Bring your Bible to church

By: Flo Johnston - Contributing columnist

When I run into a “Bible Thumper,” I usually put up my defenses and try hard to bridle my tongue.

You know, the “evangelistic” type Christian who is consumed by a love affair with the Bible, usually the King James Version, and who is often looking for a fight.

These are Christians who have an inordinate concern about my soul and are quick to point out that what I really need is “to be born again,” especially when I tell them I’m a Presbyterian.

(At my age, the “new birth” thing is a tempting suggestion!)

Often, what I really need is a listening ear, a kind gesture, a smiling face, an assurance from that special book that even though I may have forgotten temporarily, God is still in control and never far from any of God’s people.

Actually, I have some first-hand experience with Bible thumping. In high school, I had a sojourn with an ultra conservative pastor who taught me Revelation 101 and all the scary details about the Rapture, the Tribulation and Hell Fire. However, my Scofield Reference Bible with significant passages underlined and notes in the margins, got lost in the shuffle somewhere along the way.

This, by the way, is a part of my life I value for it has added mightily to my theological education and has given me a more open heart to Christians of all shapes and sizes who are fellow travelers.

Over the years as a journalist, writing about religion, about people of faith flying all denominational flags and many flying none. I have noted that if you want to spot a church trend: Check out the United Methodists.

When I see something I think is “new” I go online and often find the Methodists are already doing it.

Reading the newsletter from a large Durham United Methodist Church, I noted that the pastor had written a letter to her congregation in early January suggesting that members make New Year’s resolutions to bring their Bibles to the 11 o’clock worship service every Sunday in the coming year.

The idea set me to wondering. Why do some Christians think it is vital to bring Bibles to Sunday worship and why would this pastor suggest it as an ongoing practice in this congregation?

My Presbyterian Church probably would never consider this because the Bible along with the hymnal are always in the pew rack.

I have noted, however, that some Baptists use personal Bibles in worship. One large congregation I know actually does a line by line study of the Scripture during the 11 a.m. service. So turning up without one’s Bible would be like going to the book club meeting without the book under discussion.

Keep in mind that I’m not suggesting this as a practice nor am I nixing anybody’s practice in worship, only wondering.

The Durham pastor gave these thoughts on why she thinks this practice could enhance worship. A quote from her letter:

“I have noticed that a few of you often make some notes during the sermon. I used to do the same thing and I would write in a little tiny notebook and also on the pages of my Bible.

“…If you don’t want to write in your Bible, that’s fine. Not everybody is a note-taker and writing in the Bible is a personal preference. Still, following along in our own Bible while the Scriptures are being read is sure to emphasize our listening and further illumine the Word. You’re invited to bring your Bible to church … every week. I hope you will.”

Flo Johnston

Contributing columnist

Reach Flo Johnston 910-361-4135

Reach Flo Johnston 910-361-4135