It really should not have been a news story. A preacher (very loosely used) of 50 people in Florida becomes national news. With so many churches doing great works that could be highlighted it is truly a shame. But that is not the subject of this post. The subject of this post is the misuse of Scripture by some to justify the practice. I highlight this reason because it shows the need for careful reading of the Bible.
Let’s be honest. There are few regular Bible readers. Let’s be more honest many people who are regular Bible readers are not careful readers. We have been taught in Bible study to simply read until something inspires us and be done. This sounds great and even spiritual, but is this really doing justice to the word of God. Is the word of God really just there for us to read, find something thought provoking, and move on. I say no!
If we believe the Bible is God’s word. That it is the message of God to His people then it deserves more respect than that. It deserves our careful attention, our meditation, and a close reading. It deserves us putting our best efforts into understanding this communication. This is the main reason I started this website. I think we need to return to careful Bible Study. We need to be diligent enough to dedicate ourselves to His word.
This seriousness means practicing intentionally good Bible study habits. It means investigating books of the Bible not isolated verses. It means allowing God’s Word to lead wherever it may take us and not to force ourselves upon the text. It means that when we do topical studies that we are honest with what the Scriptures say on the subject and that we do not rip texts from their appropriate contexts.
Let me be blunt: bad Bible Study makes me sick. I want to help people be better students of God’s Word. Not so they can improve their knowledge base, but so people can have a true relationship with God. I want people to be convinced there is a God, His word is true, and that His Son was raised. This is why I write apologetics. I want people to better understand every book of the Bible in its context. This is why we do a book by book study. I want people to know what the Scriptures teach on important subjects. This is why I do topical studies. I want people to develop a deeper, committed relationship with God. This is why we include devotionals. I want people to feel free to ask Christians and interact. This is why I love comments.
Now back to the verse out of context. Many use Acts 19:19 to justify the book burning practice. A quick reading might lead someone to believe that this is an example of Christians burning idolatrous books. But is it really saying Christians should be burning others religious books? Notice what is happening here. Those who practiced sorcery are burning their own books. This is a mark of their true conversion and repentance. If this church (loosely use) in Gainesville was made up of a group of Muslims who recently converted and decided that as an act of repentance and conversion they needed to burn the books, then maybe it would be similar to the Acts 19 account. However, for a group of people who are not Muslim converts to burn the Quran for the purpose of publicity is well beyond what this Scripture is teaching. Maybe some good Bible study would have stopped this whole incident.