Thursday, February 21, 2013

How do we read our Bible?

A few weeks ago I (Denise) had a chance to hear George Guthrie speak at a conference in Richmond...I found some of what he said astounding!! The day started with some interesting stories and statistics (such as 10% of Americans think that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife ). Soon I found the day would be filled with wonderful tools that would encourage me to dig into my Bible in a way I had not done in a long time.  As the day progressed I was challenged...challenged to read more, challenged to read better and challenged to dig deeper! I came away wanting to take out some of my reference books and start searching!!

Dr Guthrie has a long list of credentials which you can read here if you choose, but the main focus of the weekend was Bible Literacy.
  • an understanding of how to read the parts of Scripture well,
  • a perspective on the Bible as a grand story God has written on the world,
  • a grasp of the themes of Scripture that thread their way powerfully and beautifully from the beginning to the end of this book of books, and
  • sound application of the Scripture to modern-day life.
Here is what he has to say on his website:

The Read the Bible for Life Biblical Literacy Initiative. 

Over the past two decades I have become increasingly concerned about the state of biblical illiteracy in the church.  In my Introduction to Bible Study classes I have asked students this question: "How many of you have ever been members of a church that offered a course or seminar on how to read and/or study the Bible well?"  In courses of 20-25 students I have never had more than 7 hands go up.  The average is about 3-4.  This semester, in a class of 20, no hands were raised. 
Also, over the past 4 years we have been giving a simple, 18-question biblical literacy quiz in a number of our survey classes at Union.  The questions are basic, multiple choice: "How many temptations did Jesus experience in the wilderness?," "Which book is from the New Testament?," "Who was the person whom Pontius Pilate released during Jesus’ trial?," etc.  In the past 3 years the average score has been a 57 on the quiz!  Our students at Union are very bright, and most of them come from church backgrounds.  Their performance on this quiz is not abnormal for students across the country at top Christian universities.  Similar quizzes at Wheaton and Seattle Pacific have similar results.
Now, biblical literacy has more to it than merely knowing Bible trivia.  For instance, it concerns reading the parts of Scripture well and understanding the "grand Story" of redemptive history, areas with which our incoming students are also unfamiliar, for the most part.  The biblical illiteracy we are witnessing in our students is part of a broader problem in the church, and we need to give attention to it.
About 3 years ago I entered a conversation with LifeWay and Broadman & Holman Publishers concerning ways we might address the problem.  By God's grace, we have embarked on a biblical literacy initiative entitled, "Read the Bible for Life."

At the heart of the initiative is a book entitled Read the Bible for Life. I encourage you to take a look. With some additional study tools such as a small group DVD and a readers guide that takes you through the Bible chronologically (in order to see the big picture) it has certainly piqued my interest!