Sunday, September 13, 2009

Literacy and the Gospel (part 6)

I could write much more on Literacy and the Gospel as I continue to think about the topic. But I think I will make this my last post. I have read many articles online, I think this one written in Baptist Press briefly sums up some of my thoughts.

Christianity is a book-religion. That is, all of its revelation about God's redemptive work in Christ is mediated to us in letters on a page. We don't have photographs, telephone lines through time, or a living oral tradition. We have the Scriptures. Apart from them, we have no saving knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because Christianity is a religion of the book, where it spreads so too does a concern for literacy. That is why when Christianity expands it borders, it is often accompanied by the building of schools and other institutions of learning. Where literacy dies, so does a knowledge of and a love for the Bible. Does it not make sense to interpret a decline in reading as a trend that works against the Gospel?

I believe the pervasive and invasive entertainment culture (TV, Internet, movies, etc.) smothers serious thinking and the reading of entire books. Americans by and large don't read serious books because they are entertaining themselves to death. There simply isn't time to read the Bible, much less books on theology or doctrine. Besides that, when you are conditioned to be in a constant state of being entertained, reading non-fiction becomes a chore and a bore.

Our hearts tend to fixate on vanity. It will be that way until the great day of our Lord's return. If we would be faithful to Christ, we would be conscientiously doing everything we can to work against these currents in the culture and within our own hearts. It may mean throwing our televisions away. It may mean spending less time on the Internet -- perhaps even reading less blogs. Whatever it takes, it's worth it to redeem the time and to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (Ephesians 5:16; 1 Timothy 4:7-8).
With all that has been said, I still believe we must go to those who cannot read and share the gospel with them. We need not wait until they are literate to share Christ with them. We can use teaching literacy as both a means of sharing Christ with them and helping them to grow in their relationship with Christ by reading the scriptures.

It is my prayer that we in America would turn off the tv's, the computers, the music and pick up our Bibles. I pray that as the Lord leads people would begin literacy programs, ESL classes, and come up with other ideas on how to increase literacy. I also pray people would go on mission to other countries to promote literacy and to translate Bibles for those who have none. Let us consider literacy as a gospel issue.

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