The Pitfalls of Scripture Memorization

Well, it’s actually not all that dangerous, but bear with me and my provocative title . . .

It’s generally assumed among many Christians that one must have a “life verse” or at least pocket an index card with some passage of scripture scribbled out for memorization. Committing a chunk of the Bible to a slab of one’s mind can be a very good thing, but we often overlook the dangers that may arise.

First of all, scripture memorization can become a barometer of one’s relationship with God. Can’t discipline yourself to recall that slim block of text? Then you must not be very zealous for God. It sounds silly to say it, but I know it happens far more often than we would like to admit.

Secondly, some people are not wired along the lines of memorization. I confess, I’m like that. I’m much more concept driven. I had to claw and scratch for B’s in my science classes if I was lucky because I couldn’t unravel the facts I rolled into my head.

Third, it is very easy to hack a small verse of scripture out of context and apply it to any situation that comes down the pike. Come on, I know you have that verse posted somewhere about God supplying all of “your” needs from his “glorious riches.”

Having noted a few of the problems we face when memorizing scripture, I’ll step back and say that memorizing the Bible is wonderful. David–as in King David, the Psalmist–was bonkers about it, commanding Solomon to know the Law of the Lord, not to mention his ongoing chorus throughout the Psalms singing the praises of memorizing the Scripture.

Put in its place, scripture memorization has many benefits for Christians. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that this discipline does not a holy Christian make.

I think Christians often beat themselves up over failing at a discipline. While disciplines are important, I think a broad perspective is important.

There are other ways to deposit the Bible into one’s mind other than straight memorization, and I’ll touch on that next.

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