Taken As Read
Michael Haighton, St John's Communication Centre, Trowbridge, 2005, 77p, £3.50
This small book of 75 pages struck a chord with me in its concern that contemporary evangelicalism often seems to assume the Bible message: taking it ‘as read’. Concentrating on understanding culture and methodology is resulting in a generation growing up without basic knowledge of the biblical faith. Not only is this true of those who have no regular contact with the church; within the church there is increasing biblical illiteracy.
This booklet is a cri de coeur from Michael Haighton about so much in the modern church that disappoints and alarms him. I am sympathetic to a lot of what he says - but then I belong to the over-sixties age group which he contrasts with the under-sixties in terms of Bible knowledge. I suspect, however, that this title will only be read by the former group and younger readers may feel it is whistling for the past. That would be a pity.
The book focuses not so much on preaching as on the place of the Bible in the life of the church. In worship Haighton is saddened by the decline in the amount of scripture read, and gives hints on effective reading and underlines the need for biblically-accurate hymns and songs. He offers helpful challenges about the use of the Bible in pastoral work and about the importance of teaching the Bible (including memorisation and catechising) to children.
Haighton concludes: ‘Maintaining the public reading of scripture must be a priority, for we can never afford to rely on it being ‘Taken as Read’. Agreed, but I missed the plea of the Ethiopian: ‘How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?’ (Acts 8:31). I was reminded of the Puritan view that the supreme means of grace is the preaching, the exposition of the Word, not the mere reading of it.
Reviewed by the Revd Colin Reasbeck a supernumerary minister in Doncaster.
Headline Autumn 2006 p.27