Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

The year of Bible murmurization

It’s been well said that the toughest journey truth has to travel is the eighteen or so inches between the head and the heart. For me, part of the problem has been the sticky valve located midway between the two. The vocal chords.

Maybe it’s years of listening to people as a journalist, conditioned to always have a skeptical follow-up question, thinking how hollow their words often sound, and not wanting to come off myself as a hyper or a hypocrite. I think most people in the media have a heightened sensitivity to cant. Anyway, I’ve always been a bit cautious about sounding too Goddy.

But then I remembered someone once saying something profound: that the only way sin can leave the body is through the mouth—confession. And it occurs to me that the reverse might be true, too. Perhaps the only way godliness can find its way deep into us is through the mouth. Confessing what God says is true (even if our internal jury is still out).

It’s something I intend to focus on in the coming year, the closest I will come to a New Year’s Resolution. Maybe speaking out the things I “know” in my head can help work them down into my heart, kind of like spiritual peristalsis.

I’m not talking about the name-it-and-claim-it kind of theology that views God as a vending machine and scripture verses as PIN numbers. Knowing God’s Word well is important, of course, but it’s more than just a religious regurgitation. I’m not knocking diligent study, but it’s interesting to me that, by contemporary evangelical standards, some of the New Testament writers seem to have had a bit of a cavalier attitude towards the sacred text.

Note that when Mark quotes “what is written in Isaiah,” in the first chapter of his gospel, the words don’t precisely match those in the relevant Old Testament passage. Same thing when the writer of Hebrews references the Psalms in chapter three. Neither of them would do well in a modern Bible Bee. I also like how in Hebrews 2 whoever penned the epistle even appears to forget completely the actual reference in mind, noting merely that “it has been testified somewhere…” (Heb. 2:6).

The writers were apparently more concerned about the heart of the matter, which is the matter of the heart. Truth is about more than just dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.

But we can only start from where we are, so letting some of that head knowledge out by what we say could loosen what should really be a two-way valve in the larynx. And, in time, we might go from Bible memorization to Bible murmurization—when we’re not simply reciting what’s stored in our heads, but recalling what rises up from deep within.

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