The Bible is still the book we should all turn to

I love words and I learned a new one last week – fandom. It means a large group of people who are fans together of someone or something.

By Rev Dr Norman Hamilton
Saturday, 12th February 2022, 10:09 am
Rev Norman Hamilton
Rev Norman Hamilton

Football supporters and the fans of celebrities are good examples. However, I discovered the word through a recent book entitled ‘New Religions for a Godless World’ (by Tara Burton), which explores all sorts of alternative ‘religions’.

Amongst them is the promise of what can be achieved through artificial intelligence, as well as what you can find on the internet to help meet your deepest needs. And since nearly everybody wants purpose and meaning in life, fandom can surface for almost

anything.

In this brave new world, Tara Burton points out that Christianity is still the religion of the printed book – the Bible – even though, of course, we can all have it on our computers or phones. Indeed, that’s what I use when following the readings in church every Sunday. Yet, the printed page is still what I prefer, for it allows me to take the readings more slowly than I would do on a phone, and allows me to refer to another passage even more easily than having to search for it on the computer screen.

Sadly, however, almost all the research in recent years suggests that regular Bible reading is steadily declining amongst both church goers and the wider public. This in turn means that it is less and less well understood and, for many children and young people, it is effectively an unknown and closed book.

This decline opens the door to fandom and devotion to almost anything, including the celebrity culture. For example, the Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has over 150 million followers on Facebook. Though, it has to be said that he is a truly wonderful footballer.

Getting ourselves, our families and our friends back to a working knowledge of the Bible is essential if we are to be active followers of Christ. That takes determination and discipline over quite a long period of time. The sermon on a Sunday morning is not sufficient in itself. I need the Holy Spirit to open the scriptures to me day in day out, week in week out, if I am to have confidence in the Bible and understand the mind of God a little better for the ever-changing challenges of everyday life.

I need the stimulus of Bible reading notes to bring daily discipline. And I need to both make and take the opportunity to discuss what I am reading in the Bible with others, and to learn from them along the way.

Might there be a real opportunity for fandom to become a happy reality for those of us who see the Bible as the Word of God to us all? Enthusiasm for the scriptures as a normal topic of conversation? I have to say – I rather like that idea. Do you?