I come from a religious tradition that truly loves Scripture. Well, love might be the wrong word; “worship” might be a more accurate term. This love/worship of Scripture for the church and for the individual has been both a blessing and a curse.
On the blessing side, I grew up learning, memorizing and reciting Scripture. It was important for us to know what the text said. Each Sunday my brother and I, along with all the other kids, would bound into the church building prepared to recite the week’s text which had been given to us as a memory verse the previous week. For each properly regurgitated text we would get a star by our names on the bulletin board and the pride that comes along with knowing that we knew something that all the adults told us that we should know. Therefore, by the time I left home for college, I knew what the Bible said. That’s the blessing side.
The curse side is that the love/worship of Scripture turns the Bible into a idol. In those same churches that taught me so much Scripture, I–along with scores of others–learned that the Bible was the important thing, and everything else was secondary at best. Everything. Jesus wasn’t even the point, except in terms of what the Bible said about Jesus. And don’t even get started talking about the Holy Spirit. We couldn’t quantify it, so many people within our fellowship held the position that the Holy Spirit was only operative up until we got, you guessed it, the Bible.
Now, of course, I’m not against the Bible, I like the Bible, but I think it would be wise for us realize the text of the Bible isn’t the point of the Bible. The Scriptures point to Jesus and the God who sent Him into the world not back to itself. After all, at this point in world events, there have been more Christians in history who worshiped God without the Bible as we know it than have had the Bible, and the church seemed to manage okay.
This week I was lead to think about this as I was reading Bill Willits book, “Creating Community: 5 Keys to Building a Small Group Culture.” Willits writes succinctly, “Biblical literacy is important for people to become lifelong self-learners of the Scriptures and doers of the word. But in and of themselves, I would suggest they aren’t the goal.”