by Kendal Rasnake

Myths in Bible Education

In a previous blog post, I wrote about Bible Education as a Priority.  If you want to read that, you can click here.  In that article I threw out food for thought to challenge us into examining whether or not we treat Bible education as a higher priority over secular education.  It was my suggestion that, "Generally speaking, I believe we prioritize secular education more than Bible education."

Based on that premise, we can look now at some myths that may also play a part.  These myths or misconceptions may further fuel the idea of putting Bible education as a lower priority or even dismissing it.  Or at the least, it may cause us to put less effort into our Bible education than we should because we have bought into these myths.

Myth #1 - The church is responsible for teaching my child the Bible

How many parents have faithfully brought their children to Bible class week after week, yet neglected to teach them about the Bible at home?  Then, if the child grows up and does not stay faithful, the blame is pointed back at the church or its leaders for not "training up their child in the way he should go, so that when he is old he will not depart from it."  No one can guarantee that a child will stay faithful for any child has a mind of his own.  As a general proverb, however, if you do train up a child in the way he should go, generally they will not depart from it.  (Proverbs 22:6)

But whose responsibility is it to train the child?  That responsibility falls upon the parents.  There may be no place in the Bible that more clearly demonstrates this than Deuteronomy 6: 6-7.  "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."  

Think on also what children are being taught by their friends, media and the schools and how much of that is not right nor approved of Biblically.  Will one or two hours of Bible instruction per week overcome that which is being bombarded on your children day and night?  The Bible classes your children attend should be a supplement, not a substitute, to the Bible education they receive at home.

While we are on the topic, do adults treat the church as bearing responsibility for their own education as well?  If we feel like we don't understand enough about the Bible or we are not growing in the faith like we should, do we point our finger at the church or its leaders and blame them?  

One thing I may have tried to teach my students in school is that you are responsible for your own education.  Yes, you come to classes and listen to the teacher, but if you are not learning what you need, then it is up to you to do something about it.  Tell the teacher what you think is missing from the class.  Ask them if they would mind to spend some time on that.  Spend time yourself studying it.  Do your own reading and research.  Ask a teacher to help you learn what you need as an independent study or internship.  Don't just show up to classes and then blame the school that you did not learn exactly what you wanted to learn.  Why would that also not apply to Bible education?  Don't just show up to Bible classes either and then blame the church when you did not learn exactly what you needed.

Parent and Child Studying

Myth #2 - The Bible is hard to understand

Yes, I realize there are certain passages that are harder to understand than others.  There might even be some passages that are hard to understand.  But I'm speaking about the Bible in general.  We wonder how many people have not spent time studying, really studying, their Bible because they think it is hard to understand.  Or they may try to dismiss their responsibility to Bible education by saying, "Well I would like to know more and grow but this Bible is hard to understand."

Let's think first about what that idea says about God.  God gave us the Bible so that we might learn and understand.  In fact, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."  If we say the Bible is too hard to understand and we can't gain from it, then aren't we disagreeing with God that the Bible is profitable?  Aren't we disagreeing with God that the Bible is good for instruction?  Aren't we disagreeing with God that the Bible throughly furnishes us unto all good works.  There's something wrong with an all-knowing God who can't write a book that humans can understand.

In an effort to make things better, some will choose "easier-to-read" versions of the Bible.  And while these versions may bring the reading-level of the Bible down, they unfortunately often sacrifice accuracy while doing it.  Therefore, in an attempt to "learn more" we sacrifice accuracy for readability.  

I wonder if we would do the same if we were researching cancer treatments for a loved one.  If the doctor said, "Here are two books on cancer treatments for your spouse, one is harder to understand and takes extra study but it is very accurate and is more likely to save your spouse, the other one is less accurate and therefore less likely to save your spouse, but at least it's easier to read."  

The truth is that many websites list the reading level of the King James Version of the Bible at only the 12th grade reading level.  That's a high school reading level in the United States.  If you will dismiss studying the Bible because it is too hard to understand, then perhaps you should dismiss reading Shakespeare, Mark Twain, or Robert Louis Stevenson as well, since those books might be considered college level reading and therefore requires an even higher reading level than the Bible.

Along those lines, I've heard multiple people talk about the King James Version being harder to read.  Their reasoning was always something like, "Because it has a lot of 'thee' and 'thou' in it."  Then those same people might join me in the congregational singing of "How Great Thou Art," "Nearer My God to Thee," or perhaps "Have Thine Own Way, Lord."  But I've yet to hear someone complain about those words in the songs we sing.  Interesting.

What do you think are myths or misconceptions people have about Bible education?