lectio divina

So, I was browsing around a bit and found this blog. I hesitate to give them more publicity, but I can’t get over one of their posts. In this post they go after Bible.org (of all places!) for being emerging and suggesting that Christians should meditate on scripture. Specifically I think their problem is with Lectio Divina.

It’s fascinating because the author of the post basically says that Christians are supposed to use their minds and as such Lectio Divina is disqualified because the idea is to passively meditate on a section of scripture. Then said author quotes several verses that talk about being sober-minded. For the life of me I can’t understand how being sober means “don’t allow your mind to passively meditate on God’s word.” It’s completely beyond me. Of course, I guess since I like Scot Mcknight’s Jesus Creed I’m disqualified.

Now, I’m not overly big into sort of mindlessly turning a phrase over and waiting for some kind of word from God myself. It’s a bit too emotional for me. However, with the little bit of research I’ve done to date on lectio divina, I’m not sure I have a problem with it. I know I have no problem with the idea of reading, meditating on, praying and contemplating scripture. Unlike with the post on Emergent No tries to say, their is certainly an intellectual component to lectio divina. Ken Boa, in his article on the topic points out that lectio divina is needed among Christians today because our bible study tends to be bent towards the intellectual. He’s probably right too. It’s interesting that it is this article with which the author at Emergent No takes issue.

Basically, from my reading, lectio divina consists of four parts.

  1. Reading Scripture (no one who call themselves Christians can possibly disagree with this)
  2. Meditating on Scripture – “chewing” on it, thinking about it, turning it over in your mind (I’ve been taught to do this growing up in primarily baptistic churches, so I can’t see this being a problem)
  3. Prayer – including conversation with God and confession to him, as well as yielding portions of one’s life that one may have been holding back (certainly this can’t be a problem. If the language that the Benedictine monks use to hash this out bothers, change the language)
  4. Contemplating – this is perhaps the most complicated part of lectio divina, and the one that probably makes people nervous. It is basically resting in God and allowing his transforming embrace to take hold of us. It is being silent and receptive. In some ways its almost the opposite of meditation. In meditation one thinks on the scripture. In contemplation one clears ones mind and basks in God’s presence. In many ways this seems to me to be a practice of the discipline of silence. Some of what I read suggests at this point that one waits for enlightenment from God. This makes me a little nervous, but no more so than my charismatic friends who claim God has told them to do something because they spoke in tongues or had a certain feeling.

Fr. Luke Dysinger has written an introduction to lectio divina. It’s worth the read. So, my conclusions are that lectio divina is not a horrible satanic ritual that must be avoided. I could actually see myself practicing this, assuming that contemplation does not require hearing God’s audible voice, but can be the simple action of resting in his grace and being in his presence.

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