Rorschach tests are psychological instruments sometimes used to assess emotional functioning. People can see very different images when interpreting similar drawings. This is true with the Bible as well. Loving people often see love where hateful people see hate. This is one reason why the same Bible can be used for good as well as evil.
Paul wrote that all scripture was given by the inspiration of God.(38) However, he was not describing the Christian Bible. After all, the Bible that we know today did not exist until more than one thousand years after Paul lived. With respect to his own writings, Paul never claimed them to be scriptural, even though they make up a significant part of today’s New Testament.
The Old and New Testaments provide a well-preserved history of Judaism and the early Christian faith. Biblical writings are used in different ways by various Christian organizations, Christian leaders, and Christians more generally—for better and for worse. Even though Jesus prioritized love as the greatest commandment, the Bible has been used by Christians to judge people in hateful ways.
Jesus’ message to his followers was as clear as it was simple. He prioritized love, connection, and service to others.
Love: In Matthew 22:37–40, Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Connection: Where judgment requires separation Jesus taught connection through non-judgment. In Matthew 7:1–2, Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Service: In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The Bible is the Christian faith’s common denominator. How it is read, though, like the Rorschach test, often tells us more about where someone is on their spiritual journey than on what is in the book itself. When Christians use the Bible in hateful, judgmental, and selfish ways, they are not using it in a way that is consistent with Jesus’ priorities.
Jesus’ priorities should be the lens through which we read the Bible and practice our Christian faith. The Bible evolved centuries after Jesus lived on earth and did not exist in its current form for most of Christianity’s history. The Christian faith was cultivated in people’s hearts and by what they did for the least of their brothers and sisters.
Here is a final question to reflect upon. What is your biblical Rorschach test telling you about yourself and other Christians you interact with?
38. 2 Tim. 3:16