Earlier this week, I did a post on people not reading the Bible because it is boring. There are of course other reasons, I just looked at the most commonly cited to me, when I ask. I then received something quite insightful via BBM from someone who isn’t confident enough to post a comment, but I feel it should be included in the discussion on reading the Bible.
“People, non christians, are afraid to read it in case it changes them. People think they know who they are, what they think. Change is scary. They don’t want to be ‘brain washed’.”
She wasn’t really satisfied and I was sick, so I didn’t really respond. She later added:
“[A] person might think, what if reading the bible is just the beginning? Perhaps it will lead them to question their lives, their choices. (Better the devil u know?) Perhaps it will change the relationships they have with friends or family. That would be a frightening concept for most! Especially if they are enjoying life with their mates.”
“People might worry about being ridiculed.”
I’m not sure this flies, since it wouldn’t happen if it was done in private. But she continued:
“We try to keep up this facade that we are confident and capable. We have our principals our beliefs and it might be that challenging them is just to unsettling for some. However, when people are prepared to admit they are lost, and I don’t just mean people who are at their wits end, they can be quite open to a bit of bible reading.”
“That’s the reason my reading the bible is a dirty secret. What if it changes me? What if it makes me a less compatible wife? I think about this.”
I think these fears are quite legitimate, many people are happy to continue in their way of living, and would rather not have their cages rattled. As she points out, people at their wits end who see no way out may actually be compelled to read the Bible. I tried to think of instances where this happened. It happened with me, but once I got to Chronicles I stopped, I mean, really?! Do they really need to repeat all that stuff? Doug Batchelor (an SDA evangelist) did, and it lead to his conversion. What really made me think was a series called God’s Final Call by Mark Woodman, for him it was a series called Total Onslaught by Walter Veith, and for David Asssherick (another SDA evangelist) it was an Ellen Gould White book. This is just me thinking off hand, but I really don’t think the Bible, and the Bible alone is responsible for the great majority of conversions. It’s also easy for people to dismiss the Bible for things like talking snakes; talking donkeys; resurrection en masse; rivers stopping; seas opening; people in furnaces. In general, I think the fear for the non-believer may be there, but I don’t really think that it’s the real fear, or at least as much of the fear of reading it with some believer’s guidance.
There is a bigger fear, I think, for believers. To start with, in general, they are taught not to think, to simply accept what their religious leaders tell them. What if they read the Bible, and like all the atheists out there felt compelled to abandon their beliefs, or to change them. What would happen to their church community? Would they be abandoned by their friends (as in the quote above)? Would they suddenly loose their moral compass and become child eaters? Or, even worse, would it turn out that they’d have to agree with another unspeakable denomination, that endorses obeying rules and not judging other people?
I think the comments above do have some credence, people are often scared, will they become incompatible to their friends; spouses; parents; children; in laws, or whoever. The Bible is a powerful book, and can be used to a variety of ends. History is riddled with great deeds, and evil deeds all in the name of the Bible and the God it represents. It seems legitimate for people to believe it will change them in some way or another.
If you have these fears, ask yourself if fear is a good reason for not experiencing other things, then ask yourself if it is a good reason for not reading what is arguably the most influential book in human history. If you want to keep it a “dirty little secret” then take part in he upcoming challenge on this blog, subscribe and receive the emails. You can make up some name if you aren’t confident to use yours. I comment on peoples blogs, and post here as Smidoz, but only because there are just too many Peter Smiths. If you want to remain nameless and faceless, the internet lets you do that, so you can still participate without fear of ridicule. I will be updating my comment policy so as to offer some protection to commentors.