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“Are you a Bible-reading Christian?”

Man Reading Bible

“Are you a Bible-reading Christian?”: An Urgent Question for Renewing Our Holistic being as faithful Followers of Christ

According to The Salvation Army Year Book 2015, there are currently over 41,000 Salvationists in the USA Eastern Territory. These individuals not only represent lives commited to holiness but also our corporate unity for participating in God’s Kingdom mission through The Salvation Army.

We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.   First Doctrine of The Salvation Army

Salvationists will agree that it was not by accident that our first doctrine is the corporate declaration of our commitment to the Bible. Based on this self-affirmation of who we are, it is crucial to acknowledge that the Bible is the central and foundational ground of our holiness movement and mission. Truly, we Salvationists are people of the Bible. However, considering today’s secularized society, it is my self-reflective questions for all Salvationists: “Are we truly faithful Bible-reading Christians?” “Are we sure that we are free from the issue of Biblical illiteracy among the Salvationists in our territory?” These two urgent inquiries should be considered prime in our efforts to renew our individual Salvationist’s holistic being as a faithful follower of Christ.

Under the vision and leadership of our territorial leaders, Commissioners Barry and Sue Swanson, our territory has launched the territorial STRIKEPOINT mission agenda, which emphasizes the fourfold aspects of today’s Salvation Army ministry. STRIKEPOINT is about “Deeper Discipleship, Skilled Leadership, Integrated Mission and Young Adult Empowerment.” I believe that the most critical and basic way of participating and vitalizing the vision of STRIKEPOINT is to discipline and nurture ourselves into a Bible Shaped Life of Holiness.

Unfortunately, it is my conviction that we are not exempt from the issue of biblical illiteracy within our territory. This is a problem we that we need to face. Donald Burke, president of Booth University College in Winnipeg, laments:

Although we affirm Scripture’s importance, Biblical literacy among Salvationists (and other Christians) is diminishing rapidly. The Bible plays a decreasing role in most sermons, partly because it is mistakenly viewed as being irrelevant to life in the 21st century. Sunday school curricula often trivialize Scripture in an attempt to be fun or trendy. Bible study groups spend less time studying and function more like group therapy sessions. The result is that we can no longer assume a shared knowledge of the Bible (Donald Burke, “Are We Biblically illiterate?” Salvationists, August 2011:18).

We need to examine where we stand on this issue and provide a systematic and practical tool or channel for correcting and improving this issue. In this way our territory can continually sustain the Bible-centered foundation of The Salvation Army that we’ve inherited. The transformational discipline of Bible-reading with a prayerful heart should be a fundamental way of bringing us into the fruitful harvest of God’s Kingdom business which requires us to enjoy the intimate, Word-centered relationship with God who reveals Himself to us in Scripture.

In The Soul-Winner’s Secret, our “teacher of holiness” Samuel Logan Brengle testifies, “Personally, for years I have given the best hour of the day to the Bible, and now I want it more than I want my food.” May Brengle’s holy longing become our daily prayer and transformational discipline in order to be God-honoring soldiers of Christ through our daily Bible reading.

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