Biblically Literate

David wishes that we were Biblically literate. I resonate with that, preacher.

It is time for us all grow up and become Biblically literate. That won’t happen if we continue to depend on the Good News Bible.

It comes from the same muddled thinking that regards swaying “meaningfully” to that drivel Kum Ba Ya whilst looking at a candle as somehow a modern, cool expression of Christian worship. This stems from the time when Methodism and other mainstream denominations had our collective nervous breakdowns in the second half of the last century.

I don’t know if its just me, but I find the NIV as easy to read as it gets.

I don’t think its the language people have trouble with, it’s the notion that this book is supposed to mean something to us and it is very hard for some people to reconcile that truth with the form and content of what is present in the Bible–we can’t always make it fit into our context.

Similarly, the Bible needs to be understood in its own context and in the context of faith. I don’t think its the language, now, that people really struggle with but language is the easiest scapegoat. The deeper issue in which paraphrases may be a band-aid for, is that people tend to expect things from the Bible that it may not wish to give immediately and that doesn’t always happen. Maybe we could be more honest about that. Maybe we could avoid watered down metaphors such as the Bible being the instruction manual for life so that people stop looking for enumerated lists, but begin looking to encounter God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Maybe we could make sure that we teach the Bible appropriately and deal justly with proof-texting and poor exegesis. Maybe we could better equip our churches with the ability to read, understand, and use the Bible as it desires to be used.

And maybe we could celebrate all of our loving and responsible pastors and teachers who do this and lift them up and encourage them. Sometimes preaching the Word doesn’t bring notoriety and fame and these men and women are okay with that.

My heart as a teacher is to take this need and desire, and attempt to rally the community of faith around it and make sure that people understand the scriptures. As churches what can we do to make sure that people do not need to rely on interpreted paraphrases?


One response to “Biblically Literate

  1. The way we seem to want the Bible to work is that we bump into a problem in life and if it gets bad enough, we want to run to the Bible to see whatit tells us to do. We would probably have this idea anyway, but is made worse by sermons that present a contemporary problem then offer a solution that is proven true with a string of quotes that were unrelated in setting and meaning in their original context. These make the Bible seem like an answer key, with the answers oddly scrambled around here and there.

    Scripture works much better when we marinate ourselves in it with daily reading, in a pattern which has us reading it all over and over, year after year. The life shaped by that marinating in scripture is one in which we don’t so much go running to find the verse with the answer so much as we come to know deeply The Three in One who is already working to lead us into all truth.


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