All Christians, but more especially evangelicals, say that the Bible has the central place. It establishes Christian doctrine, and it provides guidelines for Christian conduct. We feel that is what the reformation was all about. It is a dogma with us that the Bible is THE book.

Why then can J. D. Smart write a book entitled The Strange Silence of the Bible in the Church? The very appearance of his book shows quite plainly the possibility of arguing that the Bible’s influence on Christians is less than it used to be, perhaps even nonexistent. This is enough to cause evangelical hackles to rise. We maintain that the Bible is our one authority. We insist that it is not through tradition, not through sanctified human reason, not through another book, but only through the Bible that we are able to discern the authoritative word of God.

Our words are the right ones. But what I want to ask is whether in fact we really let the Bible speak to us.

Sometimes we are so familiar with the words of the Bible that we simply let them flow over us without ever really taking them in. We rejoice in the sound of familiar passages with their well-remembered beauty. In our certainty that we know what they are saying, we do not stop to ask what they mean.

In some Anglican circles it has become fashionable to object to the singing of the Magnificat, the Song of Mary (Luke 1:46–55), at evening worship. A long-haired youth explained to me that he saw no reason why the church should go on singing the song of a pregnant woman. Putting aside the not unimportant fact that there seems no reason why a pregnant woman should not compose a song worth singing, we can see that my friend has obviously not thought about the words in question. He was all for revolution, ...

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