unsuspecting, a Christian movement
First of all let me point out that it is never wrong to read the Bible whether in a group or privately. It is in no way wrong to read it silently to one's self. Nor is it wrong to concentrate on a verse or a paragraph until one has memorized it. It is not wrong to have a favorite passage that we return to with frequency. Nor is it wrong to call to mind an important promise or command when you are being tried or tempted.
That said, there is still something to be faulted in this and other similar mystical practices currently being promoted by our change agents.
- They claim that those who pursue such methods as Lectio Divina will be more spiritual, therefore better Christians. They think that by repeating a verse, even a phrase or word repeatedly, that your mind will be emptied of normal thoughts and God might speak to you in the quietness. If this were true we would wonder why the apostles, led by the Holy Spirit, did not instruct the first Christians to use the method? Why did it take several hundred years to be discovered and that by Roman Catholic disciples of "St." Benedict? It implies that the person who participates in their Lectio Divina method will be more spiritual and holy than the Christian who reads and studies his bible, prays fervently and serves Christ in his daily life, but chooses not to follow their method.
- Lectio Divina is but one of several mystical practices being promoted by these false teachers. From the same pagan and Catholic sources they advocate such things as Taise worship, labyrinths, centering prayer, lighting candles when praying, retreating to isolated places to find God, mantras and other methods to "discover the voice of God within." Of course, the Bible knows nothing of such practices.
- This "holy reading" practice was not used by the early church, meaning the church of the first century. It is more honest to say that it was a practice that developed and was used by Catholic mystics from the fourth century onward.
Remember the words of Peter, "Be sober, be watchful: your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5:8).
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now