From Bishop Knisely's RISEN Magazine Article:
Recently a study was published that listed the top ten most "un-biblical" cities in the United States. Providence was number one. The study claimed that our region was the least likely place for people to take the Bible seriously, to change the way they live their lives because of biblical teaching, or to simply read the Bible outside of Sunday worship.
While there’s a part of me that wants to argue with the study’s findings, there’s another part of me that recognizes a grain of truth. I don’t think Providence is America’s least "biblically minded" city because there are no people of faith in the area. I think it stems from a discomfort with the way the Bible is often used as a bludgeon in social arguments.
So far in my experience, Rhode Islanders are an extraordinarily tolerant people. When they see intolerance buttressed by biblical proof texts toward their neighbors, what I think happens is that the biblical witness becomes suspect because of the willingness to live and let live that makes life here what it is.
But as admirable as that is for our common life, the Bible is a foundation of our common faith. When we reject the misuse of the Bible in debate, we must be very intentional about not also rejecting the Bible’s rightful role in our lives. And for us to use the Bible rightly in our common life, we must first know what the Bible is, and how powerful a witness to God its words can be.
I think the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island can be a leader in returning the Bible to its rightful central place in our faith. We can do that by committing ourselves to read and study the lessons it has for us, and then by working together to apply those lessons to our personal and common lives. And the step to doing that is to open our bibles and read.
Reading the Bible can be a daunting exercise. The word Bible means library, not book. The Bible isn’t a novel or a text book or even a single coherent story. It is a collection of stories and different forms of literature written over about three thousand years. Parts of the Bible are as different from each other as Beowulf is different from an article in the ProJo (And that’s only a time lapse of 1500 years.) You won’t pick up a Bible and find an easy read from Genesis to Revelations. It’s much better to create a plan of study that will introduce you to the major literature forms, the context in which they were written and how they have been understood differently over the intervening thousands and thousands of years.