“You can do better Phillip…..#4???”
This is a text I got a few days ago from one of my most sarcastic and best friends. It then linked me to a survey conducted by the Barna Group for The American Bible Society who was looking for “American’s Most Bible-Minded Cities.” Here’s a different link but to the same survey: Barna Group
See who’s in 4th place? That’s Springfield, MO, where I live and pastor. Yes, I could do better – in lots of areas, not just this one.
“Bible-mindedness.” What does that mean? How do you tell if you’re Bible-minded or not? According to the survey, those who “report reading the Bible within the past seven days and agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible” are classified as Bible-minded.
A couple of thoughts:
Accuracy: According to Webster, “accuracy” is “freedom from mistake or error.” Does one need to “strongly agree” that the Bible is “free from mistake or error” in everything within its pages – historical references, science references, chronology of events, details of events (For example, Mark 6:8 – Take a staff; Matthew 10:9-10 – Don’t take a staff,) to be considered Bible-minded?
This is a head scratcher. What does this definition say about guys like Dietrich Bonhoeffer – yes that Dietrich Bonhoeffer – the guy who wrote The Cost of Discipleship, a book that’s on every evangelical pastor’s book shelf? Yet, by this definition, he brings up the rear on the survey. In his book, Christ the Center, Bonhoeffer, writing of the Bible and the use of historical criticism, uses pretty clear language, “But it is through the Bible, with all its flaws, that the risen one encounters us. We must get into the troubled waters of historical criticism.”
Uh-oh. What does his view do to our understanding of what it means to be “Bible-minded”?
Does anyone question Bonhoeffer’s commitment to Christ, love for God, love for people? Does anyone question his desire to live out the life of Christ in his culture? Can we really label him as one of the “least Bible-minded”?
I’m just asking.
Going to Sunday School as a child, I remember proudly checking the box on my offering envelope that said, “I read the Bible every day last week.” As I grew up, and continue to grow up spiritually, I realized that being “bible minded” was not as simple as checking the box.
The Pharisees knew the Scriptures like the back of their hands, but when God stood right in front of them, they didn’t know him from Adam (John 5:39-40).
Here are some questions I have to ask myself – questions that aren’t so easy to check off:
*Am I more attentive to my wife than I was last year?
*Am I more generous with my resources than before?
*Do I handle disappointments and hurts with trust in the God who has the power to work all things for good?
*Do I show compassion for those who are hurting?
*Do I do justice, love mercy, and walk in humble dependence with God (Micah 6:8)?
In other words, am I allowing the Word (Jesus) to whom the words of the Bible point, to transform me into His likeness?