Monday, June 9, 2008

Book Review: Taking Back The Good Book

Taking Back the Good Book: How America Forgot the Bible and Why It Matters To You by Woodrow Kroll, 2007. (Crossway)

I loved, loved, loved this book. It had me at hello:

Do you remember your first Bible? I remember mine. It was red--the color; it was also read--the verb. I had a little trouble reading my first Bible because in those days I wasn't used to much more than "See Dick run. Run, Dick, run." But with time and practice, I got better at it. (11)

The message of the book is that whether people say they love the Bible, honor the Bible, respect the Bible, believe the Bible is important...the truth of the matter is that few people actually read it on a regular basis. People might think they ought to read the Bible; people might know that they should read the Bible. But one excuse after another keeps them away from actually doing it. So what has happened to the church, to the culture, to the country is that we've now reached a point where Bible illiteracy is rampant. Even within churches, there are many sitting there who are absolutely clueless when it comes to what the Bible actually says and what it means. It is a problem affecting people of every generation--from children to baby boomers. Somewhere along the way, it became "okay" even within the evangelical community to be biblically illiterate and spiritually naive.

What is Bible Illiteracy?
Bible illiteracy has more to do with inattention than inability. For our purposes here when I talk about Bible illiteracy in America, the definition relates to a lack of familiarity with the Bible, not to a lack of ability to read it. Bible illiteracy is not the unfortunate, unintentional inability to read and understand Scripture; it is the unfortunate, intentional neglect of Scripture. (58)

So how does Kroll define Bible literacy?
Reading [the Bible] is fundamental, but it isn't enough. You have to read the Bible and then interpret it and apply it to your life. Those are the initial steps in Bible literacy. They are also the first steps toward spiritual maturity. (58)

Biblical illiteracy is causing many problems within and without the church and evangelical community, but it isn't too late. Kroll outlines some important steps that everyone can take to reverse the situation. It all starts with you. It involves your time and your discipline. But it can be done. It should be done.

A huge disconnect exists between owning a Bible and reading it. Simply put, the number of people who claim to read the Bible isn't supported by their knowledge of the Bible (66).

Some people choose not to read the Bible because they're afraid it will contradict what they've already made up their mind to do. But the Bible isn't a dialogue between God and us. It's a revelation from him to us. The Bible should be our guide to life, not a sometimes-support for our pre-existing belief system. (71)

The Bible is read by people who choose to read it. Bible reading is neglected by people who choose to neglect it. It's just that simple. No excuses. Just honesty. (77)

When you win the battle for Bible literacy in your own life, you not only discover the joy of God, you are the joy of God. He delights in our getting to know him, and the most direct way to make that happen is by reading what he has revealed about himself in his Word (145).

If you don't take the Book in your life and read it consistently, you are saying to its Author, "I don't care enough about you or your Book to read it." That's what Bible literacy means to God. It means you love him, and you show it. It means you worship him, and you show it. It means you thirst for him, and you show it. Isn't it time we did some serious thinking about just how Bible-literate we are? Isn't it time for you to do some thinking? (151)

This book is for everyone. It doesn't matter how old you are (or aren't), this is a topic that concerns you--if you are in fact a Christian. It offers practical advice for everyone--including extra tips for parents, teachers, and pastors. But it has something to say for everyone. I can't recommend it highly enough!!!!

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