oral majority

Link: Winning the Oral Majority – Christianity Today Magazine.

This is an interesting article about a “new” way to do missions. Rather than emphasize the written Bible, as Evangelicals tend to do, the missionaries will preach, tell stories, poems to reach the illiterate for Christ. This makes a lot of sense considering that most people either cannot read or don’t read very well. Even educated western people have difficulty reading the Bible, because it is so different from the things we normally read. From my Bible reading I note that most of what is written was actually originally spoken by God, Jesus, or the Prophets. Another thing is that the Orthodox and Catholic churches tend to emphasize having the people hear the Word through the Church rather than individual reading as the Evangelicals do. Finally I would note that the Bible discusses hearing the Word and confessing Christ with the mouth more so than reading, and that Jesus went about the countryside preaching and telling stories rather than writing books.

Of course this is not to say that the written Word is not important, but we have tended to neglect orality in favor of literacy.  And of course,  the Evangelicals have preaching and singing, not just reading.  I am a very literate person, but many are not, this article makes some good points.

3 thoughts on “oral majority

  1. Orality hasn’t had much notice among missiologists until just recently. Evidently, in our “left brain” point-by-point conceptualizing of Christ and His message we forgot that the initial mission of the Apostles was done in a largely oral and non-reading society. That is why “Faith comes by HEARING and HEARING by the word of God.”

  2. I think that’s why the Bible uses a more poetic language than a technical manual for example. No one is going to listen to a reading of a tech manual, but listening to the Bible, especially the Psalms is very engaging because the words sink into our emotional brain and engage us more than a dry tech manual would.

  3. For much of the world, information is passed orally and in community. In the West it is passed on in written symbols and individually. That is why one of the effects of modernity is an emphasis on time rather than on event, on earned status rather that conferred status, and on the bifurcation of “public” and “private” … so that we can Westerners can easily live secret “private” lives that are contrary to the Word of God while living a separate (and, different) public life that espouses values different from our private life.

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