If you’re going to misuse the Bible, try using it as a booster seat for a toddler or a coffee table curio or a place to keep the family genealogy. Or maybe give it away at the Salvation Army to someone who might actually read it to find salvation or hope for moral transformation. But please, God, deliver us from those that would turn it into an answer book for all sorts of folly.

Using the Bible as a success manual, or as a get-rich-quick scheme, or as an alternative medicine regimen, or as a replacement for a biology textbook, or as a travel guide through the days of history’s end, or as a rule book for public education, or as a guidebook for international policy, or as a foil for good science, or, or, or … diverts attention from the grand themes of Scripture. When people claim divine authority for positions that they hold but lack any reasonable way of commending or defending, cynics and skeptics lick their chops and find the feasting fitting.

A few odd recent examples: the Zion Oil and Gas company of Dallas is using the Bible as a treasure map to discover oil in . The founder, John Brown, says that the company will drill only in Israel and that he has no doubt this faith mission will be successful because the Bible has left a clear clue of where to find black gold. Citing Deuteronomy 33:24, which says, “Let Asher be blessed with children … and let him dip his foot in oil,” Brown has obtained an oil lease from the Israeli government to drill in the northern region of the country that was once the land of the tribe of Manasseh. Never mind every sound scholar agrees that the oil mentioned is olive oil; Brown plunges ahead.

Then there’s the Weigh Down Diet that founder Gwen Shamblin claims is Bible-based. A closer look reveals it to be a generally sensible approach to weight loss that also addresses deeper issues than just the food that is eaten or how much. The Leviticus Diet tries to get back to an eating plan described in the Torah for reasons of health rather than spiritual identity. Whatever the effects of these approaches, to claim that God has authorized them as the proper means of human consumption is to claim an authority that trivializes divine revelation by co-opting the Bible for lesser things.

Jews can be as guilty of this as Christians. Rabbi Schlomo Schwartz has a new book out called “Reward Miles to Heaven.” He claims that by taking certain simple everyday routine tasks — like calling a friend or eating lunch or paying bills — and raising them up to God in a flash of awareness, one can accumulate mitzvot (meritorious charitable acts) like airline miles and maximize one’s reward in the Next World.

Enough. The Bible reveals the passionate love of the Creator for the world. It is a grand narrative detailing the lengths God will go to preserve, redeem and restore the world in lovingkindness. It invites us to live faithfully toward God and others as witnesses to God’s glory.

There is no one right way to read the Bible, but we can narrow the range of rights by righting the wrongs.