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Bible Reading Resource

Here’s a great article for you from the February issue of the Christian Standard called Deep Impact, The Cultural Challenge of Biblical Illiteracy by James Riley Estep Jr.

You’ll find it in almost every hotel room, usually in the top drawer next to the bed. While most studies indicate a majority of Americans hold the Bible in high regard, those same studies indicate Americans are increasingly ignorant of what’s in the Bible. A lack of biblical literacy is a challenge for the American culture and also the American church. It poses a crucial test for the Christian community’s identity, distinctives, and ministry in the 21st century.

Increasing Unfamiliarity with the Bible

George Gallup and Jim Castelli have concluded, “Americans revere the Bible but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”1

The Barna Group has made some disturbing revelations about our nation’s grasp of Bible content and Americans’ changing perception of the Bible:2

• 60 percent of Americans cannot name even five of the Ten Commandments.

• 82 percent of Americans believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.

• 12 percent of adults believe Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.

• More than 50 percent of graduating high school seniors thought Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.

• A large number of respondents to one survey indicated the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.

• Four out of 10 people believe the same spiritual truths are simply expressed differently in the Bible, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon.

George Barna observes that older non-Christians today are more biblically literate than most younger non-Christians, and even believers.3 In generations past, even non-Christians had a more significant knowledge of the Bible than their younger counterparts do today. And, the problem of biblical illiteracy is even more pronounced within minority groups,4 which exacerbates the church’s efforts to reach them.

As Gallup and Castelli concluded, Americans are interested in the Bible, but they just don’t know what’s in it. This helps explain the popularity of such books as The Bible for Dummies (Wiley, 2002), and the frequent use of the wordidiot that occurs in titles about the Bible.

Biblical illiteracy takes many forms. Biblical illiteracy can mean ignorance of content or misattributing the content of Scripture, but both lead to an error in perception of the Bible itself.

When familiarity with the Bible is minimal, our culture fails to properly assess the impact Christianity has had, fails to recognize the significant intellectual contribution Christianity has made, and relegates Christian faith as ancillary to our culture.

Finish reading the rest of the article at: