When was the last time your teenager picked up the Bible and read it? Well, it might have been this week if your teen is part of the 25% of American teens identified in new research that read the Bible at least once a week (and 53% wish they read it more often). This research also found that a massive 86% of teens view the Bible as sacred literature—an encouraging statistic!
So teens are interested in the Bible and view it as sacred literature, but why do so many not follow what it says? Well, our research, conducted with America’s Research Group and published in my coauthored book Ready to Return, revealed that 95% of those in their 20s and 40s who attend church regularly answered “yes” to the question, “Do you believe all the books of the Bible are inspired by God?” But when this same group was asked if other holy books are also inspired by God, a surprising 22% said “yes” and 10% “didn’t know”—so for 32% of those in our churches, God’s Word includes not just the Bible, but other books as well! Furthermore, 21% don’t think the Bible is historically accurate, and 26% think that the Bible contains errors. Now, this research was conducted with those in their 20s and 40s, but more than likely it would be similar—or worse—among our teens.
They may have general respect for the Bible, but that doesn’t mean they believe it to be authoritative or inerrant.
What this research shows is that those in our churches don’t understand the biblical doctrines of inerrancy or inspiration. They may have general respect for the Bible, but that doesn’t mean they believe it to be authoritative or inerrant. And if it’s not authoritative or inerrant, who then decides truth? Who decides which parts of God’s Word are accurate or have authority over our lives? Man does! This explains why many teens may respect the Bible, but so few do what it says. They’ve adopted our culture’s view that man determines truth.
The same research we commissioned from America’s Research Group also showed that 40% of young people in our churches agree with homosexual behavior and another 10% don’t know if it’s a sin—that means 50% wouldn’t speak out against gay “marriage” or homosexual behavior. And 65% say that if you’re a good person you will go to heaven. These results show that they really do not understand that the Bible is the absolute authority of the Word of God—and they reveal that young people have been influenced by the culture to make the Bible say whatever they want it to say.
Parents, pastors, and other church leaders: take note! Young people are interested in the Bible. But they need to be taught a proper view of the Bible and be equipped to defend the truth and authority of the Scriptures. They need to understand that we cannot put ourselves as authorities over the Bible but need to allow the Bible to be the authority over us. Don’t just read the Bible—do what it says as you allow the Holy Spirit to shape and mold you. As the Apostle James put it,
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22–25).
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.