What If No One Had A Bible?

What If No One Had A Bible? November 27, 2017

Try to imagine it: No Bibles anywhere. No King James. No NIV. Not even a paperback copy of “The Message”.

What would that be like?


Image via Pixabay
Image via Pixabay



Regardless of how such a thing might happen, try to imagine what it would be like to never have access to the Bible – ever again.

In some ways, I think our world might actually be a better place if no one had a Bible anymore. 

Maybe if we didn’t depend on a book for everything we’d start to discover an inner desperation and a hunger for a deeper experience of Jesus.

Not only that, if there were no Bibles, we just might start to value listening to one another share testimonies of Jesus. Especially if there was no more need to hear from the resident Bible expert or scholar talk for an hour every weekend.

Imagine sitting in your living room with friends and listening to people share what Jesus was saying or doing in their lives that week. Imagine someone closing their eyes and quoting verses about how nothing can separate us from the love of God, or about how Jesus died for us while we were still enemies of God?

Don’t you think this might help us to connect with one another – and with Jesus – more directly?

Maybe I’m the only one, but the more I think about this the more convinced I am that we might just be better off without our Bibles.

Now, I get it. I’m talking about what it would be like to first learn what the Bible says and study it and memorize it before experiencing those words in a deeper and more intimate way.

But, what if we only had our memories of scripture to sustain us? What if we could only pass on to our children the verses that really spoke deeply to us? What verses would we choose?

Probably verses where Jesus says, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” and “Love one another as I have loved you” would dominate your memory.

Perhaps you’d want your children to remember certain Parables that Jesus shared, like the Prodigal Son, or the Treasure in the Field or the Sower of Seeds.

Chances are you probably wouldn’t find it all that crucial to memorize verses where God commanded His people to slaughter every man, woman, and child and warned them not to show any compassion while doing so. You might leave behind the verses about how blessed those people are who dash infants against the rocks.

That, to me, would be a very good thing.

If all we had left was Jesus and our memories of scriptures that really touched us and profoundly changed us, that wouldn’t be so bad.

What do you think?


Keith Giles is the author of several books, including the Amazon best-seller “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb.”

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • A J MacDonald Jr

    Question: When should we walk away from a Christian teacher or preacher?
    Answer: When they walk away from the holy Bible.

  • summers-lad

    I think we can get somewhere towards an answer if we look at the time when most people were illiterate, so couldn’t read the Bible for themselves, or to countries where Bibles are forbidden or restricted, and most Christians have to live without one. I don’t think either of these is a benefit.

  • Tim Aagard

    We could lament that the current use of God’s Word by God’s people in America is so low that it might be better if no one had a Bible. But lacks a thoughtful examination of why the personal and communal and witness use of God’s Word is so low in spite of the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars of the “giving” of God’s people is going to buy hired Bible experts to lecture the Bible to them every week with no one ever graduating from this alleged “teaching” ministry. I see two things:

    1. I can’t find in the Bible where God ever asked for this professionalized routine to dominate the gathering of God’s people. I can’t see how “preach the word, in season and out of season” can be exposited to mean strictly lecture the word by one man for the whole time with zero participation by any other believer. Preach certainly means to speak, articulate, or communicate, but the rest of these narrow parameters are not requested by God AND force God’s people to consume 84% of their “giving” to buy the staffing and facilities (Leadership Journal’s article on “normal church budgeting”. This is gross consumerism in what believers claim is godly.
    2. I find in God’s Word very specific instructions for believers to be prepared with God’s Word to speak it, teach it, prophecy it, exhort it, etc when they meet together in full two way communication. Col. 3:16 tells us the “word of Christ will dwell in us richly” as we “teach and admonish one another”. “Richness” does not flow through technical Bible expertise gained from an elevated Bible degree at a seminary. Ordinary marketplace and home-place ministers can do this. The same with Hebrews 10:24,25, and many others. Believers are systemically outsourcing their personal responsibility to make use of their direct connection to the greatest teacher – the Holy Spirit – to hired men so the saints can be primarily spectators and mere listeners for their “worship” hour. I realize most believers have never seen church done any other way that the pulpit and pew routine, but it’s in their Bible and I have just told them where to look.

    Does this scripture have any authority for your life or is it merely one option of many you can choose from?

  • The Word of God speaks to you. The Bible is silent.
    The Word of God lives within you. The Bible isn’t alive.
    The Word of God will never leave you. The Bible can be lost.
    The Word of God died for you. The Bible isn’t alive.
    The Word of God loves you. The Bible does not.
    Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is a book.

  • Mike Poteet

    It’s an intriguing premise, but I don’t agree with it. The canon of Scripture is there because we need to be not only moved and touched and changed, but challenged – repeatedly and often. We are all selective in how we read the Bible already; the lack of a standard text would only make that tendency worse.

