A few days ago, here, I probed the idea of a city’s being “Bible-minded.” Just as much, I was questioning whether a survey can aptly represent anything that incorporates levels of depth like Bible knowledge/insight.
Certainly it is good to have basic scriptural knowledge, but Bloom’s well-known taxonomy propels us further: factual knowledge is a base level of learning, and after that can arise comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (in that order, says Bloom).
It’s all too easy for us to become mired at the “basic knowledge” level, and spiritual complacency can be the result. In the hands of some, the scriptures can be inappropriately related to various off-base ideas:
- anti-intellectualism, exclusivism, war, and other species and sub-species of intolerance
- contemporary antisemitism and other breeds of prejudiced/racist hatred
- pentecostalism and other kinds of excess or lacks of discernment
- fundamentalism and other brands of baseless standards and misplaced pride
The following quotations — quotations that manifest Bloom levels far above “knowledge,” I might note — are from People of the Book: The Authority of the Bible in Christianity. The author is John Barton of Oxford University, England, and he writes from a non-fundamentalist vantage point that seeks to understand scripture’s place aptly. I affirm all the sayings below (but not necessarily everything in the book), and I’m particularly amused and invigorated by the last quote.
B. Casey, 4/9/15
On the “new” covenant:
The Christian gospel is not that a new God, never before known, has just been revealed in Jesus. It is that the God who already is known has, nevertheless, just done something new and unprecedented — something which means nothing less than the remaking of the world. (p. 9)
Christians are people who have a book, in order to be able to proclaim their freedom from it; and the character of that freedom is deeply shaped by the book from which they have been freed, and He is the God who gave the book who also gives the freedom. (p. 9)
. . . it is only in a loose sense that “the Bible” is Paul’s source of authority at all. What matters to him is God’s action in Christ, as related to God’s previous actions or previous involvement with his people . . . (p. 25)
The value of the Lord’s own sayings for understanding and recognizing his divine authority does not depend on the fact that they appear in the pages of Christian holy books, but derives from the fact that Jesus actually said them. (p. 39) [emph. mine -bc]
For I believe that Christians exist principally in relation not to a text but to a person. (p. 58)
On evidence and atttestation:
. . . The Bible is not only evidence for events; it is also, and more obviously, evidence for the faith of Israel and of the early church. (p. 43)
Anti-fundamentalism, though a necessary cause, is in any case a thankless one; for many who are not at all sympathetic to the Christian faith would prefer Christians to the fundamentalists, because that would make it so much easier to reject their religion as absurd. (p. 2)
– John Barton (Lecturer in OT and Fellow and Chaplain of St. Cross College, Oxford): People of the Book. Westminster/John Knox Press, 1988.