Do you take the Bible seriously? You might think you do. And you might be right. But ask yourself a few questions. How often do you read the Bible? Seriously think about it. Ok, now how often do you study the Bible? Those are not at all the same thing. How often do you cross-check translations? How well do you know biblical chronology? What about the biblical cultures? What did 1st century Jews believe about the afterlife? How about the biblical literary genres? What were the literary conventions of Ancient Biography? Do you know much about the original biblical languages?
Suffice to say I haven’t always taken the bible seriously. I didn’t even take it seriously in bible school. Don’t get me wrong, I read the bible in bible school, but I didn’t really take it seriously. I didn’t study the biblical context, I didn’t learn the literary genres, I didn’t learn how to do proper word studies.
What follows are 3 reasons Christians ought to take the Bible seriously.
1. Bible reading is not Bible study
This first point is not really a reason why Christians ought to take the bible seriously, but more of a proper way to go about it. Dr. Mike Heiser, a prominent Biblical Scholar, emphasizes in “Heiser’s 10 Laws for Bible Study” that reading the biblical text is not the same as actually studying it. One of the most important of Heiser’s Laws is that the Bible must be interpreted in context. Heiser remarks, “The Bible must be interpreted in context, and that context isn’t your own or that of your theological tradition; it is the context that produced it (ancient Near East / Mediterranean).” Getting to know the biblical context is crucial for correct biblical interpretation. Dr. Heiser also has a great podcast that comes highly recommended: The Naked Bible.
Many in our culture, even many Christians, believe that the bible is not really meant to be taken seriously. It was written by a bunch of uninformed peasants, so why should we, as enlightened 21st-century know-it-alls, bother with such nonsense? Christian Apologists have done a great job so far in terms of defending God’s existence, but we’ve got a long way to go when it comes to defending the Bible. Knowing, for instance, that non-chronological narration was common in the ancient world  can help squash lay concerns that the Gospels disagree on the order of events. The first step to combating culture is in taking the Bible seriously, for yourself. You must take the bible seriously. Seek to understand the biblical context, history, the literary genres; look into the sorts of questions biblical scholars are asking.
It hardly needs to be said that seriously engaging the biblical text is a good thing for Christians to do; it provides both intellectual and spiritual growth. If you’ve felt stagnant, if you haven’t had any motivation to read the bible, I would encourage you to look into the sorts of questions asked at the outset. Buy and read a good intro to biblical interpretation (like this one). Check out a book like Dr. Hesier’s “I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible“. It may be anecdotal, but doing this has personally brought me closer to God. Christian Apologetics is great, but really studying the Bible has been life changing. I’m discovering all sorts of interesting topics I never knew existed. I’ve also learned that most objections to the Bible, like the example above, are rooted in ignorance.
In summary, bible reading is not the same as bible study. Merely reading the bible does not amount to really diving in and studying God’s Word. Second, as Christians we ought to be concerned with shaping culture. Evangelism is all the easier in a culture that has a healthy respect for the Bible. And then thirdly, taking the Bible seriously is incredibly important for both intellectual and spiritual growth. It is past time that Christians take the Bible seriously. Too much is at stake.
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 For more on this, see this paper.