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One Place the Bible Truly Needs to Be

The Bible was sometimes chained to the pulpit of a church building hundreds of years ago in Europe. Catholic Churches in the Middle Ages made use of this practice allegedly to keep people from stealing it. The Church of England under Henry VIII adopted this custom to promote their newly authorized translation called “the Great Bible.” In a land like ours with so many copies of the Scriptures, securing a Bible to the speaker’s stand seems odd.

Catholics today tell us this had nothing to do with the idea that their church leaders didn’t want common people to own a Bible and interpret it for themselves. But the fact is that there was a lot of manipulation and hypocrisy involved with this practice. The Catholic Church does claim that the Bible is their book and that they alone decide which books belong in it and what its true meaning in doctrine is. This goes completely against what we plainly read in the Scriptures. Paul said that God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4). He talked to the church at Ephesus about the things he had written and explained, “by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:3-4). If these Christians could read and understand the Bible, so can we.

But perhaps there is a lesson in this ancient practice. If there is one place the Bible needs to be today, it is in the pulpit. This should be natural and expected, but often it is not. Pulpits today—if the church even has one—are full of everything else: testimonials, drama, comedy routines, humanistic psychology, cultural and ethnic special interests, and the endless “deep” writings of theologians. Even when the Bible is used, a great deal of it is left out because many sections of the Scripture are too controversial and offensive to this delicate generation. Many are more interested in entertainment than edification. Their goal is a more comfortable and satisfying life on earth rather than an eternal home in heaven.

The pulpit is a place where the Bible ought to be preached. The preacher should never be ashamed to open it, read it, explain it, and apply it. He must never be afraid to preach what it says because someone might be offended. His job is to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2). We need more men like this. We need men who are “mighty in the Scriptures” and “fervent in spirit” like Apollos (Acts 18:24-25). The world is perishing without Christ and we must have pulpits with open Bibles and preachers who will preach it. In that sense the Bible needs to be chained to the podium. Better still, the heart of the preacher needs to be filled with the Bible and the members need to have it engraved on the tables of their heart at all times.

Kerry

West End Church of Christ bulletin for October 24, 2021

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