Tag Archives: Bible

No Bibles in churches?

One advantage to visiting around Churches so much is that we get to see a wide variety of good preaching and good choirs…and of course, some not quite as good. BJ and I also look for good Sunday School classes, or small groups, or whatever you want to call them. One of the things I’ve noticed, and I’m not sure if it is just Southern Baptists doing this or other denominations do as well, but many Southern Baptist Sunday School classes don’t even break out a Bible!

Let me explain…

I like to find Sunday School classes with folks that aren’t afraid to speak up and talk about the material they (hopefully) studied. I do not enjoy sitting through a small group “sermon.” I’m prepared to listen to the Pastor’s sermon, but I want the small group to participate, to actually try to figure out how to apply lessons to our own lives.

But I digress…

Most SBC Sunday Schools now use published educational material. Or, I should say most of the ones we’ve been to the last 10 years, including those in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. This material, generally a study through one book or two from the Bible, contains the verses, explanations of the scripture and why it’s relevant to us today…and then some questions for us to ponder upon finishing. There’s no “reason” to pick up your Bible at all because it’s all right there…in the handy little study guide.

I find it odd that a denomination that preaches so much on the inerrancy of the scripture and the ideas that believers must “stand” on the word and all that stuff has—or is in the process of—doing away with the very thing they’re standing on. Okay, it’s not that they’re really “doing away” with it, but why on earth would they continue to encourage it’s non-use via members? Why would churches continue to use material that allows members to keep their Bibles closed?

I think maybe it’s because Church members have become lazy in their use of the Bible and Bible study. What’s happened is that Lifeway, the Southern Baptist Convention’s version of Barnes and Noble, is producing “education material” for the mass of Baptist churches and the Baptist churches are gobbling it up. If you’ve never seen the Lifeway material, I’m not suggesting it is bad, but I am suggesting it is making believers lazy. Lifeway Sunday School material prints the scripture verses for the lesson in both KJV (for the old folks in the SBC: “Hey, if the KJV was good enough for St. Paul, it’s good enough for me!”) and in the Holman Standard, or the Lifeway owned Bible.

And don’t think I’m picking on Lifeway, most of the material out there is doing it—Lifeway is just the most popularly purchased. Lifeway, like any other material, has some good stuff and some bad stuff.

But my whole point is that I think Churches should be using material that encourages members to actually open their Bible and not just the study book. Who knows, they might get interested in the chapter they’re reading and actually read a little more!


Filed under Columns

Writing excuses

I wrote the other day that all stories have a point, etc. and that those points generally reflect—intentionally or unintentionally—the views/opinions of the author. One of the things that has constantly given me both frequent chuckles and frequent confusion is when “Christian writers” try not to be Christian.

I’m still learning my way around the Christian fiction market, having only become a believer in 2000 but before I go on, let me be very clear in that I don’t think that every person who claims to be Christian must write Christian material. I think it’s probably a logical step in the progress (I want to see the new Pilgrim’s Progress movie! Anyone seen it?) of a believer, but I don’t think it’s a necessity.

However, I do find it funny to hear Christian writers try to get out from any responsibility as a writer. “It’s not me writing the graphic sex scene or cussing, it’s the characters.” This is just laughable. As the writer/author, the responsibility for all material falls on us. We have it within our power to change the words we do not like.

Writers have a responsibility to their audience not just to give them good reading material, but to be the writer they claim to be. Thus, if a writer claims to be “Christian,” then that writer owes it to his audience to write material that reflects that.

“Oh!” we’ve heard them say, “but that’s the way they really talk on the street.” So. So what?

When Jesus spoke with tax collectors, prostitutes and drunks, he didn’t participate in their activities—he pointed out their errors and told them—quite bluntly—to STOP it!

One of the most recent waves of excuses for overstepping the bounds in “Christian writing” is when the writers claim they don’t write “Christian fiction,” but they are a Christian who writes fiction. I do understand the point they’re attempting to make, but the only person they’re really trying to convince of their “rightness” is themselves…well, and maybe their editor who’s sitting on the same fence.

Or those who want to disguise their message and call it “allegory” and then point to the masters Tolkien and Lewis. The first question I always want to ask them is why they are ashamed of their Christianity. I’m reminded of the song pre-schoolers learn about hiding their lights under bushels. J

One of the things I like about the Bible and its depiction of believers is that there is no middle-ground. You’re either in…or you’re out. Smarter Bible thumpers than me can quickly find the passage which suggests God spits out the luke-warm believer.

And I know that, I, for one, do not want to be Godly spit!


Filed under General