In an article for GQ Magazine USA the editors slam the Bible as one of the 21 well-known books you don’t need to read before you die.
To be fair to the context, some other books considered classics are also panned, including the charming Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and the epic The Lord of the Rings. So the article is clearly seeking to provoke debate in a light-hearted way. However, what they say about the Bible is challenging.
They suggest that it is “rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it”. This has a ring of truth to it; there are many people who would talk about their admiration and respect for the Bible but who have never sat down and read it for more than a few minutes in their whole lives. But perhaps worse than that is the hypocrisy of many of us believers who talk about how much we love the word of God but can’t be bothered to really study it – and certainly don’t want to live the radical, sacrificial lives to which it calls us.
The saddest part of the review is the comment that “…those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”
To describe the Bible in that way may be just plain ignorance, but it might also be true that in the way it is taught, we Christians have turned the Bible into a theological text book and not a story. But the good news in the Old and the New Testaments is not a series of abstract propositions, but the story of God’s salvation which runs from Creation to New Creation, climaxing in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and his eternal reign. His story is the one that makes sense of every other story in the whole of history. The Bible itself is coherent whole and it contains many short stories that make up parts of the Big Story. We need to learn how to tell the Bible story, the gospel story, which is a better one than the world can ever tell.
And you definitely need to hear it before you die.