I’ve recently begun writing a 2x/month column for Grandin Media. In an age where people find the Bible to be a book that’s out of date, I argued on the importance of opening up God’s word and reading it for ourselves:
Earlier this year, GQ magazine published an article listing 21 classic books you don’t have to read, all the while suggesting other, more modern ones you should read instead. You might be surprised at the book which found its way to No. 12 on their list: The Bible. GQ says:
“The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”
The above paragraph says a lot about the way that our culture views our religion and our Scriptures. You might almost say that GQ’s commentary is a mirror for us on the way others see us, and I’d say that the reflection I see feels a little bit painful. Christians are people who supposedly live by the Bible but who have never actually read it.
I won’t claim to be an expert on any denomination but my own, and here it would seem that the GQ editors’ indictment of us has some merit. Catholics can be guilty of not taking the time to open up our Bibles to discover what’s inside.
There are some outside the Church – whether they come from other Christian denominations, other religions, or non-believers – who recognize this and often challenge us accordingly. We might be asked if we know that the Bible says this or that. It might be a particular statement (usually from the Old Testament and taken out of context) which seems at best unreasonable or at the worst hateful and spiteful.
At times, it might be a claim which has no basis in Scripture whatsoever. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said that: “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” No matter the situation, we Catholics can find ourselves ill-prepared to face a discussion about our own beliefs and the words of our own book.