That word "Bible-minded"

February 11, 2014

I try not to post TOO many "you forgot about us mainline Protestants!" posts. The idea comes up almost daily when I'm going through the news and the blogs, but I know that kind of thing can get old so I try to set the bar pretty high.

If a person wanted to make this the focus of a blog, however, a person could do worse than to keep a close eye on the Barna Group. I've written before (just once. see?) about how much it bugs me that a research firm peddling its findings to the news media would define my faith tradition in almost entirely negative terms. Last month, Barna presented the results of its annual survey on "The Most and Least Bible-Minded Cities in the U.S." (The short version: the South is a lot Biblier than the Northeast.)

Here's how Barna measures relative Bibleocity: "Respondents who report reading the Bible within the past seven days and who agree [sic] strongly in the accuracy of the Bible are classified as 'Bible Minded.'"

"[Believe] strongly in the accuracy of the Bible?" Instead of, I don't know, find it foundational or formative or life-changing? Ken Ham believes strongly in the accuracy of the Bible; I love the Bible but I don't think accuracy is always the main thing at stake. Which of us is more Bible minded? I'd say that's a difficult question, and not a particularly useful one.

Evidently, the Barna Group disagrees with me on both fronts.

I'll let Clint Schnekloth pick it up from here:

Go to church in a Lutheran church some Sunday and set a timer. Measure how much of the service is taken up reading Scripture out loud. Then go to a "Bible" church, and set a timer to measure how much of the service is devoted to the public reading of Scripture. I guarantee the bible gets more air time in the Lutheran church.

Consider this alternative way to measure bible-mindedness. Go to these cities and measure how much time is devoted in public worship to the reading of Scripture in community. Call those cities bible-minded. Better yet, call those cities "predominately Catholic."

Read Clint's whole post, memorably titled "Hi, My Name is Clint, and I'm the Least Bible-Minded Pastor in America."

Meanwhile, the American Bible Society—which cosponsors this particular Barna survey—plans to control who can and can't run a website using a new ".bible" top-level domain. ABS's criterion: "individuals and groups who, regardless of faith, have a healthy respect for the Bible." That doesn't sound too bad—provided they take a broad view of whose respect is deemed sufficiently healthy.

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