Do you remember “sword drills”?
Growing up Baptist was not all bad. In those days at least, that was where you went if you really wanted to know the Bible. I learned the “Romans Road,” which led me to the doctrines of grace, in spite of my youth pastor who didn’t think I should keep reading Romans. My point is: There was a lot of Bible in the evangelical churches in the 1960s and the 1970s.
That has changed. Today, there are few churches where people are methodically taught to hide God’s word in their hearts. I’m Reformed now and in a good church where catechism is taken seriously—and yes, that includes lots of Bible.
Generally speaking, however, there isn’t much of that going around. Instead, we have stuff on dating and relationships, cultivating spiritual disciplines that sometimes (though not always) degenerate into a do-it-yourself piety, and evangelism (sharing the gospel we increasingly don’t know with others who know it even less).
In a recent Tabletalk article, Robert Godfrey says that the greatest need of the church today is to listen to God’s word. Really, to listen. Bible. Lots of it.
Over the years, I’ve noticed among seminary students a declining knowledge of the English Bible, even among folks who were raised in our churches. I see it in my own family. The smartphone is more pervasive, invasive, and comprehensive in the lives of young people today than an open Bible (even online). We care more about what people think on our Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or other social media platforms than about how God defines us in his unfolding story from Genesis to Revelation. That’s just a fact.
Here’s the thing, though: God created you and me. We are not our own by right of that free decision God made way back when. Then we are doubly not our own when Christ suffered and died for us on the cross and rose again for our justification.
God is not a supporting actor in our life movie: we are players in his unfolding drama that’s all about his glorification of himself through his Son’s incarnation, perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return in glory.
I don’t know a better story than that. Do you?
Michael Horton is editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation and the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California in Escondido.