Many of my fellow Christians are up-in-arms over a recent article published by GQ telling people not to read the Bible. I understand the dismay of my brothers and sisters in Christ; much of what the contributor for the article’s section on the Bible, Jesse Ball, has to say about God’s Word is deplorable. While acknowledging the tragedy of Ball’s rebellion against his Creator, I disagree with my fellow Christians. I’m glad that GQ is telling people not to read the Bible.
In case you don’t want to click over to GQ (linked to above), here is the pertinent section:
The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.
I’ve already written an article defending the Bible against the uninformed and prejudiced opinions of another writer, so I won’t do that here. What I want to say in this current article is that Jesse Ball’s words are simply the reflection of what broader society, including some who are “upset” at Ball, believe about the Bible, God, and Christianity in general. I’m happy because maybe this will help rip the veneer off the belief that some Christians have that society respects Christianity.
If we believe the words of Jesus, and as Christians we are to believe the words of Jesus, we should be very skeptical at the suggestion that society respects our faith. In Mark 13:13, Jesus warned his disciples, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”
The belief that Christians are owed a “Christian society” or even owed respect is idolatrous. By “owed,” I mean in a manner that causes Christians to demand a position of prominence. Doing so reveals that our heart’s desire is comfort instead of Jesus. When we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, society will be offended. If society isn’t offended, that means that we probably ain’t preaching it correctly.
In 1 Corinthians 1:27, writing about how unbelievers respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul uses one of the same words that Jesse Ball used. “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise [emphasis added].”
If our society doesn’t believe that Christianity is foolish, what does that say about America’s version of Christianity?
Sadly, much of American evangelicalism has bought into the lie that this is a Christian country and, so, many of our churches reflect a faith in consumerism instead of in Jesus. Often, the mindset of churchgoers is “What will this church offer me? What kind of programs do they have that cater to me? What am I going to get out the deal?”
This type of cultural Christianity is a greater threat to our society than Jesse Ball’s childish digs at the Bible. Cultural Christianity spreads little white lies throughout our society about what it means to be a Christian. And this is allowed to happen because Jesse Ball is correct when he claims that many people who claim to be Christian have never actually read the Bible.
A survey conducted by Lifeway reveals that just over 80% of churchgoers do not read the Bible on a regular basis. I submit that if you don’t read the Bible on a regular basis, then you have very little reason to be upset with Jesse Ball and GQ. By your actions (or lack of actions), you’re demonstrating that you agree with Ball.
If an individual truly believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God then that individual will read it. However, not reading the Bible provides evidence that the individual agrees with Ball’s assessment that the Bible has been produced solely by men. Theologians call this “practical atheism.” Saying that you believe in God means very little if your actions prove otherwise. Saying that you believe the Bible is the Word of God means very little if your actions prove otherwise.
I’m glad that GQ published Ball’s snippet on the Bible. Lord willing, it will cause some professing Christians to evaluate their own relationship with God’s Word, and then begin to actually read it. In turn, maybe Christians will begin evaluating the relationship that many of our so-called churches have with society. Anything that helps separate the wheat from the tares is a positive in my book.