Many Christians like to think that they take the Bible as it stands, but in reality they take the Bible as they understand it. What we get out of the Bible often has as much to do with what we bring to the text as with the text itself. Differing biblical interpretations often arise from the different theological grids that are imposed on scripture.
"The man who delivers my groceries wants a Bible,” my mother said, “but he doesn’t know which one. What shall I tell him?” I should have had a ready answer for her, but I did not. It was a big question, after all. If she had asked me to recommend a life partner for her deliveryman, I could not have taken the matter more to heart. Say you have one shot at putting a Bible in someone’s hands.
When asked about the Bible course at the local public high school, a West Texas minister told the Abilene Reporter News, “My hope is the end result is they read their Bible and start asking questions elsewhere and they become Christians. That’s the hope of the community, too.”
Public schools have been a primary battleground between the despisers and defenders of religion. The forces of secularity have pounded steadily forward on the prayer front, pushing into a tiny meditative corner those who want schools to reflect and teach spiritual, and even specifically Christian, values.
Bibles are cheap. In their zeal to make scripture accessible to everyone, Protestants have manufactured Bibles in almost every language and made them available for startlingly small sums. Perhaps in doing so they have unwittingly made the Bible cheap not just financially, but theologically.
Be like the wise man who built his house on the rock.
In Papago Park, a preserve near the center of Phoenix, two small rock mountains rise up from the desert. One of them, Garden Butte, is 1.6 billion years old. The other, about half a mile away, is a youngster at only 17 million years old.
It is easy for us to underestimate the aura that surrounded a written text in the ancient world. As you read this review, you are performing something that once seemed like magic: converting signs on a printed page into human speech.
One of the comical moments in the early history of printing occurred in 1631, when the English printer Robert Barker produced an edition of the scriptures which became known as the “Wicked Bible.” This edition contained a misprint of the seventh commandment.
“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Mark 10:31). “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt. 20:16).“Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (Luke 13:30).
In a famous 1936 lecture, “The Presentation of New Testament Texts,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer proposed to the Confessing Church an alternative strategy of reading scripture. Instead of questioning the Bible from their standpoint, as the German Christians were doing, Bonhoeffer challenged them to let the Bible question them.