Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Bible waving, but not Bible reading"

Continuing his discussion of the "Evangelical Liturgy," Michael Spencer comes to "The Public Reading of Scripture," noting the irony that oftentimes more scripture is read as part of worship in non-Evangelical churches than in those that affirm inerrancy:
.... In many evangelical churches, particularly those of a more contemporary flavor, public reading of the Bible is avoided. Scripture will be scattered across a few song lyrics and inserted as point prompts or proof texts in the sermon. There will be no scripture lessons, no reading of scripture outside of the use of scripture in some function of the service and no sense that extended scripture reading is a high and worthy use of time in worship.

Ironically, it will be the liturgical church and its scripture saturated service that will be called “liberal” by the Bible-waving, but not Bible reading evangelical church. Declarations of confidence in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God will dwell in puzzling juxtaposition with worship services where the most scripture encountered is in popcorned bits projected between film clips and other visuals.

All this against the backdrop of multiple commands and examples in both Testaments leading any reasonably bright fifth grader to the conclusion that the public reading of scripture is an essential component of worship. As Paul says in I Timothy 4:13 Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.

It’s here that the logic of the church growth/seeker sensitive approach to worship runs into a wall. Reading scripture publicly is boring, it takes work and it takes time. It requires explanation and if your mantra has been “we aren’t like your old boring church,” you could get sued.

Churches that undertake the reading of scripture lessons as a discipline give this a high and prominent place in worship. Readers should be trained. Attention should be paid to diction and the proper rubrics. Names, places and other obstacles should be anticipated. ....

Pray for a reformation of the public reading of scripture among evangelicals. What a shame that among those who claim so much love for the Bible, one hears so little of the Bible. .... [more]
The Evangelical Liturgy 8: The Public Reading of Scripture | internetmonk.com

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