It is fair to say that The Bible is one of the texts of which everyone should have a good working knowledge. It informs so much of the cultural landscape of the western world that it is naïve to suggest that it is an irrelevant text. The English student in me is pressing to suggest that there are, in fact, many other texts that should also be known but that point is currently not important. Allow me to reiterate my main point more clearly.
It is essential, to be a culturally literate member of western society, to have a good working knowledge of the Bible. Think of the literature, films, art, television, music, sculpture, even architecture that is influenced by this one awesome text. In order to grasp it, we must first grasp the Bible.
The problem is, as numbers have shown, few people do. I wonder how many of these people also class themselves as exquisitely culturally literate. I venture one further, dear friends, and suggest that we, as Christians, cannot sit back and be smug and think ‘I know my Bible! I’m not one of them’ because that is not really true.
One of the arguments I come up against time and time again from my Militant Atheist friends is ‘How can you preach to us when you don’t know what you’re preaching?’ Their point is fair. So often it is to hear of good pious Christian folk preaching the importance of reading the Word without reading it themselves. Shame on us! I know I am as guilty as the next (wo)man. I read my favourite passages time and time again but the rest is largely an untrod path.
Perhaps before we start lamenting the state of Biblical Literacy in the UK as a very large area in general, we should lament the state of Biblical Literacy in ourselves. The Reformation put the scripture in the hands of the people and now, it seems, we are fighting hard to put it back in the hands of the clergy.
What do I suggest as action? I suggest you think about your own stance on this matter. Do you read regularly? Have you read the whole book – even just once?
If we are to be known by our actions, this is a good one to start with!
Great post here from one of CODEC's research student's, Harriet Earle.