I just finished reading a post that was deeply concerned about the Bible literacy of the Pastors Osteen (Joel and Victoria) (Post: http://danielbwallace.com/2014/09/01/pastor-osteen-and-christian-narcissism-symptom-of-a-larger-problem/#comment-19764). Read it, you’ll find I liked it. But I will admit that as I read it and read the replies that came in to it I became more and more introspective about the value of Bible literacy.
I recently listened to a course on the New Testament Canon (http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/history-of-the-bible-the-making-of-the-new-testament-canon.html) and as I listened it became daunting. Yes, I went to school for this stuff. Yes, I know that Bible scholars are historians and may not even be believers. But I begin to feel like I am placing God on a lab table and dissecting Him. I remember in College that there were people in New Testament studies whose worlds were rocked by the idea that the Apostle John very likely did not write the Gospel of John with his own hand. I am not here to argue authorship. I am saying that this was more than many could take. It sent them off to examine the basis of their faith as a whole.
The question this has me asking myself is whether we are being faithful to Jesus calling to an easy yoke and a light burden. Jesus boiled all the law and the profits down to two things, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. He seems to me to be repeatedly frustrated or angry at those who try to complicate it even a little bit past that. Yet we spend hours ruminating over how we have communion, whether we should wear hats, and just how saved we are.
I am not a simpleton. I get that the Pastorate needs to understand the origins of the Bible. We have to understand the Old Testament to even grasp who Jesus really is historically and theologically. We need to understand why our doctrine is what it is. (…but act like we don’t understand the other guy’s J) It is not OK for us to simply repeat the mantra from the mother ship.
How long have everyday folks been able to read the Bible? I actually had to stop myself from looking it up. J Not the point, right? How many members of the Clergy have never read the entire Bible? Who many laymen actually have?
From time to time I worry that we look past Jesus simple calling to Love God and Love His children. We fill our sermons with deep research and our songs with great content. I have to admit that sometimes have to believe in spite of my education. That my education makes it harder. Let’s not over complicate this.