We need teachers.
In a previous post1 I argued that the Bible is easy to read and understand. And it is. This is why I focus so much on literacy. Once I get my children past a third grade reading level, I feel a relief, I guess. This is an important milestone -- now, they can read the Bible themselves.
Reading is more than understanding the individual words, decoding. It takes more time and study to grasp nuances and differences in points of view for instance -- not to mention parts of speech and the effect of comma placement. Learning to read is as much a one time thing as it is part of a lifetime of study and learning.
It occurred to me this morning that I have often held literacy up as the gold standard for Christians -- measuring my brothers and sisters in the Lord by it. Some I considered to be at a high level of Christianity and others low because of their ability to read, understand, and quote Scripture. True, the Bible is our sacred text; we know the Lord through his Word. We ought to know it. Still, knowing will be different for different people.
I used to think that those who could read Scripture without the aid of a teacher were more spiritual than those who needed a teacher all of the time. I am learning that this is not so.
I've been trying to read the Bible in its entirety this year. My aim is to read it fairly quickly as a book -- in big chunks. My hope is to get a better understanding of the overarching story from the mouth of the Bible itself -- of God himself.
It has been hard. February is nearly over and I am still crawling through Genesis. I don't think I'm going to make it. I read a large portion of the Old Testament in college, at least through 2 Chronicles -- probably in the amount of time I've spent just in one book now. Ugh.
I used to think that those who could read Scripture without the aid of a teacher were more spiritual than those who needed a teacher all of the time.
Whether I get to the end or don't, I realize that up till now I have depended on others to understand what the Bible says overall. Furthermore, if you've ever read a book, you know that in a short time you will have forgotten most of the details regardless of how interested in them you were at first. You may well forget the whole story.
I love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; it is my favorite book by far. I've read it several times in full and in part, and I have a couple copies in digital and print form. One is a beautiful pop-up book by Robert Sabuda that my husband gave me on our wedding day nearly ten years ago -- it is one of my most dear possessions. There is a lot that I can tell you about Alice and the Rabbit and the Hatter and the Queen, of course. I can tell you the basic storyline also with some effort, but I may get some details of order wrong. I won't be able to tell you much about the dialogue, even when it was essential to the text. I might not even be able to identify a quote from Alice, let alone quote it myself.
I was an English major in school. Reading is important to me. Writing is important to me. I think people ought to be highly literate.
I understand today that this is my prejudice.
If you were offended by me at some time in this way, please forgive me. Even if it's tomorrow; I'm still learning too.
We need teachers.
I've found children's Bibles to be helpful in learning the story of the Bible. The Big Picture Story Bible is my favorite.
There are others. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally-Loyd Jones is popular, and it is one that my children enjoy reading on their own. There's a new one called The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark that I'd like to get my hands on next.
I'll tell you a secret. I've always had a hard time with History. It was one of my worst subjects in school -- the other was Physics. If I was in school now, it would still be a struggle. It's too complicated, and the books are too long. My solution -- children's picture books. I'm not kidding. Check it out in the library. You can learn a surprising amount in picture books (and the occasional documentary).
Speaking of movies, the TV series The Bible is worth seeing and pretty accurate from the parts I've seen. It's not a documentary, of course. And if you can only choose one -- read the book or watch the movie; always choose the book.
Your best resource is your local church and the leaders the Lord has given you there. In addition to them, I've found the podcasts, freely downloadable books, and other materials at Desiring God.org to be immensely helpful.
I noticed this previous post I mentioned was only an idea saved in drafts and never a fully developed, published piece. Sorry, I do that. ↩