Illiteracy In The Good Book

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The Bible is one of the all time best sellers. Some people have a very deep knowledge and understanding of the words written upon its pages. Some have a “nodding acquaintance” (Gomes), much like the Christmas and Easter church attendance protocol many people practice. And then some have a tentative curious relationship with the Good Book. One wants to know more, but the language seems too confusing or the parables too difficult to understand. Reverend Peter Gomes addresses this lack of understanding and feelings of alienation in The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart. This paper will review the first chapter in which Rev. Gomes offers some insight on Bible illiteracy, how churches address the issue, and discusses how the Bible …show more content…
Gomes offers some answers as to why Bible illiteracy is common. Rev. Gomes states “it is the sense as well that the Bible is a technical book, requiring a level either of piety or of knowledge not available to the average reader”. Most people own a Bible and read it according to most polls (Gomes). However, biblical literacy is declining as evidenced by polls in which people responded to questions about the Bible with horrendous inaccuracy. Rev. Gomes states that people do want to learn more about the Bible but feel frustrated and intimidated when trying to read. In addition, because of its “holy” status and use in civil and sacred dealings it takes on an aura of something to be reverenced. Biblical scholarship has also been an obstacle in Bible literacy due to its abundance and complexity (Gomes). Denominations have taken steps to respond to this crisis in Biblical illiteracy. An Episcopal worshiper will hear Scriptures on a Sunday morning. The United Methodist church has developed aids to include books and film in a structured Bible study program. Rev. Gomes points out that what most church Bible study groups practice is not actually a study of the Bible and usually ends in discussion resembling a group therapy session. However, a bible study must involve “a certain amount of work, a certain exchange of informed intelligence, a certain amount of discipline” (Gomes). Many people express a determination to read the entire Bible …show more content…
Gomes was describing Bible illiteracy in the first chapter of The Good Book, I certainly considered myself as one who wants to know more about the Bible. As a child, Sunday school meant listening to stories and memorizing scripture verses. This foundation has served me well, however, I have not done much to increase my knowledge. As Rev. Gomes discussed the three principles of the Bible, I found the dynamic aspect to be most interesting. I do believe the Word of God can be transforming. And yet, bible study is not a discipline in my life. There are so many translations and teachings and conflicting opinions, consequently, these become obstacles. Reading about how dynamic the scriptures are and how the Holy Spirit can bring transformation through the verses is very comforting to me. I do believe in the gift of what I prefer to call a “spirit language”. I have experienced this numerous times in a corporate setting with other people and in my own private prayer time. Sometimes my focus is seeking God through prayer and meditation, however, this can also be accomplished if I allow the Word of God to be transformative. The Bible is inclusive. I can relate to David’s anguish in the Psalms or Job’s plight of suffering. I can find hope and comfort in the Words of Jesus. I believe approaching the Bible with an open mind and an open heart allows anyone to be able to relate and in that way understanding and growth occurs. As Rev. Gomes ends the chapter he reminds us that the

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