Bob Tamasy: The Bible: Cure Or Vaccination?

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

My hometown, Chattanooga, recently was named America’s most “Bible-minded” city, based on a survey conducted by the American Bible Society with The Barna Group, a research organization that tracks spiritual trends across the nation and around the world.

The researchers defined “Bible-minded” people as “respondents who report reading the Bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible.” Having lived here for more than 30 years – and dearly loving this unique community where we raised three daughters – I find this study’s results very interesting. Seems like the good news vs. bad news kind of deal.

Being one who regularly reads the Bible, almost daily, and strongly believes in the accuracy and validity of the Scriptures, this sounds like good news. However, experience has taught me just reading the Bible – and even affirming the accuracy of what it says – doesn’t necessarily or automatically correlate to a changed life.

For instance, if you surveyed thousands of people and asked if they thought drunk driving was a bad idea, everyone would agree. And yet every day people drive drunk. If you inquired about whether people thought spending less than you earn is wise financial management, you wouldn’t find many in disagreement. Yet the vast majority of people live beyond their means, using credit cards and other forms of indebtedness to satisfy both needs and wants.

The same applies when people wholeheartedly affirm their confidence in the Bible. Take the 10 Commandments, for example: How many people would declare we should steal, should kill, should covet our neighbor’s spouse or possessions, should commit adultery, or should lie? Hardly any – but many of us do some of these things just the same.

And it’s the other commandments that trouble us the most – things like not worshipping any gods other than the God of the Bible; taking the name of God in vain, or observing the Sabbath as a true day of rest.

Sadly, the majority of people who profess to be followers of Jesus – including myself at times – treat the Bible as a general guideline, kind of like the out-of-bounds lines on a football field or basketball court. But at times, we think, it’s okay to step out of bounds – for the sake of convenience or expediency.

Other studies have shown so-called “Bible-minded” people might attend worship services more frequently, and they might have a different vocabulary than non-believing friends and neighbors, but in their everyday lives they don’t look much different. We divorce at almost the same rate as non-believers, seem equally seduced by materialism, we perform our work in like manner, and our charitable giving typically doesn’t amount to much more than those who never darken a church’s doors.

As someone has said, many of us are “so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good.”

What’s the solution? First, we need to dispense with our Western way of thinking – the mindset that says we can believe one way, but act quite differently. To truly believe is to act accordingly.

Second, we need to heed James 1:22-25, which admonishes, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”

My intent is not to sound judgmental, because apart from the power of Jesus Christ we’re all imperfect and flawed, certain to betray our convictions from time to time. But as the apostle James wrote, it’s not enough to read the Bible and listen to it being taught from a pulpit. We need to do what it says.

Otherwise, instead of serving as the cure for ungodly thinking and behavior, it becomes merely a vaccination – giving us just enough so that we don’t catch, and exhibit, the real thing.


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs,, and He can be emailed at

Bob Tamasy: What Are You Thankful For?

This year Thursday, Nov. 26 is designated for our annual celebration of Thanksgiving Day, a festive time for gathering with family and friends, consuming huge amounts of food, perhaps watching a parade or two, as well as a couple of football games, and oh yeah, by the way, giving thanks to God for our blessings. It’s a great tradition – that is, unless you’re a turkey, in which ... (click for more)

Churches Provide Thanksgiving Dinners For Metropolitan Ministries' Clients

Once again this year, three local churches have provided Thanksgiving dinners for Metropolitan Ministries’ clients who could otherwise not afford the traditional Thanksgiving Feast. St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and St. Thaddaeus’ Episcopal Church have provided Thanksgiving dinners for 24 families, and Grace Episcopal Church provided hundreds of dollars worth of Food City gift cards ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Under Flood Watch Through Wednesday

With a steady rain set to continue through Wednesday, Chattanooga is under a flood watch. Over four inches of rain are expected in some areas. Here is the advisory from the National Weather Service: ...LOCALIZED FLOODING POSSIBLE ACROSS EAST TENNESSEE AND SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING... .THE COMBINATION OF DEEP SUBTROPICAL MOISTURE AND A SLOW MOVING FRONTAL ... (click for more)

Woman In Critical Condition After Being Shot In The Face Saturday Night Near O'Rear Street

A woman is in critical condition after she was shot while driving in Chattanooga on Saturday night. Just after  9 p.m. , the Chattanooga Police Department responded to reports of a person shot. Once on the scene, police located a female victim near the 2500 block of O'Rear Street suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound to the face. The victim was driving a ... (click for more)

Misconceptions About Ban The Box

Mr. Exum,  I want to invite you as a guest speaker at the NAACP General Membership meeting.  I believe we can accomplish our goals and clear up any misconceptions about Ban The Box and the role of the NAACP in a much more meaningful manner face to face.   In that vein I would like to invite you to have coffee with me at Panera Bread.  I will not make a ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Great Thanksgiving

In order for you to best understand this, last Thursday was the first Thanksgiving I have ever spent alone.  Don’t misunderstand, I had a fistful of kind invitations but I am the only remaining member of my immediate family around here and I guess I started dwelling on that a little too much as the holiday neared. Making out my “thankful” list helped, and I ate enough with ... (click for more)