Is Reading the Bible a Requirement for Christians?

I’ve been thinking recently about what my relationship to the Bible would have been if I had been born in a different time period. For example, if I had been born in Europe in A.D. 900, chances are I wouldn’t have been able to read or write. Nor would I have had access to anything to read, since the printing press was still a good 500 years in the future. Everything I would have known about the Bible would have been passed to me via someone connected with the Church.

It would have been impossible for me to read the Bible on my own. The concept of a personal quiet time with my Bible and my journal would have seemed ludicrous. In fact, I’d likely have been a Christian without having ever read the Bible myself.

Today, we have ready access to the Bible through the internet and mass-produced physical copies. The illiteracy rate in the United States is well below 10 percent. We have the ability to read the Bible and the education to understand it. We have 24/7 access to it in a huge variety of formats and languages. I’ve heard a sermon every year of my life about the importance of personal Bible study. While I happen to agree that reading the Bible is a spiritually rewarding experience, I keep coming back to the Christian of 900. Were they any less of a Christian than I because of their illiteracy?

Share your thoughts!

17 Responses to “Is Reading the Bible a Requirement for Christians?”

  • The Lord says that we need to eat His flesh and drink His blood. The bread is the Word and His blood, is our renewal. If we don’t partake of Him (word) and go through the regeneration (suffering and growing) we are not His Disciples.
    The only way for us to be Believers (the renewing of our minds) Overcomers is by the Blood and the Word of our testimonies. So, if we want to become more like Christ, then we have to go through tribulation and trials to be regenerated. He refines us through the fire. It is hard to go through tribulations and still of Joy! He said that the little pain we are going through now, will not compare to the Glory which be revealed in us.

    Yes, we need to eat the Word!

  • One more thing, Faith cometh by HEARING and HEARING Cometh from the word of God. So, if you can’t read, the Lord will definitely expose you without “reading”! Hearing is different than reading. The Lord said the Spirit leads us into the path of Righteousness. I found Jesus laying on a death bed in a hospital. The Lord sent His disciples to read the Word and I HEARD it. I was hungry.

    The wisdom of men is as foolishness to God.
    The Lord uses the foolish things and people to confound the wise.

  • Sean Scott says:

    The only requirement for salvation is to freely admit one needs the saving grace available through Jesus and accept it.

    We are told in the Bible that His word is life … to meditate on His word. For us today, yes we need to read the Bible.

    However, I don’t see how God would let millions of his children go simply because in their time of the Dark Ages the church was the only place where Bibles were found and only select few could read them. I believe that hearing His word, and accepting Jesus as the savior, was sufficient.

    God is a loving, understanding and forgiving God.

  • Gary P says:

    The Scripture says “To whom much is given much is required” Luke 12:48; Matthew 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18; Luke 19:2

  • Peter Q says:

    Knowledge is passed down through the five senses; seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. When you don’t have literature, it just means that knowledge has to be transmitted through another medium. Similiar, the people in the past had no access to Scripture; either they could not read it, or it was kept under lock and key to prevent its loss. So, to the laypeople, their knowledge of God is limited to what they hear or experienced in their daily life.

    Now that God’s Word is made available to all in the form of the Bible, plus the fact that most people are educated, people living in the post modern age really have very little excuse to say that we do not know God.

  • Shekinah says:

    I do not believe we need to read the bible to become a Christian, however, reading the bible better equips us to become more victorious in our Christian walk. Some people reply solely on their Pastors, Preachers, Priest, and so on and such. Study to show thyself approve unto God a workman that needth not be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. The priest in old times sort of was a form of a living bible for the people. As the word was written it slowly became a manual for those of us today to have access to it. How awesome we have it in today’s time to be able to read it daily for ourselves. What a priviledge. We are still commanded to hear what thus said the Lord whether by reading or hearing. A simple response would be after we are regenerated…wouldn’t or shouldn’t we want to read it?

  • teek says:

    Gary P has the good answer. Someone living in 900 AD may have had accesses to churches and people who knew the Bible, but someone living in 300 AD might have only had someone who heard of someone who knew something, whereas every one of us living in 2010 AD have been given access to so much. We have such an abundance of lessons on how to live a spiritual life in fellowship with God. I find it upsetting that even though the information is freely and widely available, living by love and grace and faith in God seems to be rejected now more than ever. Surely, it will be seen to be true, that very much more will be required of us all in this age, compared to those living in 900, 300, and even 1955 AD (just 55 years ago!).

  • richkiddo says:

    they r no les of a chrstian yhan we r today. things in life happen for a reason. people back then probably could not read, write nor understand clearly but they had a gift to praise God. he allows things to happen so we can talk to him and get answes to what we dont understand.

  • Jessica says:

    Less of a Christian – a Christ follower. That is an interesting question, but my thought is what a wonderful thing oral traditions are. I come from a culture where oral traditions are still very prominent, so it is not difficult to imagine God’s word being passed from person to person.
    Also, let’s remember that the Bible as we identify it was not even what the Apostles had. What a wonderful thing to have now, translations of the Bible in so many languages, in print, on-line, audio – praise God for this blessing!
    At the same time, are we “more” of a Christan than those who came before? No, I don’t think so. Who of the original followers were more of a follower than another? Seems a rather human scale dosn’t it.

  • Rick says:

    Shekinah, I agree.. God used many groups of Christians and specific people to spread His gospel through the masses of people in the early years of the Church and perhaps even much greater miracles that spread through word of mouth beyond what we have as typical written record… Even though the “Word” may have been in Latin and interpreted through a person rather than freely available to the common masses.. the gospel did proliferate.. in letter or book form or otherwise..

