Informed Quoters or Informed Readers?

In his article, "The Problem of Evangelical Biblical Illiteracy" David R. Nienhuis expresses his concern regarding Biblical illiteracy among those who claim to hold the Bible in high regard. In his opinion, knowing a few isolated Bible verses or being able to answer trivia questions should not be the goal of Christian education. He writes:
Knowing that Jesus was born in Bethlehem will not in and of itself empower them to speak the language of faith. Satan's use of Scripture in tempting Jesus is clear indication that a merely cognitive level of biblical literacy does not automatically result in the formation of a Christian character. To make a real difference in people's lives, biblical literacy programs will have to do more than simply encourage believers to memorize a select set of Bible verses. They will have to teach people to speak the language of faith...Biblical literacy programs need to do more than produce informed quoters. They need to produce transformed readers.
I believe that Nienhuis is correct. While I believe that Bible memorization is a good part of educating believers, it does not exhaust the task. Here are a couple of suggestions for helping people become transformed readers of Scripture.
  • Teach the Bible as a Story - From beginning to end, the Bible tells one grand story. The plot-line of the Bible moves from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation. We must relate the many stories found within Scripture to the one, unified Story. In other words, we must not treat the Bible as a collection of unrelated stories; every story is part of the drama of redemption. (Recommended Resource: The Jesus Storybook Bible)
  • Ask the "So What?" Question - The goal of reading Scripture is not simply to make us more informed or knowledgeable. Facts are good, but they are not enough--even the demons believe certain facts about God (James 2:19). The things that we learn in the Bible regarding God, ourselves, and the world should lead us to action. For example, the proper response of the one who learns of his or her sinful condition and of Jesus' death and resurrection, is faith and repentance. Every time we read Scripture we should ask the "So what?" question -- "So, what should my response be to what God has revealed to me in His Word?"

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