As I journeyed toward Orthodoxy and told people about it; my ex-Roman Catholic father, and mother who is the grand-daughter of a Lutheran pastor, friends who knew nothing about Orthodoxy except the wrong information they had been fed or was easiest to find and believe, I encountered some opposition. After the old standbys of; ‘idol worship’ (we do not worship idols), and ‘call no man father’, the other big misconception is that for some odd reason, most people who hear the words, ‘Orthodox Christianity’ think that Orthodox Christians do not read the bible. Friends, the Orthodox Christians WROTE the bible. They literally wrote the book on Christianity.
I am trying to read my bible everyday this year. As a Protestant, you do bible studies (other people’s questions to answer about a particular passage) or have daily devotionals. Snippets of bible time of particular passages. If that is what works best for you great. You’re reading your bible and that is what matters most. As an Orthodox Christian, I have noticed there are not many ‘daily devotional’ books out there written specifically for us. I did a bit of Internet exploring on this topic the other day and found it quite interesting. There is quite a bit to learn as an Orthodox Christian. I fully expect to be lying in my pine casket one day with a ‘To read’ list grasped in one hand under a St. Matrona icon, and my prayer rope.
St. Andrew Orthodox Church has a ‘read through the bible in one year, reading plan pdf. I amusing it to guide me on my bible reading goal. I am posting from their pdf the Ten Principles of Orthodox Scriptural Exegesis.
Page 4-St. Andrew Orthodox Bible Reading Plan How to Read the Bible Ten Principles of Orthodox Scriptural Exegesis adapted from Bishop MICHAEL (Dahulich)
1. Christ -God is real and is incarnate in Jesus Christ; He is the Key to the Scriptures.
2. Life -One’s ability to interpret depends upon one’s spiritual state; one must live it in order to fully understand it.
3. A Love Letter -We read scripture to fall deeper in love with God and put on the Scriptural Mind.
4. Theosis -We read Scripture to become by grace what God is by nature.
5. Tradition -Only within the Church and her Tradition (the consensus of the Fathers) is there full and correct interpretation.
6. Scripture is a witness to the truth, the pinnacle of Holy Tradition; it is not an exhaustive manual of church life.
7. We must interpret the Bible as the Church has handed it, not try to reconstruct the canon of Scripture.
8. Personal -Ask yourself not only: what does the text mean, but what does it mean for me?
9. Humility -As many Church Fathers, consider your understanding of difficult texts as provisional.
10. Use secondary knowledge (history, literary criticism, archeology) to illuminate our understanding, not redefine dogma.
Various scriptures are read throughout Orthodox Christian services. I guess you would call that a ‘group bible study’. A typical week of compline, vespers, and liturgical services plus whatever other prayer services not mentioned here but conducted- would cover the entire book of Psalms.
Additionally, Orthodox Christian read about the ancient fathers and saints who lived the Christian life before we came along. this is done for guidance on how to walk out our own faith in Christ. How do we face the daily struggles of Christianity? Well, Elder Leonid of Optina, Elder Thaddeus, St. Paisios, etc. will show us how through the examples of their lives recorded by their Abbots and brothers.
We do not walk this past alone. We do not walk as if we are the first perosn to ever have walked it. Others have gone before us, done a better job with it, and should be looked at as an example to guide us along our way.
I have lived the Protestant life for 50 years with its ‘new revelation knowledge’, ‘secret knowledge’, ‘hidden knowledge… just now revealed’, etc. It’s all a giant wagon of horse manure. If God is the same, and never changes (which He is) where is all of this ‘new found knowledge’ coming from? Not God.
Read your bible, but not just ANY bible. Buy an Orthodox Study Bible and read IT.
It is by far the best bible I have ever read. It has the best, most logical commentary. Better even than the Matthew Henry commentary.
Keep going. If reading your bible more was a goal of yours this year… don’t give up. Don’t worry about trying to catch up. Just continue from where you are now.