Not long before he left LICC to take up a post at A Rocha, Nigel Hopper (Lecturer in Contemporary Culture and Communications Manager at LICC) asked me some questions about the Bible’s impact on culture and the implications for Christians and churches today. A trimmed version of our ‘electronic’ interview will appear in September 2011’s edition of EG, LICC’s quarterly magazine, but I will also post the transcript of the whole conversation over a series of entries here.
Nigel: Finally, I started by asking you about the place of the Bible in contemporary British culture, let me finish by asking you for your view on the place of the Bible in the contemporary British church?
Antony: Survey after survey in recent years – carried out with people in churches, leaders and non-leaders, as well as non-church people – has confirmed what will probably not come as a huge surprise to many of us, that there is an increasing lack of biblical literacy in the church as well as in society more generally. The surveys reveal that the vast majority of people in churches feel positive about the Bible, and consider it to be revelation from God, but fewer and fewer, it seems – even leaders – are reading it for themselves. And when they manage to do so, they’re not always sure what to do with it. And then, on top of that, are the challenges from secularists we’ve already spoken about.
That’s why I’m delighted that LICC is part of ‘Biblefresh’ – a movement of churches, agencies, colleges and festivals seeking to encourage and inspire Christians and churches to a greater confidence in, and appetite for, the Word of God.
Biblefresh has been focusing on four areas this year – encouraging individuals and churches to take practical steps in reading the Bible, being trained in handling the Bible, supporting translation work, and experiencing the Bible in new and creative ways.
It would be great, I think, if we could all move forward a little bit this year. For some of us that might mean reading the Bible on our own more regularly than we have been. For others it might mean using some Bible reading notes when we read to take us further in our understanding, or going to a Bible study, or meeting someone once a week in a coffee shop to discuss a Bible passage. For church leaders and preachers it might mean being even more self-conscious about handling the Bible carefully or thinking through its significance for our people in their everyday contexts. For others it might be a commitment to give to the work of Bible translation so that others can read God’s word in their own language. Think how amazing it could be if we all took just one step forward!
We started with how the Bible has shaped British culture, but of course Christians formed by the Bible are themselves culture shapers. But we will best engage with culture and society today as people who are first shaped by the Bible, through hearing and then living according to the voice of God in the pages of Scripture.