Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Fast food Christianity

We are told, and it is obvious if we are paying attention, that there is a great decline in Bible knowledge among evangelical Christians who claim their faith is built upon the Word of God. What is the cause?

Jack Miner told of an elderly Scot who said, “In my day children were raised on the Bible and oatmeal porridge, today they are being raised on the Eaton’s catalogue and corn flakes.” Then pounding the podium, he said “I tell you folks, it can’t be done!”

Leaving aside the fact that I was allergic to oatmeal (I broke out in hives) and that the Eaton’s catalogue is long gone, this anecdote does reveal that there once was a time when it was believed that children were not too tender or dull to be exposed to the Bible just as it is.

My observation, as an old-timer, is that the decline in Bible knowledge is a direct result of the tools we are using to enhance our Bible knowledge. I am thinking primarily of children’s Bible story book, study Bibles, and Bible reading plans that lead one hither and yon in search of interesting elements of Scripture, but never allow one to get the whole picture.

We have advanced so far in this that readers are likely to dismiss such ideas as the incoherent rumblings of an old curmudgeon. Perhaps I am somewhat of a curmudgeon, but consider the evidence before you reject what I am saying.

What could be more innocent than a Bible story book? Look at the stories closely and you will see that each one is told to teach a moral lesson. Sometimes this requires some editorial tweaking by the writer. And sometimes the moral is altogether different from what you will find if you read the full account in context in the Bible.

I will examine some of the more egregious examples of this in future posts. But the overall effect of Bible story books is to create a kind of pseudo-Christianity that is described as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This is the thought that God has given us the Bible to teach us how to live moral and upright lives and to teach us to feel good about ourselves. That may not sound so bad, but years ago people believed the Bible existed to help us know God. That is what I still believe.

Study Bibles are like the fast food restaurants who used to advertise “Don’t cook tonight, Call Chicken Delight!” or “Colonel Sanders makes it finger-lickin’ good, with his secret blend of herbs and spices.” If you don’t think reference Bibles have their secret blend of herbs and spices, I don’t think you’re paying attention.

That’s enough for an introduction. Stand by for more rumblings in future posts.

6 responses to “Fast food Christianity

  1. berniecejolene April 25, 2019 at 08:49

    I appreciate your posts: the inspiration, the truth, and that you are writing! It is not unusual for someone in my writing group to share the link from one of your posts so that the rest of us will be sure and read it. We are using a quote you wrote to help to keep us focused on words that profit:

    “The great truth that we all need to learn is that it is the things that we don’t want to write about, the things that we are afraid to expose, that will be the greatest help to the reader. After all, we are not writing to tell the world what great people we are, we want to tell people about the great God we serve.” -Bob Goodnough

    Thank you! Berniece Penner Elmhurst, NY

  2. John A Kramer April 26, 2019 at 09:50

    Thank you and Amen!!
    I like where you’re going with this. Getting to know God is still key to a beautiful and a bountiful, fulfilling life!

  3. vonhonnauldt April 26, 2019 at 19:33

    So true. “We believe the Bible from cover to cover!” even though we’ve never read it from cover to cover.

  4. Bob Goodnough April 26, 2019 at 19:36

    That’s a good way of putting it.

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