By Bill Craig
A common practice of many pastors is to invite people to “turn in their Bibles” to the passage they are about to read. I’ve noticed recently in some churches, including my own, this practice is changing. My pastor now invites people to “turn on” their Bibles and “navigate to” the Bible passage. As I watched dozens of people around me do that last Sunday I was momentarily distracted by a troubling thought. The educator in me wondered if there are some basic understandings about the Bible that are actually learned through the handling of a physical book? Would this new practice unintentionally lead to further decline in basic Bible understanding and skills?
I put that thought out of my mind as a matter to consider on some future day, but as I approach the subject of this article, it occurred to me again. The culture in which we live has already experienced a steep decline in biblical literacy. Are we unintentionally, through the use of technology, accelerating biblical illiteracy?
Take the skill of memorization. Why should I memorize anything when all of human knowledge is just a few keystrokes away on my smart phone? I can’t even remember my daughter’s phone number because I click on a picture of her face when I want to call her.
I should practice the discipline of Scripture memorization because the Bible itself tells me to memorize the Word of God. It teaches me to hide the Word in my heart, not store it on a phone in my pocket. After all, it’s the Word treasured in my heart that keeps me from sin.
So, I have to remind myself technology is not really the problem. Bible memory verse apps actually help people develop this skill every day. The real issue is whether or not we are intentionally engaging children, students, and even adults in developing Bible skills that will increase their ability to “rightly divide” the Word of Truth.
That’s one of the reasons I’m excited about Explore the Bible. In each age group, preschool through adults, the Bible study materials will encourage people to practice Bible skills. For preschoolers that might mean something as significant as learning they can hear a Bible verse at home. For adults it may be discovering how to dig deeper in understanding the background of key words or phrases in a Bible passage. Children will learn the difference between Old Testament and New Testament Books. Students will be challenged to read and study the Word for themselves.
Bible skills aren’t just about rote memorization or dry scholarship. They are the keys to vibrant Bible study and deep personal interaction with the Word of God. Bible skills are the tools that help you get the Bible in your life so the Word will dwell in you.
Dr. Bill Craig is Director of Publishing at Lifeway Christian Resources.