I have had the great good fortune to visit recently with some amazing preachers about the challenges posed by general biblical illiteracy, in the course of writing an article on the topic for Christian Century magazine. For all sorts of reasons, it's tough for people these days to learn even basic information about the Bible, despite its enormous influence on history and culture. Preachers face the challenge of trying to balance the different degrees of biblical literacy that congregants gathered on any given week may or may not have with the need to communicate a meaningful message necessarily based in biblical texts. I asked some for their thoughts on the problem in general and on what, specifically, preachers might do to address it. Among their thought-provoking comments and observations are some that deserve more attention than I could give in the article... or with only my voice. I'd love to hear from you -- what you think -- so I'm posting a few of the more controversial, or at least discussion-demanding (!), here. Each has its own blog, numbered in alphabetical order by the preacher's last name.
David Wolpe, Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and author of Why Faith Matters asserts that "the job of a preacher is to make the Bible strange, strange enough to awaken a sense of 'Wow! What is this about?'" He notes that we sometimes talk about the "fear of God" when the Hebrew word translated "fear" is really more like "awe." The Bible tells that this "fear/awe of God is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). Should/does biblical literacy originate in this awe-some state of being?