Fundy Love Day 4: Scripture Memory

This week is turning into a much tougher slog than I had imagined. But onward we go…

Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee…and as a bonus I also got this cool frisbee from the AWANA store!

Scripture memorization is a key part of a young fundamentalist’s education. Whether it’s in a formal classroom setting, as part of a Sunday School program, or at the dinner table, young fundamentalists are trained to regurgitate everything from short Proverbs to entire passages. That’s good.

Even as a child grows up and leaves fundamentalism he still carries with him this treasure of knowledge. The ability to turn ones thoughts to a particular verse or passage and have it instantly within reach with all its wisdom and 1611 thunder is a grand thing to be sure. Certainly, the explanation of the passages may not always have been quite right and some great passages (predestination, anyone?) never made it into a memory verse list. Nonetheless, the emphasis on having the Scriptures as a constant companion in your heart and mind is an aid and a comfort even while the former fundy learns to appreciate them with a newly opened and enlightened understanding.

Fundamentalists do take knowing the Scriptures seriously even if genuinely interpreting them and applying them don’t always exactly follow. I can only hope that the Spirit illumines more and more of them to a truer understanding of the words they already hold in their minds.

25 thoughts on “Fundy Love Day 4: Scripture Memory”

  1. “young fundamentalists are trained to regurgitate everything from short Proverbs to entire passages”

    “I can only hope that the Spirit illumines more and more of them to a truer understanding of the words they already hold in their minds.”

    I think that those two quotes from the above article sums it up perfectly. I memorized Bible verses in my IFB church and AWANA clubs that I attended, and could blurt them out at any point, but there was never any explanation as to WHAT IT MEANT. I am very thankful (and grateful) that I have had the opportunity to learn what those verses mean (and mostly from non-fundy sources).

  2. AWANA was great! I was in AWANA from Sparkies through JVs, and the materials used did attempt to convey some of the meaning behind the texts being learned. With that said, though I went to AWANA in a fundy church, the AWANA organization didn’t seem to be that fundy-minded, mainly because they offered non-KJV-based materials. This has made them persona non grata in some IFB churches, which is a shame because the AWANA books might have the best scripture explanations that some of those kids will ever hear.

  3. Ok Darrell I just wanted to give you a thumbs up on this one. I feel like I’ve been negative on your last two, but this truly is a strength of Fundy land. I even appreciate the strict standard of absolute rote…you can’t change a single word. I mean it annoyed me in AWANA when I was just trying to get to the next passage, but in the end I’m the better for it. And actually do remember most of those verses I memorized in AWANA (for all of AWANA’s faults that wasn’t one).

    There is one thing that sort of disturbs me. It has to do with how verse memorization is usually done. Because of the difficulty it can be memorizing larger cohesive passages AWANA and many other systems tend to do bite size if not verse size memory passages. Oh to be sure it is still great to even learn only 1 verse, but it makes it mighty easy for a pastor to later quote said verse out of context and the church member nod in agreement because, “Well that is how I remember it.” When I was in high school my Bible teacher had us memorize entire chapters, at most, and cohesive thoughts within chapters, at lest. If there is something I’d change about the Fundy memorization it would be the general trend towards single verse memory. Memorizing a single verse leads to designer interpretation, if not by you, than by the preacher who quotes a passage you memorized, but memorized with no context.

  4. My mom shares your sentiment, Mark. As part of our schooling we would memorize the better part of book at a time. I can still quote most of II Timothy and Philippians from memory.

  5. Mark’s observation about context is what came to my mind about this post.
    Fundies who memorize the text pridefully use it to beat on others verbally. I did this and it is encouraged by pastors and by my parents.
    I memorized about 400 KJV verses in my youth. I found it beneficial, but it did not keep me from sin. Only God keeps people from sin. The Bible teaches us what is sin. ref. Romans. It did not help me see the issues with fundlyland but rather reinforced them because the selected verses are chosen to support fundyland.
    When I switched to the NIV in 1981, I had all this KJV in my head. I basically had to throw it out and carefully read the NIV text.
    I and my family listen to the NIV going to bed at night, we have been doing this for 17 years now and have listened to the NIV about 140 times. I consider it more beneficial than memorization because it is in context and ideas stand out instead of a selected text. I attribute my leaving fundyland to the Bible listening over the years, and the prayers of those who left before me.

    I’m finding it hard to think of good things about fundyland this week. Fundyland is warped and looking at it from a different perspective does not change anything. Loving fatherA may beat his child. The fact that fatherA beat his child gives evidence that fatherA may not be a loving father. Some will view fatherA as a loving father who beat his child. Others will view fatherA as a child abuser who does not know what love is. The different perspectives does not change a thing. The child was loved by fatherA. The child was beaten by fatherA. The perspective only determines the nature of the interface between the us and fatherA.

