Catholics, Read Your Bible!

A common statement made by Protestants, or at least evangelical Christians, is that Catholics do not read the Bible, and thus are not familiar enough with it when discussing with them, especially when attempting to discuss our doctrines.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life publishes an annual “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which provides some interesting statistics on a host of religions and the views of its members (or at least the sample, which we would hope is representative of the larger population) on various issues, religious, political, moral, etc.  Here are a few statistics related to this post:

-Question: How often do you read scripture outside of religious services?

For Catholics, 21% said they read scripture at least once a week, 11% said once or twice a month, 10% said several times a year, 21% said seldom, and 36% said never.

Comparatively:

-For Evangelicals, 60% said at least once a week, 11% said once or twice a month, 7% said several times a year, 12% said seldom, and 9% said never.

-For Mormons (who of course have scriptures in addition to the Bible), 76% said at least once a week, 7% said once or twice a month, 4% said several times a year, 7% said seldom, and 6% said never.

-Question:Do you pray or read the Scripture with your child/children?

For Catholics, 63% said yes and 37% said no

Comparatively:

-For Evangelicals, 81% said yes and 19% said no

-For Mormons, 91% said yes and 9% said no

Question: Which comes closest to your view?

For Catholics, 23% believe that our Holy Book is the word of God, taken literally; 36% believe that it is the word of God, not taken literally; 3% said it is the word of God, other; 27% said it is a book written by men and not the word of God; 11% said other.

Comparatively:

-For Evangelicals, 59% believe the Bible to be the word of God to be taken literally; 25% believe it is the word of God not taken literally; 5% believe it is the word of God, other; 7% believe it is a book written by men and not the word of God; 5% said other

-For Mormons, 35% said their Scriptures are the word of God taken literally; 50% said they are the word of God, not taken literally; 7% said they are the word of God, other; 4% said they are books written by men and not the word of God; 4% said other.

Now, of course this is only one survey, however I believe that it does speak to an issue that I personally have noticed before.  As Catholics, we hear the Scriptures read every Sunday at Mass.  There are 4 readings from the Bible each Sunday, including the Psalms.  If one attends Vespers, there are also many readings there.  However, it seems as if more Catholics need to read the Bible outside of church.  I include myself in this, as before this year, I would only reference the Bible outside of church when I was arguing some doctrinal point.

Instead, we as Catholics need to remember that the Bible is the word of God, written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit.  A scriptural foundation is important when understanding what we believe as Catholics.  The Bible isn’t just a story book, or something that we receive as gifts that are put on display but never opened.  It is not something we hear on Sunday and just leave alone until the next week.

Therefore, I urge Catholics to crack open their Bibles and immerse themselves in the scriptures, and if you have children, to read with them as well (there are even many versions of the Bible for children to get them started).  The New American Bible is the version used during Mass, and is certainly great for your own independent reading, and is also the version that I am currently reading.  Never use the King James Version, unless you are doing so in a discussion with those who use that version exclusively.  Catholics see as inspired other books that are not found in the KJV, therefore one should look for a version that includes such texts, such as the New American Bible.

Here are two articles that may help you in finding a Bible version for yourself, if you do not already have one:

Bible Translations Guide

Choosing and Using a Bible

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~ by onecatholic on October 5, 2009.

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