What the Bible Feels Like to Normal People

June 2, 2011

This is from my Monty Python calendar:

Monty Python calendar

The headmaster (John Cleese) gives the day’s Bible reading:

And spotteth they the camels before the third hour. And so the Midianites went forth to Ram Gilead in Kadesh Bilgemath by Shor Ethra Regalion, to the house of Gash-Bil-Betheul-Bazda, he who brought the butter dish to Balshazar and the tent peg to the house of Rashomon, and there slew they the goats, yea, and placed they the bits in little pots. Here endeth the lesson.

I’m always on the lookout for things to remind me of how normal people perceive church and Christianity. This is how our friends see the Bible… how they see church and Christianity…

Let’s stop being verse- and wordsmiths and start being storytellers.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

9 responses to What the Bible Feels Like to Normal People

  1. Noelle Paduan June 2, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    I am fascinated that you used the term “normal people” for non-Christians.
    From my perspective, you guys are the “normal people” and I am the heathen freak. (Whoo Whoo! Holler!)
    And yes, the bible pretty much reads just like that. 😉

    • At one time, Noelle, it may have been true that you were the heathen freak. But there’s been a massive shift in culture, and the Christian church no longer finds itself at the center. Personally, I think this is a good thing: We do better when we’re on fringe. That whole power thing tends to go to our heads.
      So congratulations. You’re a normal heathen freak. 🙂

  2. I love this post. You know when you consider all of the speeches of Jesus, consider how much of His own words were stories that were relevant and challenging to the audience–all of them applicable. The only time that I can really off the top of my head think of when Jesus directly quoted Old Testament scripture was: A., When he first read in the synagogue, B. to the Pharisees, C. to the Devil. Intriguing?

    • Matt, while the crowds were drawn to Jesus teaching with “new authority,” I find it a stretch to imply that he dismisses the Hebrew Scriptures. But maybe that’s not what you’re saying. I do think Jesus is the master example of being a storyteller instead of a wordsmith.

  3. In other words, the “normal people” (non-Christians) view Christians and the Bible as ridiculous. I’m sorry, but I disagree with your assessment that Christians should try to make themselves/the Bible more people-friendly by paraphrasing what it actually says. It seems like a slippery slope towards deception, even if intentions are good. I’m not one of those who believes the King James version is the “only” true Bible, btw.
    “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Tim. 4:2)
    While Christians should try to watch what they say and how they say it (as well as actions), the world will always be at odds with Christianity. Truth is offensive unless it is what you are honestly after. Most people are only interested in living the way they want.

    • LL, have you ever tried quoting the Bible to normal people? See what Noelle says above. It’s gobbledygook, and will remain gobbledygook without missionaries who can speak and embody the stories in the heart-language of the culture.
      You and I belong to Christ today because people in the past took a missionary approach. What would it look like for us to do the same?

  4. Thanks for this insight, Jon! I’ve actually learned a lot in the past few months about evangelism and Christianity and authentic relationships and perceptions. The setting for this learning? A Bible study I’m in with my neighbor, who is a Jehovah’s Witness. The sad truth is, too few of us are aware of how irrelevant or insensitive or simplistic or offensive we can be, mainly because we see unbelievers as projects rather than people.