Bible Illiteracy: Reverse the Course

A couple of days ago my husband sent me a link to an article he just knew I would be interested in reading.

He is, you see, very aware that my heart as of late has been grieved over the widespread problem of Bible illiteracy in the U.S.

I am embarrassed to admit that up until three or four months ago, I was totally and completely unaware of this problem.  I had never consciously heard the phrase, Bible Illiteracy.

[tweetthis]But God…[/tweetthis] was more than aware of the problem, positioned me in just the right spot, and then – invited me in!

“Is there REALLY a problem?” you might ask.

Consider these statistics:

From: The State of the Bible, a study by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society.

  • 88% of households own a Bible.
  • 4.7 – The average number of Bibles per household.
  • 37% of Americans read [the Bible] once a week or more.

“Bible ownership remains strong, but readership remains weak.”

And from a recent LifeWay Research study:

  • 45% of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week.
  • Over 40% of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month.
  • Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible – essentially the same number who read it every day.

In considering the LifeWay data, Ed Stetzer in his article, The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Church, concludes, “Christians claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word. We claim it’s God’s divinely inspired, inerrant message to us. Yet despite this, we aren’t reading it.”

These statistics alone cause concern in a world turned upside down.

Then I read the article sent to me by my husband, The Scandal of Biblical Ignorance by Al Mohler.  I hope you will take the time to go over and read the article, but here are just a few of the frightening take-aways.

“The … scandal is biblical ignorance among Christians. Choose whichever statistic or survey you like, the general pattern is the same. America’s Christians know less and less about the Bible.”

“This really is our problem, and it is up to this generation of Christians to reverse course.”

“We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs. The many fronts of Christian compromise in this generation can be directly traced to biblical illiteracy….”

While the information in Dr. Mohler’s article is heart-breaking (It includes several specific examples that support the conclusion of Bible Illiteracy.), what really pierced my heart was the comment made to the post by a young mom.  Acknowledging and agreeing with the problem, she then cries out for her daughters — asking for resources to help “get my girls” into the Bible.

A heart-wrenching plea from a mother raising children in our current culture and seeking help.

And again, I see God at work – revealing, positioning, inviting.

  • He already prompted the writing of a series of lessons called Digging Deeper. This self-study course is written for adults and introduces multiple ways for engaging with the Bible.
  • He invited me to join Him in reversing the course by working with the fourth and fifth grade girls at my home church on Sundays through the month of June.
  • He spoke to my husband about sharing Dr. Mohler’s article with me and caused my eyes to continue reading until I reached that young mom’s plea.
  • He is urging me now – begin where you are, with these fourth and fifth grade girls, on these Sundays in June – reverse the course.

6 comments on “Bible Illiteracy: Reverse the Course

  1. Hi Deborah. I stumbled across your blog post because I’m also interested and concerned about biblical illiteracy. In fact, I spent a lot of time researching it while in seminary.

    There is one aspect of the discussion about this issue that has bothered me, and awhile back I wrote an article about that. I would like to share that with you because it helps put biblical literacy into perspective.

    Biblical Illiteracy: Sounding the Alarm
    https://medium.com/@jasonenorris/biblical-illiteracy-in-the-church-6b85ac4864b9#.7nf9qx3zj

    • Thank you so much for sharing your article and your concern, Jason. I have read your article and agree that Bible Illiteracy is not necessarily a NEW problem, but one that might be better labeled an INCREASING one. I will definitely have to give this more thought and dig a bit deeper.

      Bottom line: Bible Illiteracy is a problem, and we need to do something about it! I was recently asked to hold a one-day workshop on ways to engage with the Scripture. The feedback has been overwhelming. I’d love to share with you if interested.

      Thank you again for taking the time to stop by and to share!

      • I believe the biblical illiteracy issue will be with the church always. That’s especially true for growing churches. As individuals within the church learn more about the Bible AND grow spiritually, they will start reaching out to others. Most new believers are biblically illiterate. If you surveyed your church, you would discover high levels of biblical illiteracy among the congregation. But that’s okay! They are new! They will be learning. But as they learn (and grow spiritually, too), they will be reaching out to their neighbors.

        Biblical illiteracy is a problem, but it’s one that will always be with us. What we need in the church is a plan, a strategy, for teaching. And teachers need teachers to teach them how to teach. Learning can be done by individuals, and is done every day. But learners benefit by having teachers to guide them.

        • I totally agree with you, Jason. There will always be different levels of Bible Literacy within any church or group. I also agree that there needs to be a plan for teaching, well-trained teachers teaching, and learners benefiting from the guidance of those teachers.

  2. Staggering. Praying for more to realize that God’s Word is alive and living and active today. Visiting from Grace & Truth. I think this is my first time here so … “Nice to meet you 🙂 “

    • Nice to meet you, Joanne! Thank you for stopping by. What a powerful prayer for each of us to be praying.

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