with Biblical Illiteracy
By Paula Marolewski
I doubt that anyone will disagree with
me when I state that our society today in America is biblically
illiterate. Specifically, I would define “biblically illiterate” as
with the structure of the Bible. Most people could not explain
why the Bible is split between Old and New Testaments. They cannot
name the books of the Bible. That the books are grouped into certain
categories is unknown to them. And, sadly, many people cannot even
locate a verse of Scripture.
- Unfamiliar with the content of the
Bible. Noah and Moses
and Jesus are favorite stories, but are known only in the terms
and generalities of childhood tales. The Psalms are at best pleasant
poetry. The sermons of Jesus draw a blank. The Pauline and General
Epistles are much too difficult to read and really aren’t
practical. The books of the Prophets are totally useless.
with the purpose of the Bible. The Bible is certainly not science,
and even its history is suspect. At most it’s a moral code,
but even then, the vast majority of people haven’t read
it to know what moral code it contains – they
quote the Golden Rule and think that’s all Jesus ever said.
- Unfamiliar with the theology of the
Bible. Words such
as sin, salvation, sanctification, grace, justification, and
redemption are archaisms completely out-of-touch with modern-day America.
The concept that there are doctrines of God, man, Christ, and
the Trinity is unheard of.
- Unfamiliar with the truth of the Bible. In a world of
moral relativism and moral decay, the statement that there is
absolute truth, revealed by the one True God, would be considered ridiculous,
narrow-minded, and old-fashioned.
It is one thing, however, to state that our society is biblically
illiterate. That is almost to be expected; after all, that is the “world” that
we are in, but not of.
What would you say, though, if I were to assert that the Church
in America is also biblically illiterate? And by “the Church” I
mean the true Church: the children of God, saved and redeemed by
the blood; not everyone who happens to inhabit a pew on a given
Look back on our definition of “biblically illiterate.” Unfamiliar
with the structure of the Bible. Can most Christians talk knowledgeably
about the reason for the Old and New Testaments? Find their way
quickly around to locate a given text? Talk about the various types
of books found in the Testaments?
Unfamiliar with the content of the Bible. More is known about
content, undoubtedly, than in society at large, but ask yourself:
How many Christians can quote or locate verses that they need without
hesitation? Or paraphrase passages or verses of Scripture – even
well known ones such as the Beatitudes or I Corinthians 13? If
asked what would define the Christian walk, could they provide
a clear answer? Are people comfortable defending their faith? Proving
a point from Scripture? Leading someone to Christ with nothing
more than a Bible in hand?
Unfamiliar with the purpose of the Bible. The Church does fairly
well here, recognizing and affirming that the purpose of the Bible
is to tell the story of man’s sin and God’s plan of
salvation and how to live a holy life, but still – do we
really live it? Do our lives show the world the importance of the
Unfamiliar with the theology of the Bible. We do all right with
short words like sin and grace, but longer terms such as sanctification
and justification still get glazed looks from many Christians.
Certainly, the words seem to be detached from everyday life. We
are content to admit that doctrine is important, but we relegate
it to pastors and seminary students.
Unfamiliar with the truth of the Bible. As Christians, we affirm
that the Bible is the true and absolute standard of living, the
only plan of salvation, and the answer to every question voiced
by humankind. But if we don’t know what it says, if we don’t
understand the doctrines, and if we can’t tell people about
it – then can we really say that that is what we believe?
In any battle, it is important to understand what we are fighting
against. Christian education in all its forms – Sunday school,
Bible studies, discipleship relationships, sermons, books, radio,
etc. – is struggling against biblical illiteracy: in the
church as well as in the world. Let’s take the time to study
our opponent so we can advance God’s kingdom and win this
© 2008 Paula Marolewski
Article Source: http://www.sinkyourroots.com
About the Author:
Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive adult Bible
studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups, and adult Sunday School
classes at Sink Your Roots. Studies
include such topics as Debunking
the Myths about Knowing God's Will. The above article is an excerpt from Called