JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


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Bible-less or Bible-more?

Kenneth Briggs in his book, The Invisible Bestseller: Searching for the Bible in America, records his pilgrimage in search of biblical literacy. Remarkably, he says he found the most intimate familiarity with God’s Word, not in the hundreds of churches he visited, but in a prison!

The general decline of biblical literacy in the Western world is old news. But what’s new is that research conducted by Barna and LifeWay indicates that American Evangelical Christians have a failing grade when it comes to common knowledge about God’s Word.

There also seems to be a correlation between the size of a church and biblical literacy. Briggs says that the faith he finds in “mega-type churches” is a “Bible-less … alternative version of Christianity.” In other words, the larger the church the more likely it is for the Bible to be “a museum exhibit, hallowed as a treasure but enigmatic and untouched.”

I’m guessing, in the absence of similar research elsewhere, that the state of Bible literacy in other parts of the world is similar to the USA. That’s why I’m advocating for “Bible-more.” The Bible should be more than a lucky rabbit’s foot, more than a talisman to ward off evil, and more than a good book on a shelf in a home.

Why does this matter? Because when we’re Bible-less, the lies of the devil enslave us. But when we’re Bible-more, the truth sets us free!

In the subduction zone of nominal Christianity succumbing to the tectonic influences of postmodernity, Bible-less faith needs to be called out for the hollow sham that it is. Biblical illiteracy should never be tolerated in any church for any reason. To build a new generation of earthquake resistant Christians we must be Bible-more focused in every facet of everything we say and do.

Let’s give ourselves a kick in the pants! There should be no excuses for being Bible-less. We should be red-faced concerning our biblical ignorance … but then move on from our embarrassment by doing something about it … by determining to be Bible-more.

Will you help shake things up? The modern world was created because the Bible helped Western civilization discover how reading and thinking is grounded in the fact that truth is knowable. The postmodern world could likewise benefit if Christians became Bible-more … if Christians, through knowing and living out God’s Word, helped postmoderns discover the truth that sets them free.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018
2 Corinthians 4:5


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Reading the Bible Aloud

Reading the Bible aloud has been a Bible engagement practice since Old Testament (e.g. 2 Kings 23:2) and New Testament times (e.g. 1 Timothy 4:13), and continues today as a spiritual practice in every community of faith. But sadly, while reading the Bible aloud happens in most churches most every week, it isn’t always done well. So here’s a shout-out for reading the Bible aloud with the esteem and reverence it deserves.

There are several things we should take into consideration when reading the Bible aloud:

Christ should be the focus of all church worship and His Word should therefore be a centrepiece in the order of service. Scripture readings should be prayerfully and thoughtfully selected and interwoven throughout the service in a way that indicates that God’s Word is more important than what we say or sing about it.

A spiritual gravitas should accompany the public reading of Scripture. Every reader should take heed how they read. Adequate preparation and practice should, in every instance when Bible reading is part of the order of service, be a pre-requisite for the person(s) selected to do the reading(s). Readers should be mindful of correct pronunciation and enunciation.

An understanding of the genre of Scripture should inform the way the Bible is read. Poetry shouldn’t be read like prophecy or apocalyptic literature, a didactic passage shouldn’t be read like a genealogy, and a narrative discourse shouldn’t be read like a legal list of priestly duties.

Reading the Bible aloud requires a measure of performance. The emotional nature of the Scriptures should be communicated verbally. A lament should always be read with a sense of pathos, the miracles should always be read with wonder and awe, passages about God’s grace and mercy should be read with heartfelt appreciation, and accounts of sin should always be read with feelings that express grief or sorrow.

The aim of all public reading of the Word should be to draw the listener to Christ. We read the Scriptures to invite the community of faith to know and be known by the Word. And we should read in a way that expects and encourages God’s people to obey the Word.

Readings should be long enough to provide adequate context and understanding. When there are multiple readings in a church service, they should be integrated and connected with the other elements of the service. This requires planning, prayer and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, while we read the Bible to one-another, we’re ultimately reading the Word to an audience of One. When we read the Bible aloud, we’re reading it to the King of kings. Let’s keep this in mind, the One who is the Word is the One who listens to us reading His Word. So when reading the Bible aloud, picture yourself before the holy One seated on the throne, then read to bring honour and glory to Him.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018
2 Corinthians 4:5