It probably goes without saying that the Bible is important to Christian people, but why is it important and what is it exactly? These are not new or startling questions, but if we aren’t reminded, they can be hard to answer.
Thankfully, Christian people have been asking and answering questions just like these for a long time.
First, the Bible is not as much of a book as it is library between two covers. You might even think of it as two libraries stuck together. The first library is what we call the Old Testament. It is a collection of stories, histories, poems, prophecies, and wisdom that centers around the relationship between a god named Yahweh and his people, Israel.
The second library is called the New Testament. This library contains four Gospels, one historical narrative, a bunch of letters, and something called an apocalypse. It centers around a man named Jesus of Nazareth and the community of people that followed him while he was alive, and after he died and rose again.
Second, the Bible is both a divine and a human book. People outside of the Christian faith will more than likely reject the divine nature of the book. People inside the Christian faith often forget the human nature of the book. Much like Jesus was both God and human, the Bible is both divine and human. To leave out part of the equation is to deny the true nature of the book, and thus to put up a roadblock to understanding it. The Bible itself never claims to be written by God, instead, the Bible claims to be written by humans who were inspired by God.
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16, NRSV)
Third, the Bible is meant to be read, usually out loud. In the days when the books that made up the Bible were put to paper, many people could not read, and even if they could, copies of these books were hard to come by. Remember that this was way before the invention of the printing press and Bible had to be carefully copied by hand. These books were precious because they could not be easily mass-produced. So how did God’s word get to the masses? It was read out loud. Consider this blessing at the beginning of the book of Revelation:
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3, NRSV)
This is why we have adopted scripture readings as a part of our weekly worship here at Port Caddo Baptist Church. We want people to experience the Bible as it was meant to be experienced: read out loud in a group setting.
Of course, we also have the advantage in our time and place of being literate people who do have the technology of the printing press. Our Bibles are not chained to pulpits. Instead, we have the privilege and responsibility to study the Word in our own homes. We can get printed copies fairly cheap, and even find our scriptures online.
Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or comments and stay tuned for more!