Friday, 19 September 2014

Bible Signing

Signing some Bibles for the National Church Growth Conference! Great men of God!
I was first requested to sign someone's Bible somewhere around late 1983 while a newly enrolled Bible student. A wee lad asked me to sign his Bible while I was shaking hands with the worshippers leaving the Lord's morning meeting. I duly signed my name. Noticing that others who had signed their name also added a Bible verse, I wrote Psalm 37:37 under my signature. This was the text I had just attempted to preach upon that morning. Up to then, I had never seen or even heard of people signing Bibles and so I was somewhat surprised to be asked. Since then, if I have signed my name on a Bible flyleaf about half a dozen times, then that is about the height of it. And no one has asked me in about the last five years. 

Ever learning, it was only when I came to Twitter that I discovered that some take great offence at this practice. And I mean great offence. The argument runs that only the author should sign the book. In which case, that unless you can persuade the Almighty, or somehow get hold of Moses and the prophets etc., then it ain't going to happen.

Any time I have signed someone's Bible, it has never once crossed my mind that this could be seen as hijacking God's word. Rather, I saw it as me endorsing its contents. Much the same way as Paul referred to the gospel of the grace of God as "my gospel" on three different occasions. No one thinks that Paul had concocted these doctrines in his own head and was now committing them to print. I certainly would not sign my name on the Koran or the Book of Mormon in that fashion. 

If asked to sign another Bible (especially if by a five year old) I would oblige the asker. The last thing I want is a bewildered child who has just started primary school in tears after a morning service! But if no one asks, I would not be miffed in the least. I am truly indifferent. 

That said, only a certain brand of American Fundamentalism could take the whole thing to a new level. Why wait to be asked? Why merely indulge the cute hobby of five to nine year old children (No one over that age has ever asked me to sign) when you can ratchet this matter up and use it to promote your own standing in the preaching circuit? Especially when you can advertise it in the promotion stuff?  Why not take the initiative and give everyone who comes along and pays their entrance fee a signed Bible with your name on it without them even asking?  And so you get the photograph above.

This photograph makes a statement, especially when it makes it on to Twitter, contains the names of the Bible signers, proclaims them as "Great men of God" and one of them actually RT's it. It appears that the signer in these circumstances anticipates being asked, expects to be asked and indeed makes provision in that dread scenario of not being asked at all. If you pay your money to come, then you get a Bible autographed by those who are effectively proclaiming their own greatness. Of course, you could always refuse the Bible or return it, but you have paid your money for it and why should you? 

So, IMO, wait until you are asked to sign a child's Bible. Only do it because you are asked. But don't do it as part of a self promotion strategy because your notions extend to the belief that you are a giant within Fundamentalism. You are there to serve the Bible. Having the Bible serve you makes your signature worthless. 

Just a few thoughts...

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