Submitted by Andy McIlvain and originally posted March 2020.
There is a pandemic that has silently moved through the world. It is particularly acute in our region. It is not the Coronavirus or Avian Flu. It is Bible Illiteracy. Unfortunately, in our age especially in the western cultures, when the Bible and related resources are at an all-time high of availability, most professing Christians have little to no knowledge of what they profess to be the most important book in their lives.
Does this describe you?
Barna Group statistics from 2018 indicate that one half of Americans use the Bible, and 14% of those read it daily, 13% several times a week, 8% once a week, 6% once a month, and 8% three or four times a year. Just over half who read the Bible in the past week gave it some further thought as to application to their lives. Most could not name the first five books of the Bible or very few of the 12 Apostles.
Christianity began in a time of great illiteracy, but the gentiles (non-Jewish) still managed to be faithful and Biblically literate through oral traditions. The Reformation brought the Bible into the hands of many, as well as an explosion of learning.
Kenneth Berding of the Talbot School of Theology says, “Christians used to be known as “people of one book.” They memorized it, meditated on it, talked about it, and taught it to others,” he wrote. “We don’t do that anymore, and in a very real sense we’re starving ourselves to death.” He goes on to say: “Many Americans don’t consider the Bible to be authoritative that is, they don’t consider the Bible to place a claim on their lives,” he lamented.
Where are you now at this point in your life as a Christian?
Have you been aware of and worked on your spiritual maturity as you age? The Christian life is not just about knowledge or memorizing data. The Christian way of life is an immersion in the life-long process of becoming more Christ-like. To do that you must be attentive daily to God’s Holy Word that is found in Scripture. It is through the living Word, confession of sins, and prayer that we grow in grace through Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Reading the Bible slowly and meditatively is how God confronts us, reproves us, corrects us, and thereby changes us.
Scan reading has become the default for all of us living in the digital age. Therefore, we lack the concentration to read a long novel or lengthy book of any kind.
Separate yourself from digital distractions; turn off your phone or tablet etc. Take time to slowly read the Bible, meditate, concentrate and reflect on what you have read. You and I are custodians of Bible literacy for future generations, so that they might know Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is a glorious and noble understanding of literacy and is worth protecting no matter the sacrifice.