The Bible – hands down.
Just how many Bibles have been sold to make it the #1 All Time Best Seller in the world? Try 2.5 billion. Add eight zeros to that 2.5. That’s a lot of Bibles!
Such information has not always been available to us for several reasons. Not so very many years ago, obtaining a Bible was costly because of the expense involved in printing. Before the printing press was created in 1440 Bibles had to be copied by hand. Few could afford to own one for personal use. Once the printing press with moveable type was developed, the Bible was published soon after in 1450. This was the Gutenberg Bible, printed by Johannes Gutenberg from Mainz, Germany. It was also known as the 42-line Bible, and the Mazarin Bible. It didn’t take long for Bibles to start rolling off the presses, even though the cost was still out of reach for most folks.
Fast forward to the early 1800s. European nations were still mostly ruled by monarchs (kings, queens or dictators), whereas in the United States, with its new republican form of government (that is, a government of the people; a government by representatives chosen by the people), an emerging middle class was developing that quickly began to move up from the poverty level, and acquire significant “fruit for their labor.” Living hand-to-mouth became less the norm. On the other hand, for the average worker, he soon discovered he had what has become known as “expendable income.” Americans could now buy luxury items, items that were not essential in keeping body and soul together. As a Christian nation, a nation that revered the Bible, even using it early on in our history as a primer in the school system, Americans would buy a Bible before anything else. More due to the size of print and thickness of paper, Bibles were large and heavy. Thus, people would buy a “Family Bible,” which would be passed down to succeeding generations.
In 1815 sales records began to be kept on the sale of Bibles. Since that time, as I stated earlier, approximately 2.5 billion Bibles have been sold.
Fast forward now to 2007. A story broke last week concerning a Texas legislator putting forward a bill which would mandate Texas high schools to offer history and literacy courses on the Old and New Testaments. It is important to note that this course would be an elective. If you’re not familiar with this term, an elective course is one that is not required for graduation. Each student is authorized to take a certain number of elective courses.
Representative Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, author of the bill, is quoted as saying, “We’re not going to preach the Bible, we’re going to teach the Bible and how it affects all of our writings, documents and the formation of our government. We’re taking it as a document that has historical value. It’s the most widely distributed book in the world.”
As you would expect, there are various organizations that are opposed to this bill. However, the bill is careful to say that the courses must be taught in an, “objective and non-devotional manner” that does not attempt to indoctrinate students. That’s fair enough.
But let me ask this question: Are other courses of instruction which are presently administered in our school systems required to be taught in an “objective and non-devotional manner” that does not attempt to indoctrinate students? Let me give you an example. Despite the hysteria raised against those of us who believe in a Creator God, and that there is no verifiable evidence to support the theories of evolution, our students are indeed indoctrinated in this supposed scientific discipline. Evolution is taught in our schools as fact. And this is one of those classes that is required for graduation. It is not an elective.
I’m simply suggesting that there is no level playing field in our educational institutions.
I have enjoyed studying all my life. It is a source of joy for me. I have also made it a habit to study beliefs I do not necessarily embrace. While in seminary, I would research the beliefs of those who were opposed to the Christian faith, such as Karl Marx, Voltaire, etc. I also have found it to be most enlightening to study religious faiths that are different than my own. I also encourage my congregation to study and know more about such things. It’s called “education.”
It would seem that in our country today, too many Americans have arrived at a point where they are fearful of those with differing views. Everyone else is perceived as a threat. That’s a pity. Our students deserve better. Let them be encouraged to learn all they can so they can then decide for themselves.
What will become of the bill in Texas? I don’t know, but I’m almost certain it will become embroiled in legal deliberations.
Teaching the Bible so students can better understand our nation’s historical roots makes perfect sense. We should value the study of history, not vilify it.
And then I read today that the school system in Great Britain will no longer teach about the Holocaust because Muslim students don’t believe the Holocaust ever happened. To continue to teach it would “offend them.”
On my last day in Jerusalem a few weeks back, I spent a couple of hours in the Holocaust Museum. It was one of the most sobering experiences of my life. To say this ghastly historic event didn’t happen is beyond the absurd.
God help us.