One of the things that I do to “pass the time” in my retired life is I belong to a book club.
Every month a member of the club picks a book to discuss and many in the club read it and we meet to discuss the book at a designated time and place.
This month the book is The Year of Living Biblically, a humorous look at a Jewish man [A.J. Jacobs] who wants to be as literal as possible in following the Bible and his book is a record of all the trials and tribulations he faced during his year of living Biblically.
Why did he do this? He said he wanted to know if The Word could be followed to the letter and secondly, he wondered if following The Word would bring him closer to God.
He was not very close to God in the beginning of the book.
He had many, many doubts.
In the book I have been blogging on, Pastor John Bevere speaks of “communicated knowledge” of God [in his book Good or God?]. He also speaks of “revealed knowledge.” There is nothing wrong with communicated knowledge but this form of knowledge comes from hearing or reading someone else’s statements about what they’ve heard about God. Communicated knowledge may be accurate or it may be inaccurate.
Maybe Jacobs was seeking revealed knowledge; he wanted to experience God firsthand.
In his book, he documents his many struggles with communicated knowledge. He writes about many encounters with people who are all over the Christian belief spectrum. He admits that he is very confused by people who think the Bible is the literal word of God even though that is what he is trying to do for one year. For example, he has a very enlightening discussion of Genesis and the Creation account. He traveled to Petersburg Kentucky to visit the Creation Museum as part of the research he did to write his book. Before going, he had friends who said things like “those people give Christianity a bad name” and other more hurtful expressions that I will not repeat in this post.
At the Creation Museum he was in the presence of people who are trying to take the Genesis account literally. He was trying to live the Bible literally; they are trying to interpret Genesis literally. They have invested a lot of money to build a museum based on creationism [the idea that God created the world just as He said in the Bible’s first book].
In my opinion there is nothing wrong with that. Jacobs began to wonder about creationists himself. When he had conversations with the people running the place [a group called Answers in Genesis] he was surprised by how intelligent they are.
However, it seems that literalists are in the minority today. A recent Gallup poll on religious values reports that seventy-one percent of Americans today feel the Bible is a Holy Document but only twenty-four percent think the Bible is the literal word of God. The rest of the Bible believers think the Bible is merely a collection of fables, legends, history or moral precepts.
It is pretty common knowledge that a copy of the Bible is in almost every household but it is seldom read. It is encouraging that Americans still think the Bible is the inspired Word of God but even if they believe it literally or maybe not so much, the fact is, Americans are not reading it.
Lifeway research reports that only eleven percent have read all of the Bible through with nine percent reading it more than once. Eighty percent have not finished the Bible through one time, with a dismal twenty-three percent admitting that they have not read one word or at best, just a few sentences.
It is no wonder that Pastor Bevere says there are many people who try to flaunt their Bible knowledge but they often misquote God’s word, from “money is the root of all evil” [see 1 Timothy 6:10] to “cleanliness is next to godliness”, “this too shall pass”, and “hate the sin and love the sinner.” None of these ideas are even in the Bible.
Bevere says that “individuals who make erroneous comments like this possess communicated knowledge rather than revealed knowledge.” He goes further by saying “In my experience this communicated knowledge is sometimes more dangerous than the absence of knowledge.”
How can this problem be corrected?
Let’s take that Book that is in almost every house and do something with it. Eighty-eight percent of American households report the ownership of a Bible and the average household has four Bibles.
A.J. Jacobs may have had a “close encounter” with God before his year of living Biblically was over. I’ll find out when I finish reading the book. Pastor Bevere almost guarantees it. In fact, he says the most common way all of us can get a revealed word from God is through our reading of Holy Scripture.
Do you want to have revealed knowledge yourself?
Just pick up that Bible and read.