The Way You’d Really Like a Young Person to Start Bible Study

On his or her own initiative, as was the case with Bossuet.  From R. de la Broise’s Bossuet and the Bible, pp. xiv-xv:

He was fifteen years old when a happy coincidence came to mind.  His father, who returned to Dijon from time to time, led him (Bossuet) to his office.  There the young man “threw his hand on a Latin Bible, which he took with his father’s permission.  It was the first time, studying in secondary school or in rhetoric, when he opened the holy Books.  He found a taste and a sublimity which made him prefer it to everything he had read until then.  He remembered and recalled it with pleasure, all through his life, when he had touched this reading for the first time.  This moment was always present and living to him as it was the first time, as his soul was struck with these things which left him with a more profound impression of joy and lights.”

First note: that the Bible was in Latin wasn’t an obstacle for Bossuet or for most educated people of the day.

Bossuet had been raised with both extracts from the Scriptures and of course the cycle of lectionary readings that came with the Mass.  But the enthusiasm with which he studied the Scriptures themselves is significant.

Evangelicals are always looking for ways to get their young people to read and study the Bible.  And, truth be told, their efforts have not been match by the results: Biblical ignorance remains a serious problem these days, as shown by the popularity of things such as The Shack.

I think the core of the problem is that the method of Evangelicals is geared toward those who lack basic curiosity about things.  As a result little is left to the imagination, especially in Biblical studies since the idea hangs on the Bible more than it hangs on God.  For many this works, but I am not convinced that it works for the kinds of leaders that Evangelicalism claims to be so enamoured with.

The liturgical system presents a temporal framework for the presentation of eternal truth.  Sooner or later some will attempt to go “behind the curtain” and that’s what happened with Bossuet and the Scriptures.  May our presentation of God’s truth inspire that in more people!

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