Is it helpful to think of the Bible as “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”?
I don’t think so. This characterization, like others referring to the Bible as an owner’s manual mis-read the real value of the scriptures.
Unless, of course, you sit down to read an owner’s manual for your car, computer, or hot glue gun because you find the reading enjoyable and life-giving.
Sure, you might suggest, reading such a manual helps you operate your car better, but is your life really something you “operate”? Mine isn’t.
Regarding the “Basic Instructions…” thing. If you were writing “Basic Instructions” about something, wouldn’t you do it in the form of something, oh, basic:readable, brief, clearly deliniated, did I mention brief?
Every Bible I’ve read or otherwise handled is at least 1,000 pages and lacks the simple lists of instructions that might count as “basic.” I will also admit that even now, 20 years out of seminary with a lot of practice and time under my belt, some of it is not particularly easy to understand, either.
I like Bill Hinson’s characterization of the Bible much better and healthier. It is also more likely to inspire me to want to spend time in the book. Hinson told about how he kept all the letters his wife had ever written him, even those from their earliest days of dating. he would occassionally pull the box where he kept them down off his closet shelf and re-read them. Whenever he did this, he relived so many precious moments he and she had had together.
THIS is the Bible I want to spend time with; the one that reminds me, each time, how deep and long and wide is God’s love for me and for you and for every one of and aspect of His creation!