Reclaiming the Bible from the Fringe of Society
An Interesting Series of Events
On March 3, 2013 the mini-series The Bible first aired on A&E Network’s History channel. The first week viewing by 13 million people remains the largest cable television audience to date for 2013. The Telegraph out of the United Kingdom reported that the mini-series “has consistently been the top-rated cable television program on Sunday nights, and some reports estimate that 50 million people have watched at least part of one episode” When the series was completed by March 31, 2013, it had been seen by over 100 million viewers. These ratings rival, if not top, regular top rated US reality shows such as American Idol and Celebrity Apprentice.
These are numbers and the ratings do not discriminate between Christians and non-Christians. It does reveal, for one reason or another, a high level of interest in the bible, at least in a media format.
The bible is more than a set of fascinating stories, but a relevant contributor to the contemporary world that has been marginalized to the fringe of society.
This is interesting when compared to the research done by the Barna Research group showing that most people do not read the bible on a regular basis: “Half of all Americans do not read the Bible. The majority of all born-again Christians read the Bible once or twice a week, or not at all. The survey found that only 18% of all Christians said they read the Word every day, while another 18% read the Bible between three and six days a week, 37% read it once or twice a week, and 23% said they do not read the Bible at all. Among non-Christians, 70% do not read the Bible. Is this because many people do not own a Bible? No. Our research has shown that 93% of all American own at least one Bible, and most own more than one.”
From Interest to Engagement
Does a lack of bible engagement mean a lack of interest in the bible? Based on the recent success of The Bible series, we can begin to argue that there remains some level of interest in the bibles – whether the stories, the teachings, the miracles or authorship. Why is this?
It could be that the bible has been reduced to a mere set of fascinating stories with little, if any, relevance to the contemporary world aside from entertainment? In the past years, many people have declared the bible to be only stories, outdated, irrelevant and hardly reliable. But if they are not reading the bible, much less studying it, how can they claim that?
On the flip side, there is a movement of believers that are doing all they can to bring the bible back in from the fringe of society to be a center piece of discussion as it relates to contemporary global and social issues. If the bible is relevant at all, may be it is relevant in all areas.
Contemporary Practical Relevance
The bible, as I have read and studied it, is more than just fascinating stories to entertain us. It’s scope of content is broader than statements of good advice for moral living or our spiritual interest. To adequately explore and discuss all the bible is, and all it has contributed to the world, is beyond the scope of this article. Practically speaking, the bible offers principles and truths for literally every area of life. The bible gives directions for strong families, a stable and prospering economy, guidelines for lending and loans, rules for agriculture and health, and boundaries for civil governments. Practically speaking, it protects life when the principles God gives in the Bible are implemented. The bible, when read through a new lens begins to come into focus as a relevant and highly impactful document for life and society.
Where do you, the reader, sit? Do you find the bible a set of interesting stories or a relevant document for your life and your community. Will you be a side lined observer of what others claim the bible says or will you invest time and energy and in discovering what the bible reveals for life and society. The bible is a book that can be read over and over again and I would encourage you to begin by reading and studying it just once.