Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bible Literacy & Worship

I read an interesting article today called "For The Bible Tells Me So" in the Associated Baptist Press.

Here are a couple of interesting quotes:

"If biblical literacy is so low at this point in Western history, then the God of the Bible is not the god being worshipped but rather a shallow and incomplete version of him."

In January I started to wonder what it really meant to worship "in spirit and truth." I had been taught that the "spirit" part was all the experiential, emotional stuff... and the "truth" was the special revelation that only Pentecostals possessed. Obviously, I don't believe that anymore! And it something that I've thought about many times over the last couple of months.

We don't need a degree to worship God. I don't think the "truth" is a legalistic nit-picky thing. But at the same time, there's plenty of plain truth in Scripture that shouldn't be ignored or glossed over or modified because it rhymes better or helps someone drive home a point... or contradicts someone's "experience."

I've wondered if the fascination with worship itself (and all the "experiences" that surround it in charismatic and Pentecostal circles) doesn't somehow detract from pursuing the "truth" of the Bible. In other words, experiences are lifted to a higher level than the Bible, so that the Bible is interpretted through the lens of supernatural experience when the opposite really ought to be happening.

Here's another interesting quote:

"In his 2007 book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know -- And Doesn’t, Stephen Prothero traces the decline in biblical knowledge not to the cultural upheavals of the late 1960s or the Supreme Court’s prayer rulings of the early 1960s but to the postwar Christian revivals of the 1940s and 1950s."

That's when the great "healing revivals" happened.

" members jettisoned content, and the result was a sort of nebulous common faith that President Dwight Eisenhower called “the Judeo-Christian concept.” Eisenhower encapsulated the spirit exactly when he famously said, after meeting with a Soviet official in 1952, “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is."

To worship "in spirit and truth" certainly involves having a deeply felt religious faith... but it also involves caring deeply about "what it is."

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