Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Review Culture

As talking in work today I thought back to a series of phrases I heard all to commonly from friends:

"The Bible is irrelevant"
"How can you trust such an old book"
"It's just full of boring old stories, the Bible's no fun at all"
"How can you believe in a book that has so many fatal inaccuracies"

The purpose of this blog is in no way to answer these questions, that takes a small book. The purpose is to question the culture we have of all to quickly making a snap judgement about something we have never read, watched or studied. So many of the people I've heard these criticisms from have never read the Bible in full, if they had they would find little jems like this:

From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.
2 Kings 2:23-24

We live in what I call a 'review culture,' a culture I am very much a part of too. This culture tells us we are very busy and important people, and that we have no free time. It tells us that no-one else works as hard as we do. It also tells us that we don't have the time to sit down and watch a film and see if it is good or bad anymore, we need to read a review first, then that will validate our choice to watch or not. I am very much part of this culture. I will never buy a video game without reading scores of reviews on it to come to a final decision.

In a way reviews are incredibly helpful, they allow us to make decisions, and take into account the viewpoints of others. When buying a video game I find reviews incredibly helpful and allow me to spend my money wisely on games I will enjoy.

My worry is not with review but with what these reviews are on. Take for example a recent book named 'Love Wins,' written by an American pastor named Rob Bell, a book which has stirred more controversy and media publicity than much in recent memory. Many people with in the Christian circles I am a part of made a judgement on the book without ever even getting close to reading it, myself included. Making a judgement based on the reviews of biased people, and never taking time to make a judgement themselves. Only one friend even challenged me on this viewpoint.

This has become especially prevalent with religious books. So many of my friends have written off the Bible on the basis of hear say, on the basis of what they heard others say. Very few have read all the Bible, and the rest have read sporadic chunks. Sweeping judgements based on others opinions may seem initially intelligent, and allow us to form conformed well thought out view points, but these viewpoints aren't ours. How can we make a judgement on a book we haven't read, especially one with the historic significance of the Bible. Christians, how can we make a judgement on a book we haven't read, especially one with the historic significance of the Qur'an.

My final word is to urge you to be your own thinker. If you're my friend, please take some time to read the Bible, as it is something I live life by so don't write it off so quickly. Others, I urge you to think for yourself, and make your own viewpoints, life will be a lot more interesting when it's your view, not that of newspapers, preachers, celebrities, movies or politicians.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Sorry, are you encouraging people to read the Qur'an? We can as Christians make a judgment against it (as with any book) as it distorts the truth of God's word and was written by a man, not God. I haven't read much of it but what I have read denies trinity, Christ as son of God or messiah, salvation by grace+faith (but works instead lol)..and encouraging people to make their own viewpoints? Let's go God's way and follow his Son's perfect example, not our own! (I think I know what you mean but could be read wrongly :P) And as reading history goes, you can do better than the Qur'an.

    Maybe you could quote the bible itself on why it should be read, let God's word do the talking? And with the point of reviewing, i'd question the motives of the review rather than what it's on. Is the post really about culture and reviewing or the bible?

    sorry for the negative crit, completely agree with you on most of it, a bit of criticism is healthy now and again ;)

  2. @Anonymous: I would encourage people to read the Qur'an. I have one myself, and am planning to read all of it eventually. This is to both satiate my own thirst for knowledge and leave me better prepared for discussing my faith with Muslims.

    I'd also like to read the writings of Buddha, Confucius, Plato and other writers who would deny "trinity, Christ as son of God or messiah, salvation by grace+faith," and other such truths. If we limit our readings to those who agree with us, how are we to know what it is we're disagreeing with?