Those Rascally False Teachers

There's been some controversy floating all higgledy piggledy about the Twittersphere (the thin layer above the troposphere where heated arguments and cat pictures are trapped by the majestic gasses) about the concept and practice of Lectio Divina, or divine reading, a contemplative method of scripture reading that dates back to the monastic traditions. Tim Challies, a Reformed blogger, warns about the dangerous dangers of such a wickedly Catholic practice (at this very link!). Rather than expound his own argument, he presents the theory of another author who argues Lectio Divina encourages subjective, experiential interpretation rather than thoughtful exegesis.

Which would make sense if made any sense. One Mr. Mark Moore to the rescue. Moore, a (formerly Reformed) pastor with extensive experience with the expository method, gives us a sensible breakdown of the practice and its purpose. Jump over to his post if you're curious; there's enough material on Lectio Divina around without me adding to the noise.

In my previous post, I mused that progressive interpreters of Scripture like Mathew Vines may be trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Here, I wonder the same thing about Protestants- those of us whose Christian historical narrative too often has a conspicuous gap between Augustine and Luther. If we stripped the Latin name of Lectio Divina and replaced it with something that sounded much less insidiously Catholic, like, say, The Calvin Method ™, I suspect there'd be less grumbling about it. Indeed, we might as well; the Reformers themselves were known to practice this intense reading of scripture. Furthermore, the content of Challies' argument against the practice does not jibe with the actual content of divine reading. Because he argues against what it does not argue for, I must wonder if he therefore he is wary of the practice because of its origination.

Let us return to Mr. Moore:

...Tim Challies does have a good title to his post,The Danger of Lectio Divina.

Lectio divina is dangerous.

There is a dangerous risk to your comfort when you begin submitting to Scripture rather than trying to master it.
— Mark Moore

One laughs at all this talk of danger in such an intensely spiritual practice, as it immediately calls to mind the fears of a particular young Londoner who stumbled through a wardrobe one day:

Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

”Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.
— C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Assuredly, we must be ready to examine with a critical eye each of our steps in our walk with the Lord. That, of course, requires that we have a critical eye- regarding a thing as it is, as God sees it, not as we fear it might be. I'm not arguing for or against Lectio Divina in your life- the quirk of Christianity is that it is inherently universal, annihilating the distinction between Greek and Jew with the pounding of a nail. We must be prepared to understand and appreciate the spiritual movements of our brothers and sisters and resist the natural urge to explain how they've gone and done it all wrong.