.... is pastors who say (sometimes in the middle of sermons) "You know, I'm not much of a Bible scholar."
My short, sassy comeback (at least in my head) is, "If not you, who?"
Is there any other profession in which people who often have 4 years of college AND graduate degrees can get away with claiming such lack of knowledge? What could possibly be the point of it? How would you like it if you had a teacher who confessed a rather spotty command of her subject? Or just before you were going in for an operation, your doctor confessed, "You know, I'm not really much of a surgeon"?
That being said, I will confess to being far more familiar with some portions of the Bible than others. For example, I'm much better prepared right now to give a lecture on one of the four gospels than, say, 1st and 2nd Chronicles. But when people call me up and ask me where something is in the Bible, or what it means, I expect I ought to know.
Exception: In the Psalms, I do not know what the word Selah means. Actually, nobody really knows what the word Selah means, for sure.
I think I know where "I'm not much of a Bible scholar" comes from, but I'm not sure. I suspect that we don't want to seem too intellectual; we don't want to separate ourselves too much from our people or seem intimidating. And we don't want to give people the impression: "I understand the Bible and you don't."
I absolutely agree. We don't want to give the impression that only clergy are equipped to read the Bible. And one of our jobs (one of our callings, I think) is to help equip people to read and interpret the Bible. It's right up there with leading worship in a way that is both reverent and celebratory.
If we aren't, in some sense, "Bible scholars", or "Bible experts," of some kind, how can we equip people to read it themselves?
When I go to the bookstore (and not just the Christian ones, either), I do see a lot of Bibles. I also see a LOT of books in the "religion and spirituality" section. My suspicion is that almost everyone HAS a Bible or Bibles, but that many people read the Bible just a little, and other books about religion a lot more.
In other words, I suspect that a lot of people don't feel equipped, or empowered, to read the Bible.
Any other insights, comments, disagreements, or even other totally different pet peeves are welcome.
Clarification: "The liturgical instruction Selah in the Book of Psalms is described by the Jewish Publication Society Version of the Tanakh as 'a liturgical direction of uncertain meaning,'" from Whose Bible Is it?, by Jaroslav Pelikan, p 230)