It was my freshman year of high school, as I vividly recall being a handed a book by my English teacher, that I experienced the most challenging episode of my then short educational journey. It was a book that in order to pass her class, I must completely read, comprehend and report back to her in a concise manner, displaying my command of the story. The book was Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. Needless to say, I had never heard of Dickens, or any of his great novels. Therefore as I began reading, I remember being frustrated because of his twisted plots, his multiple characters, which sometimes had multiple names, and the intrigue of his masterful ability to keep his readers guessing. In spite of how flustered I became, I knew in order to get the grade I wanted, I had to read that book. From the overall Dickens experience, I soon learned that in order to understand the book, there must first be an understanding and knowledge of the author. In ascertaining the mind, mode and method of the author, what is said in writing becomes illuminated.
Everyone, just as I grappled with “Great Expectations”, struggles with God’s book called the Holy Bible. It is the world’s bestselling and most printed book, yet because it is so hard to read, it usually finds itself on the coffee table for decoration only, or on the back of the church pew, picked up only on Sundays as we struggle to find Psalms when the preacher leads us to that passage. Organizations such as the Gideon’s, The American Bible Society, Bibles for the World, have distributed billions of Bibles in hundreds of countries. Of the world’s over six thousand distinct languages, the Bible has been translated into over three thousand, making it the most translated book in the world; but yet, ironically it is largely unread.
At the onset, the Bible presupposes the existence and authority of God without an introduction of who He is. This initially presents us with difficulties because we cannot understand the mind, mode and method of God. God then takes sixteen hundred years to complete it, in three different languages, (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek), and then speaks through forty different authors, most of whom did not know each other. Uniquely in this, however, is one theme, that being the redemption of fallen mankind.
At times, the Bible can be so simple that a child can understand it, and at the same time have wise people scratching their heads. Because it is so simple, but yet simultaneously complex, it poses internal concerns of interpretation, while neglecting it’s true axiom, dividing people of faith, and allowing those of non belief to attempt to expose contradictions. Because of its metaphors and allegories, the Bible must be approached as a book of faith. Without faith that it is the true recognized authoritative record of God’s Divine Will, and it is infallible, the Bible is just a book of hard fairytales and stories about mythical heroes and heroines.
As you struggle to read this book, one bit of advice (without a Sunday morning sermon), get to know the Author.
Pastor Williams welcomes questions and comments via e-mail at Macedonia.firstname.lastname@example.org.