Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lectio Divina

In my reading about devotional practices in different Christian traditions, I frequently come across the Latin term Lectio Divina. What is Lectio Divina, you may ask? The term translates to English as "Divine Reading." Below is a description of Lectio Divina from the website of Redeemer Presbyterian (Tim Keller's Church):
Lectio Divina, or "Divine Reading" involves meditative listening to the reading, out loud and slowly, of a short passage or a few isolated verses of Scripture. It can be down on your own or with a group. Those who listen are encouraged to set aside analysis, and what they "know" already about the passage, seeking instead to open themselves to God's Word, listen with their hearts and receive it expectantly and passively. They then attend to what they receive from God. God's Word is received personally, as an individualized gift to each person.
They go on to give a step by step guide on how to do it.

Sounds to me like a good and normal part of a devotional life and being a person of the Book, provided that it is not all you do.  Carl Truman has some balancing thoughts here.
Overall, it seems to me that this articulation of LD amounts to a formalized elaboration in sophisticated language of those Bible studies where everybody has a chance to tell everybody else 'This is what the passage means to me,' and, depending on the innate ability of the participants, the group may not necessarily go home with a better understanding of the passage or, indeed, any understanding of the passage at all.   Such is not really consonant with a Reformation understanding of scripture which placed a high premium on analyzing the text to establish its meaning and on a view of the church where the reading and understanding of scripture was to be guided and facilitated by those set aside as competent for the task.  Not that the Reformers did not think individuals should not read the Bible for themselves; but they were clear that, when doing so, such should not do so in isolation from the analysis and knowledge provided by their nurture within the church
Knowledge and devotion, study and meditation, head and heart -we should keep them both together.