Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Biblical Literacy, Biblical Fluency, and Beautiful Words

I’m not convinced that my words will come together as eloquently as I’d wish, but I’m going to give it a try. In the past few months, I have attended a number of workshops and retreats and pieces of each have come together in a variety of ways.

One of the things we church leaders (as least in my denomination) often speak of is biblical illiteracy, a lack of biblical knowledge, of people not knowing the Bible. While the speaker I heard wouldn’t disagree, I don’t think, he made a distinction between literacy and fluency.

The comparison is learning a language. It is possible to be fluent before being literate. A first stage is recognizing the language when it is spoken around you. Then, you can pick out a few words. Later, you can understand it when it’s spoken. Then you can speak it. And eventually, you can learn to read and write it. For example, think of how you learned your first language. You were probably fluent before you were literate, though you continued learning.

Anyway, so what if the problem in many of our churches is not so much biblical literacy as biblical fluency? We don’t even recognize the language when it is spoken around us. And the only solution is hearing and absorbing the language of the Bible.

On another note, lately I’ve been listening to books on CD, surrounding myself with beautiful words. This started when I was driving many hours each week. But this habit has continued, even if it’s only a few moments in the car on my way to work or home.

And so, this Lenten season, I’m surrounding myself with beautiful words—the beautiful words of the Bible. While, in the grand scheme of things, my biblical fluency is pretty high, as is my biblical literacy, it really can’t hurt to increase both or surround myself with these beautiful words.

1 comment:

Songbird said...

Churches need more scripture, no matter where they are on the theological spectrum. It seems to be one of the keys to church vitality, and I guess that should come as no surprise!
Thanks for your thoughtful reflection.