LESS CHRISTIANS READING THEIR BIBLE IN NEW ZEALAND
The Church is facing a crisis through the devaluation of its primary text, the new head of the Bible Society in New Zealand says. Mark Brown says most Christians would be comfortable stating that they consider the Bible to be an important text. Yet recent research from the Bible Society suggests that the number of people regularly reading it is low.
Of the 2048 church-attending people who were questioned, only 21 per cent read their Bible daily, 22 per cent said they read it at least weekly, while the remainder said they either read it occasionally or hardly ever. The church with the highest incidence of Bible reading was the Brethren. A similar study in the United States revealed that only 12 per cent of respondents reported reading the Bible once a day or more often.
"My discussions with others in Bible ministry in Europe and Australia have also revealed the same alarming trend," Mr Brown says. A lecturer in religious studies at Victoria University, Chris Marshall, points out that what is being lost is an awareness of the Bible's central role in shaping Christian identity and forming Christian character. The less we listen to scripture, the more we will accept the world as we know it as our default setting, and the less we will have to offer the world that is fresh and powerful and redemptive. "When we read the Bible we are not just undertaking an exercise in learning facts, but engaging in the process of being transformed," Mr Brown says.
"If I ask a group of Christian leaders, 'Do you think the Bible is important?', no-one - not even the liberal Christians - says it's not important. They all recognise that it's a primary text, whatever language they use. "But then I ask, 'Are you reading it, are you engaging it? Is it a focus of your church?' And then I get the shifting of the seats, and the eyes avoiding contact."Mr Brown says we are seeing a fragmenting of the scriptures. "It's the practice of selectively choosing scripture to suit. Once you start getting into that dangerous territory, it's all about what I feel comfortable with. Churches treat the Bible rather poorly as only one of the many tools available to achieve their aims. And so it can be easily relegated in favour of more 'acceptable' tools such as inspirational worship or entertainment-driven preaching.
Source: Assist News Service