by Jonathan Gamble, Staff Writer

What is the Bible? It is neither a philosophical book nor a history book. It is not an answer book, an instruction manual, or an esoteric code. The Bible is neither a self-help book nor is it a rulebook. It is not the infallible Word of God made print. Jesus Christ is the Word and Wisdom of God made flesh.

The Bible is a prayer book. It is the fruit of deep prayer. Its contents are food to be tasted and digested in prayer. I try not to eat everything all at once. My taste buds need time to develop before I am ready for certain foods. Things that do not taste good now might taste delicious years ahead in light of new experiences that raise my consciousness.

It is a book full of invitations to prayer, contemplation, and transformation because most of its stories do not seem to have been written by the ordinary awareness with which we often try to read them. The mind was never meant to grasp or penetrate its mysteries. Its mysteries were meant to be experienced as a pilgrimage of the heart. The Bible expresses some of what can be expressed about direct experience of, and communion with, God. Not so that it can become fodder for arguments, reasoning, proof-texting, and intellectual violence. Not so that truth and revelation becomes locked-down for all time. Not so that it can become a substitute for our own direct experience of God here and now.

The Bible seems to have been written in the hope that, in light of the prophets, Jesus, and Paul (to name a few), we too may come to trust and encounter the real power of opening to the still-speaking presence of God ourselves.