Questions for reflection: The Bible in America

[First Committee Great Seal, Reverse. Design by Benjamin Franklin, 1776. From Symbols of the Great Seal, 1856. Benson John Lossing / [Public domain] Wikimedia]

These questions are meant to help you think more deeply about this issue and apply it to your own life and setting. Ponder them on your own, or discuss them in Sunday school or a study group.

1. How do you personally use the Bible? Where and how do you read it? 

2. A stranger asks you, “What is the Bible?” Write your answer here:

3. What is your favorite Bible verse or verses? Do you tend to apply this passage more to your personal life, to national / world / social /political events, or both?

4. How have you encountered the Bible being used in contexts outside of church (classroom, political speeches, etc.)?

5. (pp. 6–10) What does the phrase “city on a hill” mean to you? This phrase was not popular until the 1950s. Does this change how you view it?

6. (pp. 12–15) What are some different ways the Bible was used and talked about in the colonies and in the early republic? How do they correspond to ways you see the Bible used in your context today in church, school, and civic life?

7. (pp. 16–18) Put into your own words the differing arguments used about the Bible during the Civil War. Do you see any similar arguments being used today? If so, where?

8. (pp. 19–21) Did any of the reforms mentioned in this issue surprise you by their connection to the Bible? How have you seen the Bible used for reform? Which reforms are you most passionate about in our cultural and civic life, and how do they connect to the Bible?

9. (pp. 24–28) How would you describe the differences between the ways White Christians and Black Christians in America have talked about, preached about, sung about, and written about the Bible? With which of these ways do you identify?

10. (pp. 29–31) Have you participated in any interdenominational or parachurch activities or organizations centered on the Bible? What did you learn from the experience?

11. (pp. 32–34, 35) Consider the ways the Bible has been presented in pop culture. What songs, movies, books, and art with biblical references or themes have impacted you the most? Why? Have you ever incorporated a biblical concept into a personal creation such as a song, video, or story?

12. What’s one thing you learned from this issue that surprised you? What’s one thing that confirmed something you already thought?

13. With which of the figures mentioned in this issue do you most identify?

14. If you could ask a historical figure from this issue one question about the Bible, what would it be?

By the editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #138 in 2021]

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