Vol.III No.X Pg.2
November 1966

"Knowing" The Bible

Robert F. Turner

I hope my comments on this subject do not reflect envy or jealousy on my part. I admire the man W40 will make the necessary effort to memorize the scriptures -- and, incidentally, if he is determined to quote scriptures, I want him to do it correctly. (Some so-called quotations are so far off they put a kink in my spine.) But I have a special peeve over those who think the ability to quote scriptures is equivalent with "knowing the Bible."

If a preacher rattles off a number of verses -- going so fast, and reading so poorly the meaning is lost -some think "he really knows his Bible." They miss the fact that this is often a prepared sequence, repeated over and over as the preacher goes from place to place; and may actually show lack of preparation of fresh sermons. To some a dignified reading of a few verses, book opened, is proof positive that this man is a beginner.

Even worse than the rapid, profuse, and poorly related "quoting" (called "coting" in some sections) is the use of unusual, little-known facts by which an audience may be impressed.

"Who was born with a red string about his wrist?" (Gen . 38:27 for all you dummies.) "What does it mean to raise an 'Ebenezer'?" (Look it up.) A careful and frequent reader of the Bible (especially the Old Testament) will notice many such things, and this is fine. But there is a vast difference in a head full of "tricks" and really knowing the teachings of God's word. Drilling a class on "How many words in Psm. 23:?" "What is the middle verse of the Bible?" etc., is, in my estimation, a lot of foolishness. I am not unmindful of the need for attention-getters, especially while teaching younger children who have short attention spans. There are Bible "games" that serve a useful purpose in early memory work, and in impressing the young mind. But it seems to me such things should be coordinated with the needs of later years, and made to serve truly great ends. Too, it is one thing to treat a child as a child -- and another thing to put supposed adult Bible students in the same category.

"Knowing the Bible" is a life's work; and none of us will master its depths in our brief span. We should respect its great truths, and apply our hearts to understand them. The Word itself says something -- and when clearly and distinctly read its message is often self-interpreting. When we abuse God's word, by selfish use or a foolish gilding with cheap dramatizing, we abuse the author God. if we really "know the Bible" our hearts will be humbled in reverence.