What future is there for the Bible in our churches?
Author: Henri Bacher

"The greatest difficulty is no longer distribution, but appropriating the content of the Bible... There is a need to teach believers to meditate and, as in any learning process, you have to give regular booster injections if you want people to continue. We have often rambled on about the Bible, in sermons and Bible studies, but have we truly helped Christians to engage with the Bible in their day-to-day living?"

In this article, Henri Bacher describes some of the reasons for the erosion of Bible practice in the church and in believers' lives. Rather than starting with communication techniques, his suggested solutions major on the value of community. The idea is to encourage group interaction, networking and mutual encouragement, helping others to enter into regular, personal meditation.

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 Harriet H  |    Wed 24 Feb 2010, 22:08

Totally exciting and wonderful stuff. A comment on this part of Henri's article: "But this isn’t a sufficient argument to suggest that the Bible texts can be understood as if by magic, just because they are the Word of God. God does not dispense with culture when making himself understood. The Bible must be translated into the language of potential readers. However, the readers also need at the very least to have an understanding of the vocabulary used, because it is not a part of their everyday life."

What does it mean to have an understanding the "vocabulary"? What does Henri mean 'to not dispense with culture'? He says the Bible communicates to us, but not as if by magic. Communication theory shows that meaning is not in the text but in the minds of the communicators. The text only serves to point us to the intended meaning. Hearers always combine the text with what they already know and infer the intended meaning. To connect with the meaning communicated by Scripture, then, we need more than the text; we need to understand what came to mind for the first audience when they heard the 'vocabulary'. It brought to their minds huge reservoirs of cultural knowledge. If we approach Scripture without this knowledge, it seems dull, like so what? Like watching a movie in black and white. Or like speaking a language we've just learned, and understanding the words/sentences people are saying but still not having a clue about what they mean. This is either confusing or boring. Not engaging.

Biblical studies, translation, and missiology have been built on the code model of communication, that you have an idea, encode it, I decode it, and I have your idea. Cultural context did not have a significant role in the model. That's how telegraphs work, but it's not how human communication works. Thankfully, we're getting better models that reflect reality better, and can help us maximize on the intuitions we've had all along.