  • Shirley Blake

    I think that’s the problem many people are preaching the Bible. Few are living it.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    Most obvious flaw: If we had no Bible, we have no God, no Jesus, no redemption, no, well, nothing the Bible tells us about… But hey, what do I know… 😉

  • Rudy Schellekens

    Cute – but without the Bible, I would not know what or who is speaking to me. One of my favorite books is the Encyclopedia of evil serial killers. Obviously, because of the title, because is there such a thing as a benign or good serial killer!
    But I digress. This book speaks of people “hearing voices,” telling them hurt others, kill them in the end. If we are to heed just “voices,” we are in a world of problems.

    And again, the ONLY way I know about God and His expectations, His plans, His blessings is through that word…

  • Rudy Schellekens

    True – but that is not the Bible’s fault now, is it?

  • Notice in the article where I said: “Now, I get it. I’m talking about what it would be like to first learn what the Bible says and study it and memorize it before experiencing those words in a deeper and more intimate way. But, what if we only had our memories of scripture to sustain us? What if we could only pass on to our children the verses that really spoke deeply to us? What verses would we choose?”

    So, my point is not to imagine that there never was a Bible, but to imagine our lives if we started to experience it and move beyond reading it to live it out.

    Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/keithgiles/2017/11/no-one-bible/#zgMTyOLX4UygasGs.99

  • Myles

    The world would be less screwed up because the religious evil would have less power.

  • Myles


  • Sue Harris

    I want to give this about a hundred likes. I’m tired of hearing people tell me what to think. I’m tired of telling other people what to think. I want to live by works and by faith, and follow Jesus – the Word incarnate. I want to sit down with others and ask, what does it mean we should DO? And I agree, the verses we have by heart are the beloved and true ones.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    IF we only had our memories to sustain us, whose memories would be the better, the more valuable? Ask eye witnesses about what just happened in front of their eyes. You can warn them: I’m going to ask you questions later.Their memories would not be clear enough to make a consistent story – within ten minutes or so after the event actually took place. I was part of an experiment in just that. And I was shocked how “bad” my memory actually was. Even in legal matters eye-witnesses are not considered the best source of information about events; and the further away they are from the event, the more unreliable their memories will be.

  • Everett Kier Jr

    Sadly, this article does not surprise me at all. I leads me to ask again a question that often comes to my mind when reading so many of the articles on the progressive thread…”what is the incentive for keeping the word Christian?” I am growingly convinced the word Christian is a rather useless stringing together of letters. It means nothing.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    Considering that the Bible has many, many translations and was written by men in a male dominated society, where women were considered to be merely chattel, frankly the 21st century would be better off without the Bible. Think of what the right wing Evangelicals, and Catholics do with the Bible. They want to make us think that it is history, instead of stories, told and retold.
    The Earth would still revolve around the Sun, unlike what the Bible thought in that day, when it was thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth! We would do well without the Bible.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    You really want to “live the Bible??????” Well, does the Sun revolve around the Earth??? The Bible says it does. Do you take your disobedient child/children to “the gates of the city for stoning to death??????” The Bible says you must!
    Do you think that seizures are caused by demons????? Yes, if you “live the Bible.”
    Do you think that women are chattel???? Well, friend, they are in the Bible, and if you live the Bible you “own your wife” and you “own” your daughters until they marry, when their husbands will “own” them.
    Do you eat shellfish or pork? If you do you are not living the Bible, as to do either is sinful, an abomination!
    That shirt or blouse you are wearing, read the label. Is it made of several different materials? If so, burn it, as you cannot wear garments of more than one type of thread.
    Do you believe that a woman who commits adultery should be stoned to death? You do if you Live the Bible. Why aren’t men stoned for adultery? Because the woman is his “property.” The man is not the woman’s “property,” thus the man can do as he wishes.
    Do you believe that a husband should have several wives? You do if you live that Bible.
    Just saying. Think about it.
    That Bible was written thousands of years ago by MEN in a male dominated society. Women had no say.
    Even Jesus saw that women should have status, he spoke with and worked with women, and some more enlightened folks feel that he was married.

  • I, like many others, hear the Word of God in the pages of the Holy Book.

    I also believe that those who hear the Word of God; have the Word living within, continually; for whom the Word died; who experience the love of the Word of God . . . respect and love the Bible even more!

  • It is just silly and disingenuous to apply Old Testament civil laws to New Testament living. And do so with great indignation! Especially when you definitely know that is not what the person meant.

  • Kenneth Dawson

    Owing to the dialectic of sin,the letter tends to be treated as an authority in itself.When this happens,it can even become–the strength of sin–for then it exercises such an authoritarian tyranny over peoples conscience that it enslaves them and separates them from direct relation to God–When epistemic statements take authority then there is brought into being the—authority of darkness–the letter kills but the Spirit being of God makes life

  • Lee Pfahler

    However most of the Bible was in fact passed down through oral stories for years, if not decades, until they were written down. So that begs the question, ” Just how reliable is the Bible in its accuracy to those original events and sayings?”

