Biblical Illiteracy in America—What Can We Do?

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The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It’s been translated into seemingly countless languages and preserved for generations, often at great personal cost. Most Christian homes in America own several Bibles. But do we read them?

Bible

Here in America—a nation with more churches, Bibles, Christian TV and radio programs, and Christian outreaches than any other nation—biblical illiteracy is a huge problem. People simply don’t read God’s Word so they don’t know what it teaches. Sadly many Christians are easily convinced of errors and half-truths from popular preachers and authors because they don’t know God’s Word well enough to decipher what is true and what is not.

I was recently reading an opinion piece that appeared on the Fox News website asking the question, “Why are so many Christians biblically illiterate?” The author writes that, “Americans no longer know the Bible. The evidence is overpowering that contemporary Christianity is Bible-ish, at best, and at worst, in some cases, Bible-less . . . most are oblivious to the Bible’s basic content, meaning, and message” (emphasis original). He goes on to say that “the challenge of biblical illiteracy in America is not because of a shortage of Bibles, but rather knowledge and appreciation of the Bible’s message.”

Now, we would agree that this is a big problem, but how can parents, pastors, and teachers help put an end to biblical illiteracy in their sphere of influence? Well, here are four things that I believe we need do to help create biblical literacy in our homes and churches:

  1. Read it! This is the most important step that we can take—read God’s Word. Read it by yourself. Read it as a couple. Read it as a family. Read it as a school, a class, or as a congregation. The only way for people to know what God’s Word teaches is by reading it. And don’t forget, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word changes lives!
  2. Connect God’s Word with God’s Word and with the real world. Far too often the accounts in Scripture are treated as isolated events, with no direct correlation to one another. But the Bible is a masterpiece that carefully weaves together the history of peoples from across generations, pointing toward the focus of the Bible—God’s redemptive plan through Jesus Christ. When we connect biblical accounts with one another—across testaments—the Bible becomes a cohesive whole that makes sense. And, of course, this begins with Genesis where the foundation for the rest of Scripture is laid out.
  3. As you teach through the Bible, be sure to connect the history of the Bible with the world around us. Show how fossils and rock layers are the result of the Flood, how different species are the result of animals and plants being created to reproduce according to their kinds, and how archaeological finds confirm what God’s Word teaches. This brings the Bible to life in a meaningful way.
  4. Stop teaching biblical accounts as “stories.” The word story carries with it the connotation of a fairy tale or bedtime story. God’s Word contains real history and we need to teach it like that. We need to make sure young people know that the people, events, and places in the Bible were real.
  5. Learn to answer today’s skeptical questions that cause people to doubt the Bible—raise up generations who know how to defend the Christian faith. Introduce creation and general Bible apologetics into homes and churches.

Our (ABC) is a great resource for combating biblical illiteracy. It teaches God’s Word chronologically, showing how God’s redemptive plan and other themes are woven throughout all of Scripture. It connects the Old Testament with the New Testament and shows how the narratives of both testaments work together to show Jesus Christ. It’s more than just a Sunday school curriculum. You can use it in your home, homeschool, Christian school, or church. It’s synchronized across ages so that mom, dad, and kids can all learn the same material together, just at different levels. And, of course, it’s packed with solid apologetics so you learn what you believe and why you believe it as well as learn to defend God’s Word from skeptical attacks. Learn more or order your own ABC set today.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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