The Bible commands the education of children in Deuteronomy 5. It has inspired literacy movements and educational missions all around the world because people who loved this book believed that what was in it would make all the difference in people’s lives – and if people could just read it for themselves, their lives would be better. And over and over again throughout history a person has read the Bible and their lives have gotten better. Changed lives are powerful – so powerful that institutions like the American Bible Society, and Gideons international have gone all out to put Bibles in people’s hands. An educated person should be able to recognize that the Bible seems to have a power. People from all walks of life in all sorts of circumstances read it and find wisdom, guidance, comfort, hope, and courage.
But can an educated person accept the stories as reliable? The answer depends on the educated person, but I would hope so, because as a result of the educational reform and the spread of knowledge, disciplines like archaeology and philology (the study of languages) and literary criticism developed – and these have largely corroborated and confirmed the places and events of the Bible and given modern readers confidence the contents of the Bible are consistent with what was originally written. Due to critical scholarship, we can be confident that the Bible’s contents to the word and letter are incredibly close to the words that were penned by the Bible’s original writers. Do to the science and scholarship behind translation work, we can be confident that the Bibles we read today in English give a reliable English language rendering of the original languages.
But can an educated person accept things in the Bible like miracles? Again, the answer depends on the educated person, but I would hope so, because otherwise, there are a lot of unplanned, unexpected, and unpredictable things that we all have to deal with. One book in my office by Harold Koenig is called the Healing Power of Faith. It documents how a skeptical doctor saw miraculous changes in his patients as a result of faith and studies that followed. Restored marriages and relationships, healed hearts, healed bodies, healed minds, acceptance of hardship, and restored meaning to life result – very often from someone picking up a Bible and reading.
This is not to suggest that the Bible is a magic ticket to a better life – only that it is an incredible guide to understanding. When we read it, we begin to understand who God is and what God requires of us. We begin to understand the human condition, what happened in the world, and God’s actions to redeem creation.
Lastly, I’ve never known anyone who said, “My life used to be a mess, but then I quit reading the Bible and everything got better.” But I’ve heard say “and then I picked up the Bible and started reading – and things began to change.” I’ve heard that more times than I can recall. This is my friend Steve Hubble. He grew up in a home where faith was not practiced. When he was in the army, he was given a Gideon’s New Testament. He’d go to chapel during boot camp to get an hour free – but for some reason, they weren’t having chapel services so he passed the time by reading the Bible. Steve’s reading of the Bible led to a spark of faith and a different kind of life. Today, he’s a Methodist pastor.
Bible reading – there’s nothing quite like it. Pick up one today – or download one for free from YouVersion.com