  • Paul Meier

    One of my concerns about Christianity in the 21st century is the growing requirement to believe the Old Testament equally with the New Testament. We have a new witness to what God is like – Jesus, who told the Pharisees (five times in the Gospel of John), “You don’t know God.” We also need the apostle Paul to come back and write a letter to Christians in the West explaining for a second time that it’s no longer necessary to follow the Jewish Laws if you follow Jesus. The New Testament says Jesus has revealed the Father to us. A second concern is that even the New Testament is not translated according to first century understandings of key terms. It was translated into English, as others have pointed out, by a patriarchal, male-dominated group. Translation is highly subjective and people naturally lean toward their own theology and training. Should we give up reading the Scriptures (those of us who have been doing it)? Absolutely not. Jesus had the teachings that lead to “eternal life.” I’ve done work translating and can confirm what he taught indeed leads to this end – the problem is that there is a significant translation problem that has made this hard to understand. Therefore, we must give increased authority to the word of God that is spoken into our hearts.

  • cken

    Couldn’t agree with the author more. The Bible has become an icon replacing God and Jesus. We parse the words of the Bible and take versus out of context to fit our agendas, our doctrine if you will. We get hung up in man made rules supposedly created based on the Bible and tend to forget the bigger message. It really is pretty simple: Jesus lived and died on the cross for our sins and rose again. God loves his children. All of humanity are his children. In return we are to love our neighbor (all of humanity), love God, and commit to following his will for each of us.

  • If there were no Bible, I can assure that God and Jesus would still exist.

  • Anthony Leeson

    The Catholic Church would be triumphant!

  • Shirley Blake

    Well I understand your point. I did not mean that statement in quite so literal an interpretation. More to the point. I’ll rephrase to say. Many are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, few are living the life of Christ.

  • Shirley Blake

    No, it’s the political nature of humanity. Personally, while I understand his point I don’t necessarily agree. I don’t think that absence of the Bible would change anything. There will always be those persons regardless of religious or political persuasion or the absence of religion or politics who will find excuses to judge and abuse others. We have to as a society place a value on people and compassion as opposed to profit and power.

  • “Love, love, love. All you need is Love” said the Beetles. God said otherwise whether we choose to believe everything he said or not.

  • Correct, Jesus is the Word of God! And as the Word he destroyed the First Age. Why?
    Genesis 6:5-6: Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
    With only Love to guide us we have reached the same position today. And even this condition was prophesied.

  • If what you say is true then the Bible would not be the most published book in the world.
    It claims to be the Word of God and says it will always be around; which it has been.
    Perhaps it your understanding of the bible that is lacking?

  • Rudy Schellekens

    That is ONE idea, correct. Wrong idea, but still, it’s an idea… 🙂

  • Rudy Schellekens

    And you know that how? Wait, wait, don’t tell: The Bible… 😉

  • You are on the right track. Ultimately it is up to you to learn what to believe. Listening to others and reading “helps” is just a preliminary. You have the ultimate responsibility for your beliefs and actions. Until you can explain a scripture clearly and succinctly to someone else you don’t really understand it; you are just repeating what someone else explained. If that someone is wrong then you are wrong. This takes much time and effort but you obviously have a good start; one day at a time is how I did it.

  • JD

    Are you saying god cannot communicate outside of a book?

  • No, I know that because I have a relationship with God. I hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. He is alive within me by His Spirit. If you haven’t moved beyond those words on the page, I sincerely invite you to get to know the Author because this is the entire reason He came: So that you would know Him intimately.

  • God is love. His greatest commands are to love Him and to love one another as He has loved us.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    I am very much aware of that desire. And have written about it for the last 30 years, preached and taught about it for the past 30 years. Practiced it for almost 50 years. Even wrote a dissertation on it.
    I need the Book to measure my feelings, thoughts against. And if I think I hear the voice of Him, I need to check what I hear by what I can read – making sure the voice I hear is the One speaking, rather than emotions or feelings or impressions.

  • JD

    And the beauty is that we don’t need a book to understand love.

  • And how do we express that love? Who sets the standards? Where are they to be found?
    The two great commandments are not without details: they are summaries of the ten commandments.

  • If you don’t really know how to express love, then get to know the God who is LOVE better. That’s the whole point. If you need a clue, Paul gives us a very good description in 1 Cor. 13. [Yes, that’s in the Bible].

  • roger ragland

    The stories that made up most of the Bible were passed down for centuries before they were ever written down and composed into a single cohesive document. If these stories could survive so long, I imagine God can still exist without paper today.

