The Bible for the church

[Robert Aitken, The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, 1782. Philadelphia—Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress]

1. Recall our lead article’s suggestion (pp. 6–10) to think of your own Bible and the Bibles others use. What kinds of Bibles have you used in church and in personal devotion? Print or electronic? Which translations? How have all of these different experiences of the Bible formed you? How do you most prefer to encounter the Bible?

2. What messages did many American evangelists derive from the Bible (pp. 11–14)? What were some different ways they applied the Bible for their hearers? Where do you hear similar messages today?

3. How was the Bible used in Sunday school in the nineteenth century (pp. 15–17)? How does it compare to the way it is used in Sunday school at your church today?

4. Have you ever done Bible Quizzing or other games for Bible memorization (p. 18)? What was the experience like? What tools or techniques do you usually use to memorize the Bible?

5. How did women Bible teachers in the American church differ from men Bible teachers (pp. 19–21)? How were they similar? What themes did they emphasize, and why? Where do you see the continuation of these different emphases today?

6. What is your favorite hymn or worship song (pp. 24–28)? Where do you see the influence of the Bible on its text? What other hymns and songs can you name that are inspired by biblical texts?

7. The KJV was the most influential Bible translation in America up through the mid-twentieth century. Have you ever used or experienced the KJV in personal prayer or worship (pp. 29–31)? How has your experience of the KJV impacted your perception of Scripture? 

8. What is the role of Bible translation in evangelism (p. 32)? If you can read the Bible in another language besides your “heart language,” how has the experience formed you?

9. Why did many thinkers believe the Bible was under attack (pp. 33–35)? How did they defend it? Where do you see these debates continuing today?

10. Who is your favorite figure from the Gallery (pp. 36–39)? Why?

11. Do you use any of the websites mentioned in our survey of internet Bible sites (p. 40) for study or devotion? How have they aided your understanding of the Bible? 

12. What’s one thing you learned from this issue that surprised you? What’s one thing that confirmed something you already thought?

13. With which of the figures mentioned in this issue do you most identify?

14. If you could ask a historical figure from this issue one question about the Bible, what would it be and whom would you ask?

By the editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #143 in 2022]

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Read more about how the Bible has shaped the American church in these resources recommended by our authors and CH staff.

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Executive editor’s note

With this special fortieth-anniversary issue, we are delighted to honor Ken’s memory and celebrate God’s faithfulness by overviewing the whole scope of Christian history in images.

Bill Curtis and Michelle Curtis

Managing editor’s note

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Jennifer Woodruff Tait


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