How did I become a Bible Christian*?
What factors in my life guided me?
Well, to begin with, I was blessed with a strong Christian mother …
So often when little kids ask, “Why do I have to?” you hear their moms reply: “Because I said so!” — but not my mom. She really took my questions seriously and treated me with respect.
She would not only instruct me, she also explained the reasoning behind it. She showed how her directions and discipline were actually for my benefit: my safety, my health, my character. She would counsel me on consequences (and let me experience a lot of them), so I would learn to make good decisions myself, when she wasn’t around.
This kind of upbringing created in my heart a fertile soil, prepared for the seeds of true faith and the instruction / discipline of a loving God.
As a little kid, I had lots of Bible story books. We would read them together and discuss the lessons to be learned.
We visited a wide variety of churches as my mom explored her Christianity: Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, Primitive Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Christian, Church of Christ, Church of God, Holiness, Tabernacle of God, and even the Quaker Friends!
One month short of my eleventh birthday, my mom married my step-dad. We attended a “Non-Denominational” Church up to three times per week and sometimes visited his parents’ Pentecostal Church.
On weekday mornings we would read from the King James Version of the Bible — one chapter each from the New and Old Testaments. It took us three years to get through the Old Testament, during which we read the New Testament three times.
At first I was timid when reading aloud but this experience increased my confidence ( I love to read aloud now). Reading the Bible aloud also broadened my vocabulary, helped me focus on the text, and aided my comprehension (if a sentence was awkward, I’d repeat it with the proper emphasis). But most significantly, reading the Bible together provided a firm foundation of Biblical Christian teaching.
Later, as I became a teenager and young adult, I began to visit my friends’ churches: Four Square and Episcopal. I even joined the Episcopal Youth Club.
Lots of Churches
In going to all these different churches, I enjoyed the diversity of worship styles, sermons, public prayers, and fellowship.
The one constant among them all was a sincere respect for the Bible:
- The Word of God
- The Authority for All Things, Sacred and Secular
- The User Manual for the Human Life
While my early Bibles were all King James Versions, in high school a friend gave me my first modern-language version: The Living Bible. It was easier to understand so I began reading it, highlighting it, and it ended up looking more like a workbook than some dusty sacred tome.
Eventually I discovered the New International Version of the Bible (1984). It was an all-new translation from the oldest existing manuscripts, unlike the Living Bible’s paraphrase of the King James. Still easy to read, the NIV was more precise in its translation and wording. I started out with the NIV84 Student Bible (which is still my favorite reading Bible) and later added the NIV84 Study Bible when I began to do more intensive research.
Over the years I’ve acquired several other versions: Amplified, New King James Version, New American Standard, New Revised Standard, and Holman Christian Standard. I’ve currently got my eye on the Apostolic Bible Polyglot, an all-new interlinear translation of the New Testament and the Septuagint — the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was used by the original Apostles and early churches.
So, What Do I Mean by Bible Christian*?
- I may join a local church — but I don’t consider myself a member of that denomination.
- I may belong to an institution made up of fallible people — but my only authority is the Bible.
- I may consult a variety of resources — but my true guide to interpretation is the Holy Spirit.
So I guess I’m just a generic Christian
… in my lingo, a Bible Christian*
* (assuming nobody’s made that term into its own denomination)