The second angle deals with how we deal with scripture. I often ask people, What is the word of God? The typical response is the Bible. However, every once in awhile someone will say Jesus. I have never thought to ask what happens if the Bible is our only understanding of the word of God? The Bible is, after all, a book that can be closed and set aside. I do a great deal of reading and everything I read has one thing in common – I can start and stop them, give them voice or silence them, at will. Is it possible that we have come to this conclusion with the word of God as well? Since I have my own Bible I can choose when to open and close it. I can choose where I want to read. I can choose to skim the genealogies or reread the miraculous. I am in control of it. It wasn’t quite like that at first.
The first Bible readers weren’t Bible readers at all, they were listeners. The word of God first came as an audible word then as a written word, first as a visible word, then as a written word. After reading the second angle I have began to ask myself if I have in fact been listening to the word of God as I read it. This is what Peterson calls contemplative exegesis.
My pastoral concern, it should be clear, is not to argue a particular theological position on the inspiration of Scripture, but simply to represent the unbroken consensus of Israel and church in regard to Scripture: that a living God speaks a living word and that the Holy Scriptures are the written representation of that word. We read Scripture in order to listen again to the word of God spoken, and when we do, we hear him speak. Somehow or other these words live.
Hearing these words for oneself is a matter of prayer and listening (also called study). Helping others hear these words is the third angle – Spiritual Direction.