Pastor's Pen

Reading the Bible

freely-2300

Reading the Bible  

Dear Precious Saints of MBC,

I trust you are doing well and looking forward to Sunday!   
 
Stanley Hauerwas is a professor at the Divinity School at Duke University. He wrote a book entitled Unleashing the Scriptures: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America. Hauerwas is not an evangelical, but many hang on his every word. He writes:
 
Most North American Christians assume that they have a right, if not an obligation, to read the Bible. I challenge that assumption. No task is more important than for the Church to take the Bible out of the hands of individual Christians in North America. Let us no longer give the Bible to all children when they enter the third grade or whenever their assumed rise to Christian maturity is marked, such as eighth-grade commencements. Let us rather tell them and their parents that they are possessed by habits far too corrupt for them to be encouraged to read the Bible on their own...
To suggest that the Bible should be taken away from North American Christians will strike many as absurd. They may assume that I am not serious. Is it not the very hallmark of Christianity, particularly Protestant Christianity, to encourage people to read the Bible? I certainly believe that God uses the Scripture to help keep the Church faithful, but I do not believe, in the Church's current circumstance, that each person in the Church thereby is given the right to interpret the Scripture...
The reformation doctrine of sola scriptura, joined to the invention of the printing press and underwritten by the democratic trust in the intelligence of the "common person," has created the situation that now makes people believe that they can read the Bible "on their own." That presumption must be challenged, and that is why the Scripture should be taken away from Christians in North America.
I am aware that this suggestion cannot help appearing authoritarian and elitist. I am not, however, particularly bothered by such characterizations, because I am challenging the very presumption that communities can exist without authority.
Many today abuse the scriptures and misinterpret and misapply them, however, taking the Bible away will not solve the problem. A far better solution is what Moses suggested:
And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
 
See you on Sunday!
 
In the light of His glory and grace,   
 
Pastor Doug