    With the printing press and the bible in the hands of at least in reach of nearly every human being through PC’s, TV and Radio…. are we missing the early message because of educational focus on the Word? I hear some saying that people worship the bible and not God… Yet Jesus is the Word of God.. Jesus is the Logos.. and the story about God and what He did is awe inspiring .. to lead many to Jesus. With that baseline.. all life currently can be interpreted and with that baseline the movements of the Holy Spirit (prominent or miniscule) can have a source to be agreed upon.

  • Philip Gobinath K. says:

    I believe God has a purpose even when time is concerned . To whom much is given much is expected. Today , we have no excuse for being ignorant of God’s words. We are practically surrounded by spriritual knowledge whatever the platform is available …and of course the great teacher of all , the HOLY SPIRIT who is in us. When Jesus “left” , the Holy Spirit continued to minister to those who sought the Lord and slowly but surely without the high tech facilities we have today the Christian of the early days was exposed to the word of God.In this context or time frame I do not think the Christian of that era was any lesser than what we are today.

  • hctan says:

    From the time of Adam till Prophets in the old testament, the word of God has been passed on through various means of communication not necessarily in written form. The most important is the word of God that dwell in the heart of man lest we sin against Him. That is the primary aim of God that we learn his instructions and act upon it. Today we learn more about this God through the availability of printed or electronic materials.Our knowledge has increased so does our faith and understanding hopefully.

  • hctan says:

    Our faith do not measure by how much knowledge we gain from our learning but by how much we put them to practice. One of the example was Abraham. He was reckoned righteous from the faith manifested through his actions.Gen15:6 Heb11:11

  • Nate says:

    As Christians – the Bible is the Word of God – so we are selfish to deny the value of spending our time in it. The Holy Spirit will always reach those who don’t know God’s commandments via texts such as remote African tribes – indigenous tribes in the Amazon – or orphans who have no access to Christians themselves. But as Christians living in such a technological world – there is absolutely no excuse for us to say that the Bible isn’t important. Yes – sometimes I’m not in the mood to open The Word. Yes, sometimes it’s confusing. Yes, I sometimes I live in my own mind. But in the end – Jesus is always calling on my heart whether or not I choose to encounter Him or choose to go my own way.

    The rules we make for ourselves are based on the bible but our man made laws are typically formed from speculation and misunderstandings. We can and never will make policies and rules that adhere to what God truly demands of us – because we are sinners. Even though we think we are educated in God’s Word – we still live in a world of men.

    My point is this: People who have not read the Bible still can be Christians because God calls on every man. Love is from God, from Jesus. Jesus was Love and Love resides in every human soul whether it is attributed to the name of Jesus or not. I’m not saying that Christ is not needed for Salvation, but what I am saying is that truly ignorant men who have never heard of Christianity and worship the sun, moon, and stars – will be called upon by Jesus at some point in their lives , regardless of tangible texts.

  • My time with God is life and breath for me. It would be no different if I could not read, and had no Bible. I would spend the time singing, praying, recalling stories I’ed heard at church, or with other believers. I also believe that if a people do not have the Bible in their language, the Holy Spirit shows himself in more obvious ways. The reason we don’t see the Holy Spirit as more active in our lives, is because we already know what he said in the Bible, and yet choose to ignore it. Why should he bother with further demonstrations of his presence?

  • Khumbulani K says:

    From as far back as Deuteronomy and Joshua (cf. Deut5:31 & 6:6; Josh1:8) God commanded that His people everywhere KNOW His Word, meditate on it, and live it out. David reiterates in Psalm 1. Jesus tells the Sadducees in Matt22:29, that they ERR not knowing the scriptures. Even Adam and eve in eden before the fall had to remember Gods Word(s) , or commandments.
    That call is still as valid now as it were then.
    I guess the main issue for them, and us, was and is to know and understand what God says (or Gods Word) thus loving God with our all and living the lives he desires.
    The people of old, probably mostly had oral tradition (see Deut 6:7) and even today its the responsibility of parents to pass on, or teach, the ‘character of God’ in word, in deed, and yes, in ‘parchment’ also.

    But, some people dont have that, or they get saved later on in their lives, and thus it is vital that they read the scriptures to know God, and for “life and godliness” (2Pet 1:3).
    The Israelites learnt the word of God (God was very audible for them at times), and they passed it on(hopefully!!), Jesus was very learned in the scriptures, the Bereans (new converts then) studied the Word carefully (Acts17:11)and daily!, and Paul also encouraged Timothy to study the Word (2Tim2:15).

    On the Christians of ‘that’ time;
    Jesus said that, he that would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God, let him be the least (Matt18, Mark 9:33-36). So to be less or more of a Christian is between each of us and God.

    Is the Bible a Requirement for Christians?
    How would it not be? Our ‘all’ in life is to love God. To know Him and live our lives for Him is all in that, and the Bible shows us that (2Tim3:16-17).
    Our passion should be on things above (Col3:2), and in our day of literacy and literature abundance (Christian literature), the Bible and Christian literature should be our passion, as they are essential for our growth anyway. Gods grace is sufficient too for those that cant read.

    The grass withers, the flower fades: but the Word of our God shall stand forever. Isaiah 40:8.

  • Jessica says:

    I love all the discussion here! I just have to jump back in.

    There are many scriptures being tossed about concerning God’s word – and the thing is that you are all correct when you mean that we need to consume God’s word. However, the Word does not necessarily mean written…. I don’t see that anywhere. Let’s be careful not to make modern day assumptions about words.