In a sermon our Pastor talked about “primary sources” and I immediately related because I had just finished teaching that concept to my classes of Grade Six students in regards to their research projects on Ancient Athens. I had asked my students to research one of the Greek Philosophers and to use “primary sources” to ensure their information was trustworthy.
“In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source (also called original source or evidence) is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study.” (Webster’s definition)
Of course, my students, as is the norm nowadays, did not turn to books or encyclopedias but immediately “Googled” the philosopher and learned as much as they could about the man from what they found about him on the world-wide web. I then had to teach them how to cite websites and of course add another lesson on how they should decide whether a website is indeed a reliable source of information or not.
We live in the “Age of Information” as I like to call it, where we just go onto the Web and find answers to our questions, and even find answers to questions we never really asked. The idea of combing through resource books to find information is, for my students, almost unheard of. As I have said, time and time again, I am old school. There is nothing more comforting in my hands than a real page-to-turn book. Sure, I have a Kindle that has an unlimited library of books downloaded onto it, but I still prefer the “real thing” in my hand. The sound of pages turning, the smell of leather binding in some books, or book spines cracking as I read them. I remember MY researching papers with no access to the Web, hours and hours in the local library, skimming through resource books and taking meticulous notes on recipe cards ensuring that every quote was properly cited in a bibliography at the end of a paper. My grade sixes do not fathom that amount of work now. It’s a click of the mouse and they have all the information they need.
Or do they?
My Pastor asked us what our primary source is when we have questions about life or God? Of course the Sunday School answer is The Bible, but is it REALLY our primary source? As our Pastor pointed out, we would have a difficult time finding an older document or book that has been proven over and over again to be as reliable, infallible and trustworthy. Some scholars have tried to dispute its teachings for centuries and have always come up short. It is quoted more often than any other book in the world. Countries are founded on its principles and teachings. We KNOW as Christians there is power in the Word but do we use it in every circumstance to find questions, or find encouragement, or find hope, or to draw closer to God? I have to admit, that I have been guilty of using the internet far more often than the Bible at times to find answers, encouragement, even to draw closer to God. This past week I have spent more time “liking” encouraging quotes, even Scripture quotes on Facebook, than actually reading the quotes from the source —The Bible!
Lately, I’ve been amazed at the amount of “hits” some of my blog postings here on Journey Thoughts are getting daily that just quote Scripture. Since posting Encouraging Verses for Those Facing Struggle in January 2014, that post alone has close to 10,000 hits on it DAILY! People are desperately searching for encouragement to get through hard times. Certainly, I am pleased people are encouraged by the postings, but please, please don’t substitute reading MY blog for going to the REAL source of encouragement…THE Bible.
I know the Internet is a wonderful tool to start the initial search, but always remember The Primary Source for the answers to life’s questions, for encouragement, hope and drawing closer to God is THE BIBLE. It’s all you really need!
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4: 12-13)