Friday, January 14, 2011

Denzel Washington, Martin Luther, and Our Strange Neglect of the Bible

What are the most precious things we desire? Usually things that we don't have much of. Gold, jewels, iphones, or maybe good grades are some things that we consider precious. Is God's Word precious to us?

Here are a few quotes taken from The Gospel Coalition's Blog. This one by Ray Pennoyer:

What if you and I discovered that God himself—yes, the God who made the universe—was scheduled to speak at a certain college lecture hall or sports arena? I contend that we would spare no expense, time, or energy to get to that event and hear exactly what he had to say. We would be desperate to hear that word from God. And yet, that is what we claim about the Bible. Orthodox Christians around the world affirm and believe that the Bible is the very word of God. Yet do you and I seek to hear it just as desperately? If we are being honest, the answer for most of us would probably be “no.”

Why this strange neglect of the Bible? One reason, I submit, is the superabundance of printed (and now digital) Bibles available here in the West. This abundance has lulled us to sleep. The film The Book of Eli (Warner Bros. Pictures, 2010) sheds important light on this issue, as good art often can. It portrays a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future in which the human race suddenly finds itself without the things it formerly took for granted. The character of Eli, played by Denzel Washington, puts it this way in a conversation with Solara, played by Mila Kunis:

Solara: “What was it like in the world before?”

Eli: “People had more than they needed. We had no idea of what was precious, what wasn’t.”

With access to so many Bibles today, our sense of its importance—and especially of the urgency of our truly knowing its content—has dwindled. Turning back to the film (and here I will give away a few key plot elements), Eli carries under his protection in this dystopian world the last surviving copy of the Bible. Yet when that copy is forceably lost to him, Eli is still able to pass it on to posterity. How is that possible? Because he has taken those precious words from the printed page and made them part of his heart and mind.

If you would like to read the whole article, click on this link.