It is common to say — I’ve said it many times — that the Bible is more available to more people today than ever and read no more than at any time in church history. At any rate, for all its availability it’s not known or quoted as much as it ought to be. Some questions:
Should every Christian be a Bible reader? Do you read the Bible much? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Only in church? Only in Bible study?
One of the more unsaid but commonly felt problems with Bible reading today is the incredible expertise of some in knowing the Bible, in knowing about the Bible, and in know the historical and social contexts of the Bible. Leading many to think they can’t read the Bible with understanding because they are so overwhelmed — and they enjoy it — when they hear experts interpret the Bible. Question:
Do Bible experts unintentionally take the Bible out of the hands of the lay person?
One more question that comes from this consideration: I find an increasing lack of need of the Bible for many to articulate their Christian beliefs. Karl Barth or John Calvin, NT Wright or Douglas Campbell, Augustine or Aquinas… they are all part of the mix and, in fact, are the organizing center for ideas rather than the Bible.
Are you seeing a diminishing of the importance of the Bible for the formation of what Christians believe?
And then it comes to the big one, actual reading of the Bible. In his new book, Saving the Bible From Ourselves: Learning to Read the Bible and Live the Bible Well, Glenn Paauw contends:
1. We need to remove the clutter from the Bible: chapter and verse numbers, section headings, cross references, Study Bibles, and non-book-reading page layout and produce a Bible that looks like a book to be read.
2. We need to refrain from snacking on the Bible’s versifications and feast on the whole Bible.
3. We need to regain the Bible in its historical context as speaking in real time to real people.
4. We need to read the Bible book by book to find the Bible’s big story.
5. We need to ground the Bible in real earthly life and dispense with the overly otherworldly Bible.
6. We need to read the Bible with others and not just by ourselves and for ourselves.
7. We need to regain the aesthetic beauty of the Bible as it captures our imagination.
What do you think we need to do to get more people to engage the Bible’s content? What are the most important hangups in Bible reading? Do you think bad methods are why more aren’t reading the Bible?
Glenn Pauw, with Paul Caminiti and Scott Bolinder, have created the Institute for Bible Reading, and I encourage you to go their website… as you help us all answer these questions.