  • As I mentioned, Love seems to be expressed in different ways by different people. Without the standards it is possible to have different outcomes. The standards are in the bible also.

    For example, many on this site are Pro-Choice not Pro-Life. How is Pro-Choice an expression of Love?

  • Lee Pfahler

    So how do you explain where the texts in the original languages came from?

  • Chari McCauley

    and commit to following his will for each of us. Which is to love our siblings the same way He loves us. His only Son, and our Oldest Brother, came to say and live in front of us, the same thing. Gave His flesh’s comfort for it. We didn’t actually kill Him, only the flesh.

    Father said, (paraphrased) Don’t steal from each other. Don’t lie to or about each other. His Son said, pretend it is YOU this is happening to, how will YOU feel if someone comes to steal your family, land, money, reputation, freedom, life….?

    How often does “war” happen as an act of “revenge” because someone came along and did any of the above to someone, until they got angry enough to strike back?
    What does “Honor among thieves” mean, exactly?

    If I lie to or about you, would you ever be able to trust me?

  • Chari McCauley

    His Father wrote, by hand, TEN (10) instructions about keeping peace (Don’t steal from or lie to each other, this includes both Father AND Mother, if I can read). Everything else is suspect (Both Isaiah and Jeremiah make this apparent.), because kids are always testing the boundaries. His Son said, think how you would feel if YOU were treated this way, by ANYONE, especially people you should be able to trust would never lie to you or hurt you or steal from you?

  • Chari McCauley

    It will still hurt if you are the victim.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    But that was not the issue, was it? The ONLY way we know about the commandments is…?

  • Chari McCauley

    Somebody older than we are already learned that if you do these things to each other it will hurt, and eventually trust and peace will erode.

    See, we don’t have to accept advice from people who did, but eventually we will learn truth.

  • Chari McCauley

    Wrong idea, but still,

    Please elaborate what you think.

  • Chari McCauley

    True, plus our belief or disbelief does not threaten the existence of The Oldest Living Minds, at all; no matter what form of clothing They choose to wear, in order to reach a child.

    If WE can form children in a test tube, They can do a much better job with Their time in, and Their patrence. And, The Oldest Living Minds NEVER refuse to learn anything NEW, the difference between smart and wise. Just because you Can do something does not mean you SHOULD do it, just to prove you can.

  • Chari McCauley

    Exactly! Do students learn from textbook only; or, do they need practical application, also?

    Would you be willing to be the…very first…patient a new surgeon, fresh out of the clssroom performs his very first “real-time” cut on? And, you hope he did his own homework, too, right? Didn’t cheat or anything. Again with that “can you trust a person” issue.

  • cken

    I think to follow God’s will for each of us goes beyond the great commandments, in as much as His specific will for you may be different than His will for me.

  • Chari McCauley

    However, the foundation applies to all…Don’t steal from each other. Don’t lie to or about each other. His Son said, pretend it is YOU this is happening to, how will YOU feel if someone comes to steal your family, land, money, reputation, freedom, life? The pain of these things is the same, no matter who receives it.

  • Chari McCauley

    Neither does The Father or His Son; They have been living the truth fo quite awhile. They are NOT magicians, who work off of illusions; They are scientists. They also bake the best bread (flesh) and make the best wine (blood).

    Heaven’s libraries are vast, though. Every good scientist keeps notes, don’t they?

  • Chari McCauley

    Well, there is only One Oldest Living Father, and His care for His children is global. So, if His Son was doing His Father’s will, the salvation from His death is global.

  • Chari McCauley

    A child hears words spoken before they understand what the words mean. A child learns a LOT before they know how to read.
    You can break the heart and spirit of any child by your words. Why do you think the NT places so much emphesis on words?

    Some people have managed to build money making empires, and did not know how to read.

  • Spirit Plumber

    I’m actually interesting in writing a sci fi scenario centered around this, honestly.

    Suppose that you have a civilization that was started by people who successfully escaped the Second Coming via starship. The only copy of the Bible is integrated into one of the databases of the quasi-AI that serves as the civilization’s accountant. Could there still be Christians at that point? How might someone decide that the God that they have run away from and plan to eventually pick a fight with for possession of the Earth is in fact not the bad guy?

  • JD

    Keith: “God is love. His greatest commands are to love Him and to love one another as He has loved us.”

    I’ve always thought that first one is backwards. It should be: “You are loved.” Imagine realizing from your first conscious moment that you are loved beyond measure. From your first breath you are loved, you are loved, you are loved. Once you realize that the second commandment just comes naturally.

  • Alan Christensen

    The Word of God would still exist too, in our hearts and in the living tradition of God’s people. And supremely in Jesus himself. I take your “no Bible” proposition to be a little bit of provocative hyperbole, but I find it instructive that nowhere in the Bible is “Word of God” equated with “Bible.”

  • I think you’re on to something… 🙂