Why Bible Reading is Down – Part 2

BookYesterday we pondered two issues raised by Peter Enns’ article.  First, that people read the Bible in fragments, and second, that people read it a-historically.  Here is the third finding he lists:

3. Bible reading is down because people read it in isolation

Too true.  When did the “personal devotions” approach to Bible reading become the only legitimate approach to Bible reading?  I am very excited to embark on another season of Cor Deo next week . . . six months of studying God’s Word and pursuing God’s heart with a group of friends passionate to know God more.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  Perhaps you need to pray about finding someone with whom to enjoy the Bible.  Not to drown it in dull fill in the blank questions.  Not to discuss it at length until one person’s theological hobby-horses send the other to sleep.  But open-hearted delight-filled enjoyment of discovering God together.  And that is not about hunting for applications as the first order of business, but about pursuing the God who has first loved us.

Enns finishes his article by suggesting we should “read big, read real, read together.”  I agree.  Might I add that we should “read big, engage historically informed imagination and chase the personal God.”

To see Enns helpful post, click here.

I can’t help but think there may be some other important factors too.  Let me list a few and see if you would add any:

4. Bible reading is down because some preachers don’t motivate reading by their own lack of enthusiasm for enjoying Scripture (hard to be infectious if you don’t have the disease)

5. Bible reading is down because some preachers don’t expect people to actually read the Bible (and people will live down to that kind of expectation)

6. Bible reading is down because technology and instant communications is changing the way this generation engages with any books

7. Bible reading is down because preachers with an over-emphasis on application and utility has reduced the appetite for chasing God Himself (a self-focused engagement with Scripture will always diminish appetite for a revelation that works in the opposite direction)

What would you add?  And just to complete a bit of a messy post, how about a brief counterpoint too?

I wonder if Bible reading really is down?  Generally I would accept the assertion.  But among a lot of people I meet, there is a great passion for Bible reading.  These kinds of studies are always open to spin in respect to who is in the sample.  I had a conversation recently with someone asserting that the under-30’s are leaving the evangelical church in unprecedented droves. I pointed out that I don’t know any under-30’s who love Jesus who are leaving the church, and perhaps the stats may actually be pointing to nominal church-goers?  It is hard, statistically, to measure true faith.

4 thoughts on “Why Bible Reading is Down – Part 2

  1. Peter, regarding the young people you mentioned in the very last part of your essay:

    This is a great adventure we are on – greater than the human mind could ever begin to imagine. The mysteries of the universe are to a small degree being revealed to our feeble intellects. Of course, it all begins with Jesus Christ, because to encounter Him is to encounter the Great God Himself.

    So, what to do about the young people who are leaving the church in droves? Statistics aside, I think most of us have observed this. No doubt the reasons are as various as the individuals who have left – the failure of us older Christians to live for God wholly; scandalous living among some foolish evangelical leaders (and followers); scientism taught as the gospel in schools; the lures of hedonism and materialism; the lie that we can create our own meaning and purpose for our existence – the list could go on. In summary Satan continues to deceive and we humans continue to use our free wills to go our own ways.

    To get personal for a moment, I’m a former atheist who came to Christ in my mid-twenties. What a great surprise and relief it was to find that God exists and that life is not meaningless as I had believed!

    What a challenge and sorrow it is for me that my own two children, now in their early thirties, both say they are atheists!

    (This is getting a little long, sorry.)

    I pray daily for my own two not-so-young people as well as the lost, young and old, all over the world. Christ is their only hope. God is calling to them, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Isa 44:22

    “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:12-13

    (Must go off to work now. but this last promise is for us, I hope, who long to see our loved ones and many, many more, come to Christ in these latter days.)

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