This essay is going to analyse whether you need to read the bible to be Christian, by looking at two sides of the argument. Many Christians and non-Christians believe strongly that to be classed as a Christian, you must read the bible. On one hand, the bible is the only Christian holy book. It contains the Christian teachings, unchanged since they were written, which gives guidelines and advice on how Christians should live their everyday life. For example, Genesis 19v. 1-29 for on advice for sex and 2 Timothy 2:22 for advice on priorities and dealing with stress.
It is also the only scripture where Jesus is included. Evangelist Christians also use the bible in their daily rituals, which include preaching to the public from the bible. Practising Evangelists believe strongly that it is a service of theirs to preach from the bible and spread the Christian message. If they hadn’t read, the bible they would not be able to complete what they belief is a necessary part of their faith, and therefore may not be seen as a ‘proper’ Christian.
However, many Christians and non-Christians feel differently and believe that being a Christians does not necessarily involve reading the bible, as many Christians around the world are unable to read and write. The bible is also very controversial and contradicts itself on many occasions, for example the way to deal with crime or punishment. The Old Testament teaches retribution, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” yet conversely, Jesus taught reform and forgiveness, Matthew 5:40, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
This mixed message can create confusion in deciding which teaching to follow. There is also no-where in the bible where Christians are told to read it. Reverent Porter gave me this quote, “I believe that to be Christian you must have some knowledge of the bible, however this does not have to have been learnt by way of reading, but perhaps by word of mouth. By obtaining the teachings, a Christian is then open to way of interpretation, so understanding the key message of the different parables or books.
I have encountered Christians all over the world who have never been able to read, or even afford a bible, and yet they had vast knowledge of the meaning and significance of it, far greater than many Christians in the modern world do. ” (Summarised from a longer interview). In my opinion, a Christian must have knowledge of the bible and its teachings however, this does not mean it had to be gained by reading the bible. Another point is that by passing messages via mouth, the meaning can get lost or scrambled.
Although the bible contradicts itself, the Christian religion has many branches, some that follow the teachings in the Old Testament and some that follow the New Testament. I strongly agree with Rev. Porter with his comment on Christianity around the world, where people are unable to acquire bibles and have no choice but to learn the parables by ear, yet they are just as strong Christian as any other who has had the opportunity to read one. This also applies to people who can’t read the bible for medical reasons. So to conclude I believe that you do not have to read the bible to be a Christian.