4. It’s God’s word so don’t ever argue, or attempt to dialogue with it.
Socrate’s is reported to have said that he disliked books because you couldn’t argue with a book. I understand this entirely. I am, like Socrates, I suppose, a dialectic learner. This means I learn primarily through the tension of contrasting ideas, through argument. By asking questions, and posing contradictory views, by exploring the obvious and the absurd, by sometimes playing devil’s advocate, and then playing the devil’s advocate to the position I just set up as Devil’s advocate. I learn from hearing the words spoken and I learn from processing the arguments on each side. This is why people occasionally have a difficult time knowing which side I’m on. This is why sometimes people think I’m trying to persuade when I’m only trying to understand. And this is why I’m sometimes accused of answering the simple question, “What time is it?” with a discussion of the best way to build a clock.
If you are starting to feel sympathy and compassion for my wife right about now, you would not be wrong. It took her a few years to understand why I would suddenly switch positions after finally persuading her of what she thought was my position. She is, as you probably have guessed by now, a saint among women.
Anyway, where Socrates saw a weakness in books, you can choose to see as a bonus in your quest to remain unchanged by scripture. Books are clearly only black and white and when they are the actual Word of God it would be downright sacrilegious to argue with the text in any fashion, right? By taking this stance, you can avoid taking any of it too seriously. All apparent contradictions will remain so, all seemingly irrelevant passages can stay safely irrelevant, and all obscure, possibly helpful text can stay obscure and useless.
It’s important you don’t think too long about the great questioners of Scripture. People like Habakkuk, or Job, or Nicodemus who were all changed by arguing seriously with God. It’s important that you ignore the moments of change which have come through tension in scripture. Instead see tension as the enemy, serious thought and question as blasphemy, and above all remain afraid that God might just not be smart enough to handle your probing insights and questions. In this way, you can again appear to uphold the sanctity of scripture without actually being changed by it’s inspiration.
By no means should you take Paul’s words to Timothy seriously, that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Such an approach to scripture lacks an appearance of wisdom in favor of actually wisdom, which would be a mistake…if you’re goal is to remain unchanged.