Do the older members of the youth group still learn Bible verses like they used to?
Your curate was challenged on this matter last week by an older pastor speaking to an evangelical ministers' meeting here in Sheffield. He asked us whether we were still learning verses because we seemed to have trouble identifying the Bible passages he was quoting from.
Thirty years ago cc had a notebook with the Bible verses he was learning. The verses were pertinent to the temptations he was facing at that time.
The temptations have not gone away but the notebook has.
Evangelical ministers converted to Christ before the 1960s - the kind of men who taught those of us at the older end of the youth group - were very keen on learning Bible verses because they thought that it would help them with their personal work.
And they were right. Provided biblical quotations can be introduced naturally into evangelistic and pastoral conversations, they enormously enhance our Christian calling 'to speak the truth in love' (Ephesians 4v15).
The rise of the expository preaching movement in the last 30 years has
rightly made UK classic evangelicals wary of the chocolate box approach to
the Bible. But such caution should not blind us to the fact that there
are particular verses that do express wonderful distillations of
biblical truth. With proper awareness of their context, they surely
deserve to be committed to memory.
Pre-1960s evangelicals were helped by the fact that the Authorised Version was still pretty much standard. The plethora of versions in our generation can perhaps make learning verses verbatim more difficult. But the answer to that of course is to stick with one modern English version for our memorising, for example the New International Version or the English Standard Version.
Regrettably, in our prima donna culture it needs to be said that memorising verses in order to show off one's biblical knowledge and/or make other Christians feel ignorant is entirely the wrong motivation, for 'knowledge puffs up, but love builds up'.
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