It’s in the Book, and…

I see survey after survey of church-going folks who just don’t know their Bibles. I know more and more liturgical church-going folks who not only don’t know their Bibles, they don’t know their Tradition either.

I gravitate towards material that some consider obscure (ancient monasticism and the third century Christian catechumenate) because the ancients seemed to have a way of passing on the content and behaviors of the faith better than our ‘Purpose Driven’ modern faith does (not that there’s anything wrong with that–many churches have no purpose at all, other than to increase butts and bucks).

So what is the answer in our pomo (postmodern) universe? Where are the mystagogical teachers like St. Cyril of Jerusalem?

I ask these questions because I am truly hopeful that there are answers. Neophytes?

10 thoughts on “It’s in the Book, and…

  1. I think you might be right. The scripture is essential, because it is foundational, but what it means and has come to be to the church through tradition and history is practical and necessary in order to express ourselves in worship and in our lives together. I know the scripture, fairly well, but I don’t know why I’m an Episcopalian (Anglican, orthodoxian, Catholic, Methodist, Protestant). There seems to be a lot of official level confusion here. Good luck in your quest to bring clarity here.

  2. I have encountered a few good teachers of tradition who have passed on their enthusiasm to willing souls. But based on limited experience with my friends and acquaintances, it seems my generation wants little to do with religious “tradition” in the first place, so passing it on in any meaningful way is tough.

  3. it’s a good question, and not one easily answered. As you know, neo, i am all for the three year catechumen training process, but most people would argue that it is impractical for today’s world. As much as i hate to, i do have to concede their point. But perhaps the lack of knowledge of the scriptures in today’s church might be due to not very many people understanding how they really improve the life of the reader. Maybe understanding why the Bible was compiled (i.e. for more than just moral instruction) would be more intriguing to the average reader. Also, simply telling someone they need to read the scriptures without giving them guidance in understanding the text does little for improving the desire to read. An uneducated reader would certainly be able to take the text no other way than literally if they have not been instructed to do otherwise. I don’t know if any of this makes any sense, but for me personally, I have not spent adequate time in bible study for a few years, and what is compelling me to get back in it now is firstly that I am continually humbled by Christians who do spend time not only reading but studying the text, and secondly I find it incredibly intriguing to be able to read the NT in Greek. GRanted not everyone has the chance to learn the original languages of the Bible, but I think the point I am driving at is to open the eyes of the laity in reagards to all the text can offer, and not just standing in the pulpit on sunday waving the bible around saying “this is your instruction book for life, read it and heed its message.” Not that you do that Neo ;0). I hope that helped.

  4. Jamie,
    What did you see in Tradition?

    Why have you stopped reading to feed your soul? What is enriching about the Greek?

  5. Question: What is the Word of God?

    Answer: The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.

    Do you like that Father? It brings back memories.

  6. I think the post I was writing disappeared into cyberspace, so I’ll try again and hope I’m not posting twice. Father Neo asked, “What did you see in tradition?” First of all, I have to admit that I am woefully ignorant of Tradition and would not be capable of holding up my end of a conversation with someone who had spend time reading the Church Fathers or who had done extensive reading on sacramental theology, etc. That being said, I have a (partially) fundamentalist Christian background, which focused on a person “getting saved” and bordered on anti-intellectualism in the way in which the Bible was read and appropriated. During my college years, I fiercely rejected the anti-intellectualism, and in the process, adopted a sort of anti-emotionalism, too. I think what the Sacraments, which is what I tend to equate the word “Tradition”, provided me with a faithful context in which my both my head and heart could be fully involved. Once can read and contemplate and discuss what Real Presence in the Eucharist might mean, but to believe that I’m meeting Jesus every Sunday at the altar—that’s not something than can be done with just the head. The Sacraments also provide a way out of the rampant individualism that plagues the “personal Savior” folks. I LOVE that when we step into the liturgy, were not only drawn into the community of the people physically present in a particular building, but we find ourselves in the company of all the saints–past, present, and future–and the angels, of course. I like Tradition because it allows us to be caught up into the Eternal.

  7. neo,

    i am confused by your first question. I stopped reading because i lost faith in the relevancy of the bible for a while during my first few years at college. It was more a textbook than a personal one, but I am recently had a desire to pick it up again. I really couldn’t explain the reasons behind why I desire to read again, I just want to be enriched. And I love reading in the greek because there are so many nuances to the greek words that cannot be fully translated into english. It is also interesting to discuss with others what the theological implications are of translating a certain word according to its grammatical significance. I just like it, although i certainly do not consider it to be imperative to reading the bible for spiritual enrichment. It is just something that makes the text more interesting to me.
    I hope i answered your questions. If not ask me in person and i can explain more fully.

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