It’s Tough to Get the Theme When You Don’t Know the Story

I was at a training session several years ago at a local church to talk with small group leaders about the spiritual disciplines. For one activity, I asked them to sketchthier favorite scene from the Biblical narrative.

As the group began to share their chosen moments, I was a little taken back. One very sincere (and particularly well-educated) woman displayed her picture of “Moses and his Ark” complete with pairs of animals. As she talked, I looked around at the other leaders… no one blinked.

Another leader shared his rendition of “Jesus parting the Red Sea” …no one even cracked a smile.

It was like watching the World Poker Tour on ESPN.

I prefer to think the crowd was very gracious that morning.

But there were an alarming handful of pictures composed with characters and plots foreign to any Bible I had ever read (one with sheep, wolves, fire and people that was particularly daunting).

My pastor friends say their parishioners generally don’t read the Bible. I tell them fewer and fewer people read anything anymore.

Thispresents a problem.

If we don’tknow the Story — how can we possibly get the Theme?

CNN’s Belief Blog posted an article exploring Biblical literacy and its impact on religious culture several days ago. One concerned scholar cites a much more disturbing result, “We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible’s values and morals really are,” Crawford says. Check out this great piece by John Blake titled “Actually, that’s not in the Bible”:

(CNN) — “NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

‘Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,’ a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season. ‘This, too, shall pass.’

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase ‘This, too, shall pass’ doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches – all types of people- quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.

These phantom passages include:

‘God helps those who help themselves.’

‘Spare the rod, spoil the child.’

And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.”

Read the rest of the article here:

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