People like quotes. Short little sayings that quickly convey an idea. We like to be able to refer to something Tolstoy said without actually having to read Tolstoy’s works!
In the business world, the idea of the “elevator speech” is popular, where you can explain some project in 30 seconds or less.
We like our religion the same way. We like short take-away expressions, like “Love your neighbor as yourself” or “I can do all things through Christ.” It’s easier to deal with the Bible at that level than to actually have to work through concepts like genre, context, linguistics, etc.
In my opinion, it’s why many people like the book of James. “It’s so practical,” they say. What they mean is that they can read a verse and seek to apply it, without working through the things I mentioned above. (That leads to lots of mistakes, of course, but it is definitely quick and easy)
Piety isn’t always pithy. Biblical concepts can’t always be explained in 30-seconds or less. Not every principle can be explained during an elevator ride. Not every problem can be solved by throwing a proof text at it.
Some things are as quick and easy as they seem. When Jesus tells us what the two greatest commandments are, that’s fairly straightforward… even though it would take us a lifetime to work out all the implications. But many other concepts only get distorted when reduced to a verse or two out of context.
We have to be willing to take the time to work at understanding the Bible. Yes, it does make it harder to explain to outsiders and beginners. That doesn’t change the facts of the matter. Quoting “I think, therefore I am” doesn’t explain Descartes. It doesn’t even describe the existential crisis and healing process around that phrase. The same happens with the Bible.
If it weren’t that way, God would have given us a religious quote book and left it at that.
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