"Social activity is our responsibility in the discipling process. Once a person has responded to the love of Christ, we are to help them grow up in their faith. Setting them free from the chains of sin and yet not removing them from the chains of illiteracy and thus oppression is not loving my neighbor."
In 'Is Hearing Enough?', Don Edwards presents research carried out in India, where a significant percentage of new church leaders and believers cannot read. He argues the case for literacy to play an important role in discipleship efforts as part of what it means to love our neighbor.
In the light of the growing focus on Orality, the author challenges us not to lose sight of the vital role that literacy plays in grounding believers in their faith.
Here are some more quotes from the book:
"Many believe storytelling and talking Bibles should be the major focus of evangelism and discipleship efforts in developing nations. Without a corresponding emphasis on literacy, Orality's significant contributions will quickly fade." (p. ix)
"Literacy and orality movements are partners, not antagonists. The acceptance of one does not negate the value of the other. Methodologies promoted by the Orality Movement are useful in the discipling process whether or not the person is literate." (p.43)
"An oral Bible is good, and in some places necessary. But bringing literacy to the emerging church, especially to the leadership, should also be a clear objective of mission efforts. Without it, distortion of biblical truth is inevitable." (p.48)
"Oral disciples and even oral leaders are limited in their ability to retain the basic biblical foundations for enduring discipleship. New disciples need to open their eyes to read God's Word. In India today, the emerging church is growing rapidly. An important task of the disciple-maker is to see that the Word of God is available to, at a minimum, the leadership of these churches. Not all disciples need to be able to read the Bible for themselves. But they must regularly hear the Word from their leadership." (p.57)
"The written Word only brings value if one can read it. It would seem that a shift in strategy is advisable from Scripture placement to teaching leaders and believers to read the Word of God they already have in their hands. Unfortunately, it is easier to raise money for Bibles whether or not they are needed, than to teach people to read the Bible." (p.109)