I was browsing on the web this week and discovered a list of the most famous banned books. You’ve never guess what was on there…
Lent is traditionally a time for reflection and a period during which Christians are encouraged to devote time to reading the Bible (something we’re always called to do, of course, but this is a season acts as a great regular reminder of its importance). As part of my reading this year I have picked up a copy of a book by Nick Page called, ‘God’s Dangerous Book’. The cover matches the impact of its title with a picture of a typical black leather-bound book with Holy Bible embossed on it in gold, out of which rises a lit fuse as if it were an explosive about to blow! Sounds exciting doesn’t it, so what’s inside? The book itself is a standard sized paperback, written in an informal but informative style, covering the history of the Bible, paying attention to how it came together in the first place, how it later spread around the world, and finishing by looking at its translation into English.
This background is something I’ve always wanted to know more about, particularly the way in which the various sections of the Bible were recognized and first brought together. So far it has proved a good read, quick and clear, and I look forward to finishing it over the next week. Possibly, however, that outline might not seem to fit with the book’s title and dramatic cover. This is not just a scholarly book (and despite it’s light and jokey tone, it certainly gets across a lot of serious information) but also a work in which the author is at pains to recognize that this is not just any old book, but a book inspired by God whose contents are indeed life, even world changing. He talks about how Exodus inspired the slaves in America to raise up against their ‘masters’ just as the Jews were liberated from Pharaoh. He looks back to the Levellers and the Suffragettes and how they were inspired by Scripture and talks about how even today the Bible is banned in many countries because its contents clash with the principles of the authorities.
One quote that particularly struck me from the introduction was this,
‘You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.’
Incidentally, those words came from a certain Indian lawyer called Gandhi who read the Bible and who’s non-violent protest was very much inspired by it.
This is why I am committed to reading and sharing the Bible (yes, that was the book in the list of banned works I mentioned earlier) and encouraging us as a community to explore it together for he’s right, it is so much more than just a book, and I can say that because it has changed my life!
Church newsletter article, 16.03.14