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Do You Have To Know The Bible Well To Be A Christian?

The Bible is the vehicle that God has chosen to speak to His people throughout history.

However, there are reasons why Christians don’t always tap into this line of communication.

There are reasons why Christians don’t dive into the scriptures full throttle.

For one, the Bible is literary genius. On top of that, it’s ancient text written in a different language.

Double whammy!

It’s already tough to appreciate literary genius in your own language – so, these two things combined make the Bible an intimidating book.

There seems to be a high bar.

And yet, the Bible and God are closely connected.

This begs the question, “Do I need to be a Hebrew scholar or a Bible nerd in order to be a Christian?”

To me, this particular question is more about whether or not people have the ability to overcome the sophistication of the Bible in order to understand it or appreciate it.

I think there’s an even more important question underneath this…”Do I need to know the Bible well to be a Christian?”

In other words, “Do I even need to care about this book? Is this book a requirement of my faith?”

To answer all of these questions we must remember that the Bible did not fall out of heaven and then say, “You all have to become Hebrew scholars to understand who God is.”

The Bible emerged from a living, historical people group that was a worshiping community (the people of Israel and the early Christians).

So the history of the Bible is very much the history of God’s people…and people didn’t encounter the Bible in a vacuum, they encountered it as a part of a vibrant, thriving religious community – where they learned about God not only through these texts but through their parents, their friends, and their family.

What’s my point?

Reading the Bible has never been a requirement or prerequisite of being a Christian.

Some people have the impression that you have to know everything about the Bible to be a Christian.

If that’s the case, that’s a pretty tough requirement – considering the sophistication of the Bible.

Ok, if it’s not a requirement, why do people devote their lives to the scriptures? Why should I read it?

Jesus is at the center of the Christian existence… but the Bible is the indispensable way that we encounter Jesus, through the spirit speaking through the scriptures to its people.

The Bible has a very close relationship to Jesus.

Jesus is the center and the Bible is one of the primary ways we encounter that center.

Maturing and developing in our faith, going deeper, becoming a “people of the book” does require an appreciation of literature.

“In great literature, I become a thousand different men but still remain myself.” – C.S. Lewis

Put another way, “Through literature, I can live life through the eyes of others and I can see the world through the eyes of other people’s stories and cultures.”

This is one of the great values of literature. It’s someone’s experience, story, or poem that invites me into their way of seeing the world.

And that’s precisely what the Bible is doing. It’s trying to invite us into an alternate view of the world…of who we are…of human history…of what’s most important…

…and it does it through this well-crafted piece of literature.

It’s not a requirement to read the Bible – but by not reading it, you’re missing out on one of the primary ways we experience and get to know the true and living God.

Maturing and growing as a follower of Jesus means to learn about the Bible – or at least how to read it better.

Jesus is so connected to this book that it doesn’t make sense for me to be a follower of Jesus and not want to know more about Him.

There’s something exciting about saying, “Not only am I going to care about this, but if I dive in as deep as possible, this thing will create a lot of meaning for my life.”

You don’t have to do this to be a Christian. You don’t have to go all in when it comes to studying the Bible, but it’s so much more connected to finding meaning – because that’s all it’s interested in.

Things like human flourishing… and the meaning of human existence… and being connected to God.

In the same way that many people turn to other types of literature to enrich their life, the Bible is an incredible piece of literature that unfolds life’s deepest questions and adds profound meaning to your life.

This is why I choose to read the Bible – not because it’s a box I have to check in order to be a Christian.


(* Note – a good portion of the wording in this article comes from Dr. Tim Mackie and Jonathan Collins. Thanks guys!)

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