Today’s essay on the Daily Episcopalian has provoked a lot of comment.
The Rev. George Clifford says that perhaps reading the Bible indiscriminately and only as a devotional tool de-values the Bible, hurts the church, and inadequately prepares Christians.
If we really believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God and contain all things necessary to salvation (Book of Common Prayer, 513, 526, 538), then the Church needs to get serious about Bible study. Classes for youths and adults could offer the substantive introduction to the Old and the New Testaments similar to those in seminaries but appropriately geared to level of academic achievement.
Ironically, encouraging devotional reading of the Bible, with its implicit promise of relatively effortless access to God, devalues Scripture and insultingly presumes that people lack the intellectual ability and spiritual commitment to engage in serious Bible study…. Better yet, groups of Christians, after completing introductory studies, might gather for Bible study with commentaries, Bible dictionaries, historical references, and other resources.
Reading the Bible with understanding is hard work; perceiving God’s light is even more difficult. Dumbing down the process demeans God’s people, alienates many, and forms a dead church in the image of biblical literalism rather than the living God.