What Do You Believe About the Bible?
- Sunday, April 01, 2007
Let me tell you why it is so important for us to remember the importance of the Bible as an influence on our lives. As in a relay race there are other teams on the field who are also trying to win. There are Muslim or Islamic groups who are trying to win over the hearts and minds of our young people. There are cultural values that are being communicated through movies, TV programs, hip-hop music and videos that are trying to shape the values of our young people. There are movies, songs and video games that glamorize and cheapen sexual activity of all kinds; despite the fact that we live in a world where sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS is the single largest cause of death among many groups in the African-American community. There is the endless celebration of the drug culture and the use of cocaine, heroin or other illegal substances. Everything I have just named represents another team on the field that is competing for the hearts and minds and values of our children.
How can we equip and prepare our young people to successfully complete their race through life in a world that puts all of these obstacles and temptations in their path? Shall we be sure they have all enrolled in a course in world literature with a concentration on Shakespeare and Chaucer? I think not! The answer, at least in part, is that those of us who are currently adults must be sure that we are passing on to the next generation the teachings and wisdom found in the Bible. First, our young people must see us living by the lessons of the Bible and they must see us studying and reading the Bible for ourselves. Then we must teach it to them, commend it to them and pass it on to them as something as sacred and important as anything we might bequeath to them in our will.
Here is the vulnerability of the Bible: it is at risk of being lost forever whenever any present generation fails or refuses to pass it on to the next generation. Harold Bloom is not the first person to say that the Bible should be dropped in favor of some other books and literary influences. There have long been people who dismissed the relevance of the Bible. Now here is the power of the Bible; that from approximately 1200 BC to the present time, or a period of time of 3300 years one generation of people has been passing this book on to the next without fail. Now the Bible is in the hands of the present generation and it is our turn not just to live by its teachings, but also to pass them on to our children.
I want to submit to you that we need to pay attention to this issue, because while Harold Bloom may not be able to influence those of us who are already established in our faith in Christ and in the scriptures, there is proof that this non-biblical approach to living is taking root in our society. There is a word that has made its way into the vocabulary of contemporary American society, and that word is post-modernism. While that word applies in many different ways, it has one meaning in particular where the life of the church is concerned. The post-modern generation refers to this current generation of younger people who prefer spirituality in general over salvation in the name of Jesus and who no longer have a working knowledge of the Bible. For the first time in history there is a generation on the scene that has not been given, or has not been willing to receive the lessons of the Bible.
This applies primarily to people who are thirty years of age and under, and most people in that group can neither begin nor end any of the stories of the Bible. They are not familiar with the various characters of the Bible. They do not consider the teachings of the Bible when they are making decisions about their lives. If you were to say to them that "the Bible says," they would not be impressed and would not be inclined to be responsive to that message.
For many people in this group the Bible is just another book; no more or less valuable than any other book they might read or consult. For that matter, Christianity is just another religion and Jesus Christ is just another person; no more important or significant than any of the other religions or religious teachers who have come and gone in human history. This group exists because in recent years we have become less intent on passing the Bible on to the next generations. And unless we are aggressive at this moment in time we may give birth to an entire generation of people who know more about P Diddy than they do about Peter and Paul. They will know more about Jay Z than they do about Jesus Christ!
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