Is Access Enough?

I am reading a challenging but thoroughly interesting book these days. It is, The People’s Book, edited by Jennifer Powell McNutt and David Lauber. This collection of Papers is in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the appearance of Luther’s Ninety-five Thesis.

In a chapter by G. Sujin Pak, Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity at Duke University, there is a focus we do well to stop and ponder. Dr. Pak points out that the usual view of that time and environment was that church leadership had forbidden all but the clergy and the professors from having scripture, reading it for themselves, and sharing it with others. The truth is, Pak says, is that all laypersons had, at some location, access to the scriptures. But, there was a catch…

Also, themes such as salvation by grace had been talked about in many of the ivory towers of theology. But, there was a catch…

Dr. Pak says that one of the major effects of the reformation was to move this mere access to the scripture, all the way over to action about the scripture. The catch mentioned above was that the discussion of scripture often stayed in the ivory tower. Plus, even though the layperson could obtain access to scripture, the layperson was often discouraged from doing so by 1) leaders who told them they would be wasting their time and would only be confused, and 2) leaders who, themselves, did not read much scripture, but only literature about scripture.

A major outgrowth of the Reformation that affected all churches and all believers was the move to action about the Word of God. Scriptures were rediscovered and were proclaimed in the churches and even in the homes and the streets. Scriptures like…

John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” (Jesus)

Joel 2:28, “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.”

I Peter 2:9, But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;…”

I Corinthians 14:31, For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;…”

What was this??? It looks like all believers were called to read, interpret, share with others, encourage and build up one another. Then, we have come to believe, that the Word of God, shared with one another, and voraciously taken in by the believers who are reading it, will be used by the Spirit of God to bring about growth and maturity in the lives of believers. This was the predecessor of our modern day Sunday School classes in which we grapple with the study of the word of God, whether we are clergy or layperson… whether we are young or old in the faith. It is the predecessor of the home group, if the home group meets for Bible study and Bible understanding. It is even the predecessor of the two people, or more people, or just one person who sit at someone’s table to open the Bible, and open their hearts to see what God will have for them.

It’s not just about access, it’s about action…


About geraldfordcounsel

I encourage people for a living.... By that I mean I am a Minister, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Writer, with a private practice in Sugar Land, Texas. My Office Phone is 281-277-8811
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