The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. celebrates history and literature on a global scale. And the first thing you notice upon entering this architectural showplace is an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible. That’s right, the centerpiece of the elaborate, sprawling exhibition is a copy of the Holy Bible. Read the printed museum card alongside and you’ll discover the Gutenberg Bible represents “an immense forward step in the emancipation of the human mind.”
Being a library, the institution is obviously excited about the machinery that produced that particular Bible, the Gutenberg press with movable type. But even that breakthrough underscores the obvious question, “Why did this particular book lead to the invention of modern printing?”
The Bible demanded a revolution in bookmaking because so many people wanted to read it. It was not enough to see it or borrow it. Masses of people who had never before read a book wanted to own a copy of this book in order to study it, reflect upon it, and read it to their children again and again. People were literally dying to read this book, and translators were often arrested and executed as well!
It is a book so radical and so consequential that totalitarians have often banned it from whole nations. When copies were smuggled in, they were ferreted out and burned. That just created a greater demand, of course.
Because of this book, people cried out for education- to be able to read. One of the primary missions of a church was to teach reading so people could draw the ideas of God into their hearts and minds. Governments didn’t demand education for their people: churches did. That’s why the first universities launched in the American colonies were Bible Colleges: schools like Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale. They were, of course, organized by churches.
It’s tragic the Bible doesn’t get much respect in American schools and colleges today. More tragic still, it doesn’t get read very often. Too commonly, the very Americans who celebrate The Book are too busy, too complacent to open it, to study it. We assume that we’re already familiar with those inspiring ideas. In fact, being familiar with a set of ideas is a far cry from being shaped and motivated by them. Being transformed daily by the truths of God requires daily exposure to those radical principles.
Not surprisingly, research confirms the most important discipleship strategy a church can advance today is Bible reading. People change when they read this explosive book. Read your Bible and it will flag dangerous attitudes developing in your heart. Read your Bible and the things God loves will be reinforced in your mind. Read your Bible and you will know the truth… and you know what truth does to a man or woman!
Celebrate the Word of God this Summer. But more importantly, read it. Read it with your family. Encourage your friends to read it. It is still the most important step on the road to an emancipated human mind. Read it again… like you’ve never read it before.
Lift up the Cross!