Biblical illiteracy has become an epidemic across America. People, sadly including many professing Christians, simply don’t know what the Bible teaches and often hold to unbiblical or even heretical beliefs. For example, a recent study found that a mere 10% of Americans have a biblical worldview (despite 70% of Americans claiming the label of Christian). And the biblical teachings that the study considered part of a “biblical worldview” were the most basic of biblical beliefs, such as the personhood of the Holy Spirit or the existence of Satan. This study is a sad testament to the state of the American church.
What Can We Do?
What can parents, pastors, and Sunday school teachers do to combat biblical illiteracy? Here are a few ideas for how to instill a biblical worldview in the young people under your influence.
- Don’t assume people know the gospel and other fundamentals. We tend to assume that young people who’ve grown up in the church understand the gospel and other biblical doctrines—but you can’t assume this! Research, such as that mentioned at the beginning of this article, has shown that many professing Christians don’t even understand the basics of the gospel message, let alone other doctrines. Weave the gospel into your sermons or teaching moments.
- Teach the whole gospel. Don’t just focus on one aspect of the gospel, such as the Cross or the Resurrection. Teach the whole gospel from beginning to end—including the bad news about our sin nature that begins in Genesis.
- Don’t teach just “Bible stories.” Teaching God’s Word as “stories” can unintentionally imply that God’s Word is nothing but a fairy tale or that it is less than authoritative. Teach the accounts in Scripture as real history, just as the Bible itself does. And help people to understand how these accounts teach us theology and doctrine. They don’t just teach us to be brave like David or forgiving like Joseph—they teach us things about God and his plan throughout history.
- Teach the whole Bible. On this side of the Cross, we often find the New Testament easier to understand than the Old Testament, because it is full of seemingly foreign concepts like sacrifice and Levitical law. But these are foundational concepts to the New Testament teachings about Christ and what he did for us. The Old Testament is part of our Bible for a very good reason, and we need to teach it.
- Encourage and answer questions. Christianity is a reasoned faith with answers to the skeptical questions of our day. Encourage your young people to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, tell them that and promise to follow up—and then do! You’ll both learn something!
A Resource to Combat Biblical Illiteracy
We at Answers in Genesis have a passion for reaching young people—the next generation of pastors, teachers, parents, and Christian leaders—with the message of biblical authority and the gospel. We want people to know what the Bible says and to live by it. Research for Ken Ham’s coauthored book Already Gone revealed that two-thirds of young people are leaving the church largely because of unanswered questions about the Christian faith; we wanted to equip believers and churches to do something about it. So we developed Answers Bible Curriculum (ABC).
ABC is a Sunday school curriculum that goes through the Bible chronologically and includes in-depth teaching, apologetics, and theology. It is available for preschool through adult and synchronized across age groups so dad, mom, and the kids are all learning the same thing at varying levels. Since we recently updated ABC, the second edition includes several dozen new lessons and is now spread over four years instead of three.
Get a free month of ABC Sunday school and discover the difference! Answers Bible Curriculum covers the Bible in four years, equipping all ages to defend and apply God’s Word.
ABC has been an extremely popular Sunday school, homeschool, Bible study, and Christian school resource. Pastors, teachers, and parents have told us their congregation and families have been changed and have grown in their knowledge of God’s Word because of it. It’s a tremendous resource to help combat biblical illiteracy and to encourage all believers to put their faith and trust in Christ and in his Word.