Ten Reasons to Read the Bible, Even if You’re Not Religious
The Bible is by far the most widely and prolifically published book in all of history, making it the most accessible book in the western world.
It’s also arguably one of the most controversial books ever published—like people being burned at the stake, controversial!
That’s why I’m often surprised at how many people have never read this glorious tome of religious literature completely through.
And I’m not talking about just the people who don’t believe it’s true. I’m talking about Christians too.
Wherever you stand on the issue of inspiration and inerrancy, I posit the Bible is well worth your time and effort. So I offer ten reasons you should read it through at least one time, even if you are not religious.
You have probably never read it cover to cover.
Given the obvious, perhaps you’ve never wanted to read it. Or, maybe it’s just something you’ve taken for granted and never got around to. It might be something like the first time my wife visited the Grand Canyon—twenty years after she moved away from it. She literally grew up next door to one of the natural wonders of the world, but never discovered its beauty and majesty until she was an adult with kids of her own. The best time to have started reading the Bible may have been twenty years ago; but the next best time is today.
Everything you read shapes you.
From the cereal box on the table at breakfast to the vulgar scrawlings on the bathroom stall at the gas station, everything you read influences your thinking about things. People often say they can’t remember or don’t understand what they’ve read. This may be true consciously, but studies have shown the mind absorbs a lot more than we may realize. You might as well intentionally feed your mind some inspirational and challenging content.
It is filled with some of the most renowned and inspiring stories of the literary world.
We really have no idea how inspiring the stories of the Bible really are until we read them. The Bible is filled with romance, kings, conquests, beauty, war, goodness, evil villains, comedy, poetry, tragedy, hope, love, despair, murder, treachery, miracles, and otherworldly beings.
Stories like “Moses Parting the Red Sea,” “Jonah and the Whale,” “David and Goliath,” and “Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand” are all classics of the literary world. Why deprive yourself of such beauty and inspiration when it’s so accessible?
No other book in all of history has had more impact on western culture than the Bible.
Many of our quotations, philosophies, and ethics have been derived from the Bible. Yet most don’t even know it. Have you ever heard of the expression “by the skin of my teeth?” It comes from Job 19:20. Did you know the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the constitution) was derived from the biblical principle of individual soul liberty as articulated by the Rhode Island Baptists? How about the expression, “turn the other cheek?” That comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:39).
These are some anemic examples that don’t even scratch the surface, really, but you get the idea. The Bible has impacted painters like Michael Angelo and Vincent Van Gogh, poets like John Donne and William Shakespeare, political activists like William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King, Jr., and musicians like Bach and Beethoven. Now we are starting to scratch the surface a little.
It is filled with practical truths that will make you a better person.
The Bible is filled with principles for gaining and maintaining wealth, avoiding poverty, enriching and sustaining your marriage, raising your children, avoiding troubles caused by vice, gaining and employing wisdom, exacting justice, finding redemption, and just being a better citizen. What’s interesting is how the Bible always seems to speak to the reader’s circumstance in a subtle but profound way. Try it and see.
It offers a high moral standard that although unachievable becomes the basis for redemption.
One of the interesting, and most controversial, aspects of the Bible is its high moral standard. And what’s so significant is not that it offers such a standard—most religious writings do—but the Bible offers a standard that is unattainable. Reading the Bible and contemplating its moral standards offers a unique perspective into our own moral compass and how we deal with our failures. In other words, it really is the ultimate revelation of the human experience ever offered in any genre of literature.
It had a profound effect on our nation’s founders.
Arguments abound as to the actual religious beliefs of many of our nation’s (USA) founding fathers. But one thing is certain, regardless. They all revered and were influenced by the Bible’s message in one way or another. Some were Christians, some were deists, some were agnostics, but their tracts and letters are filled with references to Scripture and the Providence that gave them success. The Bible deserves a good read on that foundation alone.
It had a profound effect on the world’s greatest writers.
I once heard my college professor say something to the effect that literature is not literature unless it, in some way or another, references or interacts with the Bible. I’m not sure if that was his opinion or if he was quoting someone else, but it struck me as profoundly true. Nearly every renowned writer, from Stephen King to Shakespeare, interacts with or conceptualizes biblical themes, characters, or principles in their writing in some fashion or another.
It is the world’s most recognized sacred text.
This is too obvious to expound. While there are other well-known and revered religious texts–the Quran comes to mind–it goes without saying the Bible has been central to most western religions and even some eastern religions. At the very least, being acquainted with this major sacred text—even if you are not a Christian—seems to be a wise enterprise in my mind.
It will make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament book of 2 Timothy, Paul told his young protege that his being acquainted with the sacred writings was the instrument that made him “wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.” In another place, Paul told the church at Rome that faith was produced from hearing the words of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:25-17 cf. Romans 10:17). Who knows what may happen in your life if you gave the text a chance.
Of course there are many other reasons besides these to read the Bible. And many of you may even disagree with my reasons. That’s okay. What are your thoughts on reading this amazing collection of ancient literature?
About Scott Postma
Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He helps people cultivate their capacity to perceive and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful by sharing rich insights into the arts and humanities, meaningful perspective on faith and culture, and valuable tips on writing and teaching. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.