Over the last few weeks I’ve had some interesting conversations with fellow believers. At least, I thought they were fellow believers…until we had these conversations. I have among my many friends two women who grew up in different states, coming from different backgrounds, one black, one white, both Baptist. The black friend has never shown any animosity toward me for my being Catholic. I can’t say the same for my white friend, who takes a sort of fiendish pleasure at making as many digs at me as she can about the Church every time we meet.
You may remember, if you’ve read the about me page, I grew up as a Methodist and I’ve looked into other Protestant denominations and their teachings. And I could have sworn that all Protestants (and perhaps especially Baptists) thought very highly of the Holy Scriptures. They may disagree with Catholics over just which books to include in the Bible, but they generally, I thought, hold the books they do accept in high esteem. But both of these women said this to me, one as recently as yesterday:
The Bible is just a book written by men and written a long time ago at that.
I’m pretty sure my reaction to this revelation about Revelation was the same in both instances: eyebrows raised in surprise. But I’m also pretty sure that my eyebrows shot even higher when my friend who repeated this statement was not content to re-state it but made this startling addition:
The Bible is just a book based on dreams.
Based on dreams? Really? I thought for a moment she had changed the subject and we were now discussing Freud or Jung and psychological theory, but, no, she was still talking about Holy Writ. And she was saying something I don’t remember anyone else ever saying to me. That’s quite an accomplishment, since so many people say many things to me about a great many things, especially religion and, even more so, the Bible.
Where my friend got this notion, I do not know. Is this something she’s heard from her pastor recently? Is this something she heard from him a long time ago? Did she misunderstand what he might have said about dreams and visions and prophets? Is this something she learned in school or maybe her children learned in school and shared with her? Is this something that is actually being taught in the classroom or from the pulpit anywhere? If so, it only serves to deepen my feeling that what we need now is what the late Pope John Paul II called for all those years ago: a new evangelization of the unevangelized. And a re-evangelization of the poorly evangelized.
What we need are teachers who know what they are teaching and how to teach it. And will teach it. Now!