The Grid – When the Bible is part of the problem

The first of five parts:

     One of the worst things about the performance system is how it twists Scripture to support its teachings.  A discussion group I am part of has repeatedly looked at and challenged the manipulation of Scripture passages used by performance based teachers.  One thing we need to understand is that this misuse of the Bible has made it very difficult for some to enjoy reading it.

Pavlov taught his dogs to react a certain way at the sound of a bell just by feeding them after ringing it.  When only the teacher knows the “whole” truth, the followers learn that their own understanding of Scripture is inferior and not to be trusted.  You failed the quiz over and over.  They learn that they need the “wisdom” of someone else to truly understand Scripture because they are, presumably,  too influenced by the wicked world.

The other thing that happened to many was that they learned to dislike reading Scripture.  I know fathers who wanted to throw their Bibles away after the family devotion time because no one in the family seemed interested or appreciative.  (Never mind that Dad had forced the whole family to get up at 5:00 AM so he could do this before he went to work.)  I know moms who simply stopped reading the Bible because it was constantly condemning.  They could see nothing in the Scripture except more to do.  And I know of kids who hated the Bible because it represented all the negative things their family was going through.  The Bible was said to be the source of the teachings that held everyone back and made life miserable.  “Do it because the Bible says.  Don’t do it because the Bible says.”  They grew up thinking that the enemy of their joy was the Bible.

Overstated?  Not according to what some people have told me.  It certainly makes sense that people would stop reading their Bible once they are out of the performance system.  It became the image of that system.  “If you reject the system, you reject the Bible,” the teacher said.  “Ok, so be it!” came the response.

Now, remember that this was twisted and misused Scripture that was being rejected.  We may know that, but those who were trying so hard to get away from the pain didn’t know that.  It was all the same book to them.  I have known several people who stopped reading their Bible even though they still wanted to know the Lord.  They were not giving up on their faith, not really, they were just rejecting the way it was presented in their lives – and that was connected to the Bible.

More coming….     Comments??



Filed under Freedom, grace, Legalism, Uncategorized

6 responses to “The Grid – When the Bible is part of the problem

  1. graceandgiggles

    Nodding my head while reading this post! Yes, yes and yes some more. I never used the term performance based. But, since coming back to the Lord as a grown up (that’s quite arguable ha ha), I have had plenty of talks with my mother about numerous struggles and she will tell me, “It’s because you were raised in a manner that focused totally on externals.” Oh, yeah, I guess so. When I began reading the Bible again, I had a lot of trouble because it was a book that was always in my dad’s hands. And my dad left the family (a long time ago). For another woman. He met in the church. Ouch.

  2. My little sister and I were having a discussion about this just a few days ago. We were both remarking on how we will go through phases when we are very faithful to read our Bible daily but that such faithfulness has nothing to do with actually wanting to read it. It has everything to do with someone saying we should or guilt-tripping us into it. Both of us greatly desire a closer relationship with Christ but there seems to just be an aversion to reading scripture. Thank you for outlining some of the reason. I look forward to the rest.:-)

  3. Rachel

    I haven’t been able to read my Bible for over a year. At first I couldn’t because I could only hear the voice/teaching that I had been raised with. But then….now….it has become that I have no idea what to believe. It’s exhausting to try and figure out what is truth. Is any of it true? It seems every sect of Christians has different views and how to apply them. I really question everything about Christianity now.

    • Rachel, I have heard so many say what you have written. It is exhausting and it hardly seems worthwhile to keep trying to sort all of this out. But it is true and I hope you will continue to seek Jesus. The whole point, after you flush almost everything else, is that Jesus loves you. He is alive and with you and He loves you. The great theologian, Karl Barth, who wrote an amazing amount of deep theology, was asked if he could bring the whole works down to a single statement. His answer: “Jesus loves me, this I know.”

      Over the years I have suggested that people who still are willing to read the Bible just take the book of John with a simple goal. Look for the love of God in Jesus. Once you finish John, start one of the other gospels with the same goal. Or read the letters of John. The simple message of love is clouded by all the stuff people bring in, but it is there and you can find it. If you do this, let me know how it goes.

      Rachel, I am praying for you. I do care. If you would like to bounce ideas or frustrations or whatever off me, I am here for you. You can send email to me at dave (at) gracefortheheart (dot) org and I will answer. Don’t give up.

  4. Sandy

    I am just now able to pick up the Bible and read it again after 2 years. The Lord Himself is setting me free from years of legalistic teaching. I no longer attend a Church because I felt so quilty and so condemned because I was not “measuring” up to their holy standards. I felt so dead inside because I knew I could “never” measure up to the standards they set before me. I finally stopped trying at all and walked away. Not from the Lord, but on the manipulative teaching I was receiving. I knew something was very wrong & I just couldn’t live like that anymore. Little did I realize the Lord was doing this. He wanted to free me from all the legalism and to teach me Himself of His love, mercy & forgiveness ! He did this through a lot of grace teaching on different websites he would lead me to. At first, I thought this is too good to be true, I surely had to “add/do” something to be accepted by Him. It’s extremely hard to believe He accepts me “freely” after being indoctrinated by legalism for years. He never gave up on me though. I “stumbled” onto your website while searching for something else and started reading all your articles. I have been blown away by what I am learning. I have been a Christian for 30 plus years and am just now starting to see where all this fear, quilt and condemnation was coming from. The Bible had become a terror to read, because I knew I was going to misinterpret a scripture and all I could see was judgment and doom. What bondage and a miserable life to live when He came to give life more abundantely ! How could I witness to anyone else and expect them to want what I had ??!! I didn’t even try because I knew I had more misery than they probably had…what a mess I have been ! Only by the grace & mercy of God have my eyes begun to be open. Praise His Holy Name ! Thank you for standing up for the truth and sharing it with people searching for it. I would like to know what books you recommend reading that might help me along more.
    A scripture He gave me is : Hosea 2:14
    “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.
    I feel like I have been in the wilderness, lost with no way out, but He has never forsaken me. I know He is leading me out.

  5. Pingback: God’s Input | Grace for my Heart

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