Beware Bible McNuggets

When Reading the Bible Can Be Spiritually Unhealthy

The spiritual diet of too many Christians consists of a lot of Bible McNuggets. And that’s not healthy. Let’s talk about it, next, on BreakPoint!

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John Stonestreet

I’ve mentioned before on BreakPoint the cruel game I sometimes play when I speak to Christian students. I’ll give a quiz on pop culture, with questions such as who sang this song, and who starred in this movie, and so on. As you might expect, the students get 100 percent on this quiz every time. But then, without breaking stride, I’ll throw in a Bible question like “Who was the lead character in II Samuel?”—and you can just hear the crickets chirping.

Look, when Christians know far more about entertainment trivia than the Bible, we’ve got a problem. And it’s ironic, given we have more access to the Bible than any other time in history.

According to the American Bible Society, the average household has 4.3 copies of the Bible. This doesn’t even count the ones on our smart phones and iPads, or the pew pockets in every church. We’ve even personalized the Bible for every possible life situation: we’ve got the Teen Bible, the Women’s Bible, the Dad’s Bible, the Leadership Bible...you name it. And yet Gallup has dubbed the United States “a nation of biblical illiterates.”

Paul Caminiti of Biblica, a ministry that promotes Bible engagement, offers three reasons for scriptural illiteracy: (1) We fragment the Bible into little bits that we then yank out of the Scripture and personalize. (Phillip Yancey refers to these bits as “moral McNuggets.”) (2) We don’t understand the history or context of Scripture passages, so we miss or manipulate the full meaning that it communicates. And (3) we read it alone; we’ve stopped reading the Bible in community. Well, Biblica has decided to confront these problems.

Over the years, we’ve added a lot to the Bible: a new order for the books, two columns, study notes and lots of divisions – chapters, verses, and paragraphs. And this impacts how we read it. The two columns make it look long and different than other books; the chapters and verses, which were intended just to help us navigate the text, tempt us to break up the text. So we’re less likely to read large sections and more likely to disconnect small parts.

Biblica now offers the Scripture in a one-column format, without chapters and verses. It’s called “The Books of the Bible,” and it restores the original order of the Old Testament while grouping the New Testament books together theologically in a way that shows the relationship between them. Starting with Luke and Acts gives the history of the New Testament, and then connecting the other Gospels to the Epistles that match their intended audience reveals connections we often miss.

And did you know you could read the whole New Testament in 8 weeks if you read it like other books? Me neither; but as Gabe Lyons, founder of Q, says, with this new format and the reading plan, “It reads just like a book.”

And because these books were written for communities of believers, Biblica has developed the Community Bible Experience where entire churches read together through the Scriptures as a church family. The reports they’re hearing from churches who have done this are incredible.

On the latest BreakPoint This Week podcast on our website, I interview Paul Caminiti about the “Books of the Bible” and the Community Bible Experience. I also spoke with Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby about their new Green Collection project. The Green Collection has becomeNewsletter_Gen_180x180_B one of the largest privately held collections of biblical artifacts in the world. Much of the collection is featured in a traveling exhibit called Passages, and will eventually be housed in a permanent Bible museum in Washington D.C. Visit BreakPoint.org and click on the This Week tab to listen.

You know, Chuck Colson frequently noted that we in the West had morally starved ourselves by disconnecting from the truths of Scripture. And biblically illiterate Christians are in no condition to help if all we’ve feasted on is a diet of Bible McNuggets.

Further Reading and Information

BP-Takeaction_62113Beware Bible McNuggets: When Reading the Bible Can Be Spiritually Unhealthy - Next Steps

Are you reading the Bible in context? How about in community? Both are vital to understanding its message, and as mentioned in today's commentary, Biblica is offering a powerful new initiative [link below] to inspire churches to read Scripture together.

Check out the Community Bible Experience, as well as our other exciting links, and discover how God's Word can impact your life, and the life of your church family.


BreakPoint This Week: The Bible Still Matters
John Stonestreet | BreakPoint.org | June 15, 2013

Passages, the Green Collection

Biblica website

DeMossNews.com | 2013

Gabe Lyons on Community Bible Experience
Youtube.com | April 19, 2012


Of Ponds and Pitfalls
The peril of "what this verse means to me." http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/of-ponds-and-pitfalls/
Truth to Metabolize
I love God's Word. I spend an hour almost every night in the study of it.
As I look at the church and the world around us I am concerned that we are not focusing on gleaning from scripture truth that changes lives.

For example David's encounter with Goliath is a wonderful story but we are missing the point if we don't focus on what caused David to have the courage and determination to face such grave danger.

Courage is largely a learned behavior and it takes training to learn how to master fear. David's trust in God gave him confidence that no matter the cost he would not allow the heathen to blaspheme his God. That is one of the many truths we must focus on from the story and use it as a means of building courage in the church.

The principles of sin management have been lost by this culture because we have focused on the 10 Commandments but God wants us to weigh and judge ourselves by a far more comprehensive standard. God desires us to not just to do right but He wants us to yearn for righteousness with all of our hearts. He wants us to find multiple applications for the truth He has revealed to us.

Many Bible stories illustrate how to combat fear but it takes a good teacher to dig out the life changing truths that cause a believer to engage in the application of Biblical principles.

Bible truth must be metabolized. We must hear it, believe it, and then begin to find ways to apply it. It is the application of truth that proves whether or not we believe it.

In addition we must be taught that when we drop the ball how to recover and start again.

Christian growth requires training, time, teachers, and mentors but it also requires that we approach the Bible as a vehicle to life changing truth.

Knowing the Bible stories is less important than knowing how God wants to interact in our lives and transform us into the image of His Son.

The world is at war with us and in order to engage it we must be grounded in the principles that foster agape, patience, and truths that are imbedded in our hearts and communicable to others.
Read, Read, Read!
We need to read the Bible more than we do. Not just the pretty parts, but all of it. I like the idea of reading in groups of people. That can help too.

I am reading through the Old Testament again and it is an amazing book.