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On Hearing Scripture

What should we do with the bible? Study it? Believe it? Live by its precepts? Yes. But let us not put the cart before the horse.

The first thing every person must do is hear Scripture! Hearing comes first. Every Christian, whether converted by infant baptism, or later via catechesis, first heard Scripture and was blessed with faith fulfilling the Lord's own word. "Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it." (Luke 11:28) And "Faith comes by hearing ... " (Romans 10:17)

But there's more.

Once we have heard Scripture we must also pray it. That is done in the Great Congregation. In the eucharistic assembly of the baptized. Churches that pray historic liturgy pray Scripture by direct engagement because true liturgy is composed of nothing other than Scripture. Holy worship is the primary time and place in which the baptized hear and pray Scripture. Nor is the format of holy liturgy desultory, but there is internal logic to it (but not all liturgical forms are equal).

But what of Bible study? It is good but not a virtue in and of itself. Said another way Scripture has no independent life of its own apart from the worship of God's people. We study Scripture so that we might learn to know, love and worship God aright. In Sacred Scripture God gives us the very words to use. His words. In it we learn a new language. God's language. A language foreign to us except it be learned from the church. By it we enter into the Divine Conversation. We enter into God. It's best to think of sacred Scripture as the narrative or script of worship. The divine words given by God to accompany the divine action Jesus commanded, "This do in remembrance of me." 

The Bible is not the object of our religion. But when we talk about the Word of God it is first the person of Jesus that we should have in mind. The Word of God made flesh, glorified on the cross, and exalted by resurrection, ascension, and elevation to the right hand of the throne of God. He is the church's liturgist and high priest which are coterminous. (Hebrews 8:1-3)

But this priest never liturgizes the Father apart from his Bride the church but always and only with her. And the Father loves the church, the Son's Bride, even as Jesus says in John 16:27, "The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God."

So then to hear Scripture is to hear God. To engage it is to engage and commune with God. "Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is." (Heb. 10:25)