  6. true that! I like this week of fundy love–I’m so thankful to not be a fundy, I’ve rejected fundamentalism wholeheartedly (I now go to an Orthodox church), but I’m not full of hate towards it, and I’m glad you’re pointing out some of the more positive aspects of fundyland

  7. I memorized about 350 verses in my confirmation classes and in my church’s school. All in KJV, of course.
    I am very grateful for that and can bring up phrases or words to this day that I memorized so long ago.
    Yes, it was selective. But now that I am grown up, I can appreaciate the lack of context of the verses that we memorized… and the fact that the explanation for those verses were also taken out of context. But it’s all ok! It just made me study more.

    Thank you fundies for Scripture memorization. May it sink into your hearts as well as your minds.

  8. My experience with Awana – “Thy prooftext have I crammed in my head so that I can win the most candy.”

  9. @Sara: Me too! (Antiochian) 🙂

    @ the OP:

    It’s interesting; I was at the Feast of the Ascension last night, and one of my aquaintances asked me what I was before I became Orthodox. I said, “Baptist.” He replied, “I could tell it was something like that.” Someone else asked, “How?” He said, “Because he quotes the Bible like it’s natural.” 🙂 And, to be honest with you, that’s one of the best compliments I’ve ever received, although the glory is properly God’s.

    “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures…”

    Great post, Darrell!

  10. I did Awana and Bible Quizzing when I was a kid. I got a lot out of the Bible Quizzing because we learned whole chapters.

    Unfortuanately for fundyland, this is one of the things that eventually caused me to leave as I began to understand the great texts of Romans and Corinthians.

    I am very thankful that when anyone has a question for me today, a verse/erses generally comes to mind to help my response.

  11. King’s Kids… the KJV AWANA knock off. My home church uses that. They spend 30 minutes to get kids cramming in verses while a Bible lesson/application is allowed only 15 minutes! Not only verses but propaganda promoting KJV. In the memory material! And this church isn’t KJVO, they just use King’s Kids memory material. When helping kids learn, I wouldn’t let them get points for memeory until they could prove they understood the verse. Not sure all the other adult helpers were doing the same. What really leaves me scratching my head is teaching the books of the Bible to toddlers. They can’t even say Baptist, let alone Deuteronomy.

  12. Bible memorization is “grammar”. Subjects have their grammar. We memorize the alphabet and phonics rules to help us read, we memorize multiplication tables and formulas to help us do math, These all lay a foundation for future learning.

    BTW, many non-fundy, reformed churches have their children memorizing the shorter catechism for the same reason.

    As an unsaved child (way pre AWANA), my Sunday school teacher had me memorize tons of scripture, the books of the Bible, the 12 disciples, the 12 tribes of Israel, Palestinian geography…..and today I’m grateful.

  13. I can still quote chunks of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, the Luke Nativity story (just like Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas), the 1st 14 verses of the Gospel of John, and some of the Psalms. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

  14. The small ACE school I attended in 4th-5th grade had the whole school memorize Phillipians. We younger kids would memorize part of a chapter, but the older kids learned the whole thing! Also I can still recite Ps. 19 which my FIRST grade teacher had us learn! Awesome and powerful even with the “firmament” and “sheweth.” A couple years ago, when our church still had AWANA, I took the AWANA challenge for the adults in the church and memorized all of Isaiah 53. It was a good discipline for me.

    My kids don’t memorize easily, and I fear that I’m not pushing them as hard as I should. I so much don’t want them to just have head knowledge or pride and self-righteousness, that I maybe have been too easy on requiring Bible memory of them.

  15. @Steve
    I know exactly what you mean! I don’t think I could stop Bible coming out of my mouth if I tried 🙂

  16. A truly GREAT tradition. Even if it is often selective texts carved with an agenda. Bravo fundy bible verse/passage memorization.

  17. True RJW, my church stopped doing AWANA because it was too liberal and started their own youth club which totally ripped off AWANA’s format.

  18. It was because of all the verses I’d memorized in AWANA, Sunday School, Junior Church, Wednesday night prayer meetings, Christian School Bible Class, and family devotions that, when I encountered the Book of Common Prayer, I immediately realized that it was saturated with Scripture. It took me a while to get used to Episcopalians and other Anglicans, but reading the Prayer Book was like coming home.

    1. What I love about this post is it’s proclamation that the Word really never CAN return empty and useless, and that the Lord takes a situation and gives us the good from it. :mrgreen:

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