Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spiritual narcissism

In an excerpt from her book In the Beginning, God, Marva Dawn asks what would happen if we read Scripture as being about Someone other than ourselves:
The Bible is all about God. That might seem an overly obvious point with which to begin a book on character formation, but, if we consider the matter seriously, we discover that we often read the Bible imagining it is about ourselves.

One way to ponder this is to contemplate the underlying question we usually bring to the Bible. Often we ask ourselves as we read, “How does this apply to me?” or “How will I live out this text?” Less nobly, we might be subconsciously asking, “How can this text make me feel good?” or “How can I use this passage to support my own ideas?” (since we sometimes read other books or journals that way). Notice that the focus has shifted away from God to us.

What would happen if instead we first asked such questions as these: “What is God doing in this text?” or “What is God revealing about one or all of the Triune Persons in this passage?” It might seem like a small matter, but it is actually an enormous shift in perspective. It is the move from self-improvement to adoration. ....

...[T]he very essence of sin is narcissism, but that tendency to be “inward-turned” or “curved in on oneself” (as Martin Luther described it) is especially aggravated by our present culture. .... [the rest of Chapter 1]
Thanks to The Gospel Coalition Blog for the reference.

Marva Dawn, In the Beginning, God

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