One day a ten year old boy came home with a note from his teacher. The note said,
“We are concerned that your child is illiterate. Can we have a parent-teacher conference?”
The next morning before school the mother stormed into the class room, slammed the note down on the teacher’s desk, looked her straight in the eye and said,
“I’ll have you know, I was married two years before little Ricky was born!”
That said, I have to call a spade a spade. The plague of biblical illiteracy is upon us. We must “take arms against a sea of troubles, and thus by opposing, end them.” But as long as we accept them, they will exist and persist.
“Americans revere the Bible – but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.” – George Gallup and Jim Castelli
How bad is it? Here is a list of results from various surveys…
- Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels
- Many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples
- 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments
- 82 percent of Americans believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse
- 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife
- A survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife
- A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham
I’ve personally heard the following:
- Is Galatians in the Old or New Testament?
- Wasn’t Jacob the guy who got swallowed by the whale?
- That’s a book of the Bible?
- ALL of the disciples were Jewish?
And many more, that I can’t remember at the moment (and some which are too embarrassing to share).
Let’s face the facts: “Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate.” (A quote by George Barna.) And people like George Barna tend to blame churches, pastors and youth pastors. But is it really their problem? Isn’t the problem the mothers and fathers of the children, who are commissioned to teach their children (read the book of Deuteronomy — Book #5 in the biblical lineup, in case you need help — it’s a constant theme) the Bible and biblical values? We have not only failed on a personal level by not engaging the biblical record ourselves, but we have failed the generations of our children, grandchildren and all future generations.
We have a breakdown in the process of discipleship. In order to be a true Disciple of Yeshua (Jesus), we must imitate him. But in order to imitate him, we must know his life and message. In order to know his life and message, we must understand his teachings. In order to understand his teachings, we must have a very good understanding of the Bible he used: the Tanak (a.k.a. the “The Old Testament.” And in order to properly understand the Tanak, we must first understand God’s initial self-disclosure to humanity found in the Torah (or the “Pentateuch” — Genesis through Deuteronomy).
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr (president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) sums it up quite well by saying:
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 in the pews and the absence of biblical preaching and teaching in our homes and churches.
Again, this requires effort to correct.
“A person wants to become a scholar and a leader overnight, and to sleep that night as well.”
—Rabbi Yaizel of Navorodock
If we expect to be good disciples sheerly by osmosis, we are sorely mistaken. It requires an investment.
Start your investment today, so that you will have dividends you can enjoy tomorrow.
- C.S. Lewis & The Talmud
- Discipleship – Retaining the Message of Yeshua
- Brief note on Session 1
- Discipleship – Are We Misunderstanding the Message of Yeshua?
- Abraham the Disciple-Maker
3 thoughts on “Discipleship – #FAIL”
Are you saying that Americans are Bible illiterate or that Christians are Bible illiterate? The former is understandable if those Americans aren’t Christians. The latter is a problem. However Americans and Christians aren’t equivalent terms, so some of the statistics you present don’t really speak to the problem of Bible illiteracy in the church. They only speak to the fact that not everyone in this country is a Christian.
“he used: the Tanak”
Do you mean that He also did not know about the book of Galatians?….LOL!
Amusing :) Im wondering where you found the survey information too? Also, James brings up a good point. I read your post with the assumption you’re referring specifically to American Christians using either “American” or “Christian” as oppose to the global Christian Community or Americans who arent Christian. But for good measure you should probably clarify.
Otherwise, good reminder. You referenced the passages of the Shema in Deut to teach our children. I also like what Isaiah warns in 5:3 “Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst.”
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