Modern Reject, a fellow blogger, opened her post about biblical literacy by saying “I would venture to say more Christians have the lyrics to Beyonce’s Single Ladies memorized than they do Bible verses.”
I think I agree.
In no other time in history has the Bible been more accessible than it is right now. We’ve got them on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and e-readers in dozens of translations with commentaries, maps and fun pictures. In fact the amount of material available to help us learn the Bible is staggering. This is the Information Age, and we literally have access to God’s Word at our fingertips.And yet the Bible is one of the most misunderstood, under-read books in our age. For all its notoriety and claims as the top selling book ever, not many people really know what it says — much less believing it and allowing it to change their worldview.
The Bible: Relevant or Relic
So why has this generation so rejected the practice of studying the Bible, or even memorizing scripture? I suppose one blog isn’t enough to cover it all, but let’s look at a few things.
The Slingshot Effect: Ever shot a slingshot? Me neither. But I get the point of it. Slip a rock into the sling, pull back and let go! The further you pull back, the further the rock goes. When I was a kid, every time the church doors were open, we were there. Sunday School, Baptist Training Union, Bible Studies throughout the week. The whole gamut. And frustrating as it was, we learned from every event. They all helped expose the Bible for its treasures. They helped us learn the Bible’s stories and they held us accountable to memorizing scripture.
Things have changed. Sunday School is dying. Mid-week church activities either have low attendance or are non-existent (apparently we have chosen to invest our children’s time in far more important things… like piano, ballet and football!), and the accountability churches used to hold its members to has faded.
Maybe this is because the previous generation felt overchurched. In essence, our parents put us in the church sling and pulled way back. Once they let go, we went flying the opposite direction. We may not have left church, but doing church is going to be way more comfortable and fun than it was for us. And sometimes, that means no accountability. Sunday Morning has to be enough, and that had better be about 90 minutes, because anything more is just too long and uncomfortable; which leads me to my next point.
The Two L’s: Logic and Laziness : Two of the major negative side effects of the Information Age. Listen, I’m all for logic. Believe me. In fact, I’m probably way too analytical and logical about things. Logic itself is not a bad thing. But, like anything, if we don’t moderate even our logic or balance logic it with activity, faith, and passion, we’ll miss the taxi cab.
An avalanche of reason and logic has captured the minds of this generation, and we can’t stop it. Nor should we. But we can respond and adjust our teaching style the same way Jesus did. To some he told stories, to others he used the law, and yet others healing and miracles. The challenges the Bible faces today have to do with logical arguments against its authenticity, infallibility, and relevance. No longer is the Bible taken for granted as the living Truth. This is not a generation of faith. This is a testing, challenging generation. And the Bible is under logical fire.
Second,when info is too accessible it produces laziness. Let’s be honest. Most of the time, we don’t want to read the Bible (unless we are facing some trying period in our lives). We want the Bible and all its concepts gift-wrapped and handed to us. We don’t want to discover God’s Word as it relates to our lives. We want someone to discover it for us and make it available.
People don’t treasure what is freely given. We are far more likely to take care of what we worked for it. The work of discovering the riches of God’s Word – the depths and layers, the connections and consistency of its timeless truths – are worth owning. But we’re too busy and not willing to put in the time to find these truths. We suffocate the life His Word brings to our lives by never opening the book. It’s no wonder we can’t hear God’s voice. We don’t know what it sounds like. It’s like we’ve called God, and now he’s calling back but He keeps getting our voicemail… a voicemail we never check!
So Now What?
So how do we address these?
Well I don’t have a 5 step plan, but I’d start with more accountability from the church. And then I’d urge you to get out of your comfy seat and attack the Bible “like a starvin’ man on a Christmas Ham” (betcha can’t say what movie that’s from).
If it’s any encouragement, those verses and lessons I’d learned as a kid came back when I was older. As my dad might say, ‘They were in me.” God still speaks through those same verses with a fresh revelation — something exciting and relevant to my life. Those are the moments the Bible comes most alive. Yes it’s work. But I look at it like I did playing basketball in high school. Sometimes, the practice sucked. Sometimes lifting weights was a drag. But sometimes a light went on in practice. And that felt great. And lifting those weights certainly helped in the games. Because of it, I ran faster, played longer, and felt stronger.
Besides, communication is the key to any good relationship, including the one we have with God. So pray so he will hear you, and read so you can hear Him. And let’s get this biblical literacy thing back on the right foot.
What do you think are some of the causes for biblical illiteracy?
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