What Is Scripture?

What is scripture?  Is it the Word of God?  Written text divinely inspired by God?  Or is it the written compilation of religious traditions of peoples from around the world?

What is scripture to you?  Do you read scripture?

Shortly after graduating from college, I read Mortimer Adler’s book, How to Read a Book.  That book inspired me, not only to read the Great Books of the Western World, but of the eastern world as well and the various religious texts in particular.  I figured if they were profound enough to inspire the religions themselves and millions of people as well, then they probably have something to say to me too.

They did, and still do.

I believe scripture is that body of written work on which you build your life.  It is the “first principles” of your life, the axioms and assumptions which underlie your thoughts, words, and deeds.

Scripture may be a religious text like the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita.  It may be some work of philosophy like Plato or Aristotle.  Maybe even a work of fiction like The Lord of the Rings.  For a time I read that book, or parts of it, nearly every year.

Perhaps you disagree with me.  In fact you may feel offended by the generic nature of my definition.  But I think even an atheist will want and need a written embodiment of what she believes to be true: the fundamental axioms or principles on which she bases her actions; or a vision for what life can or should be.

And let’s face it, there are certain texts that have acquired a sacred patina even though they are secular in nature: the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America to name only a few.

People and scripture are the bricks and mortar we build our life’s meaning with.  Without one or the other, it’s hard to build a lasting foundation.  That being the case, what are you reading?  What are you mixing your mortar with?  How do those words become the cathedral of your mind?  How do you turn that scripture into meaningful action?

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