I love the Bible because my mother taught me to love the Bible. When I was growing up, she had a book of Bible stories her mother had given her when my sister (the oldest) was born. Mama had a gift for reading a story with intonation and expression. We could hear the hammers building Noah’s Ark, see the waves frothing right before Jesus calmed the storm, and feel the presence of God when Mama read “I will never leave you or forsake you…” In an old farm house that creaked and shifted in the wind, it was comforting to hear the Word brought to life in Mama’s words.
I love the Bible because the church I grew up in gave me a Bible in a translation I could understand. All that was read in our rural church was the King James Version; beautiful language, not understandable to a seven year old. During VBS the church gave us all a copy of the “Good News for Modern Man” translation. It was simple and easy to understand. I read the New Testament through in that translation four or five times by the time I was eleven.
I love the Bible because I had great teachers who loved the Bible. When I went to college, I was blessed to have gentle teachers who pried away my prejudices and opened my eyes to the world of the Bible. They taught me to ask respectful questions on my own.
I love the Bible because someone introduced me to The Cotton Patch Version of the New Testament by Clarence Jordan. Armed with a Ph.D. in New Testament, Clarence Jordan re-set the New Testament into the Southern United States. Jesus was born in Gainesville, Georgia; grew up in Valdosta; died and rose again in Atlanta. Paul wrote letters to Washington, D.C. (Romans), Birmingham (Ephesians), and Selma (Thessalonians). For the first time I got it – the Bible was supposed to apply to my world! It was about real life.
I love the Bible because of Marvin Tate. Dr. Tate was my major professor during my Ph.D. studies. He shrewdly judged that I did not have a scholarly temperament, but was to be a pastor and preacher. He steered me to write a dissertation on 92 verses of the Bible (The Function of Chapters 29-31 in the Book of Job). Live for eighteen months with 92 verses and you realize you are in the presence of words of un-natural origin. I learned to love the original languages of the Bible, appreciate the artistry of the writers, but most of all see the signs of the Holy Spirit at work.
I love the Bible because the truth of God still leaps off its pages and pierces my heart. One moment you are just reading words you have read dozens of times before and the next moment you read “But food does not bring us near to God…(1 Corinthians 8:8).” Convicting.
Let me ask this: If you loved the Bible, would it make any difference in you? In your family?