Woodrow Kroll, President
to the Bible International
analyzing more than 10,000 personal interviews conducted during 2003, researcher
George Barna maintains that while three-fifths of Americans say they believe the
Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches, they both appear to know
little of what's in the Bible nor does what's in the Bible appear to have
little impact on their lives. As a
result, the moral foundations of the nation continue to crumble more rapidly
each year. The crisis in
American morality is a crisis in Bible illiteracy.
year saw increases in the proportions of people who believe that cohabitation
(60%), adultery (42%), sexual relations between homosexuals (30%), abortion
(45%), pornography (38%), the use of profanity (36%) and gambling (61%) are
"morally acceptable" behaviors.
George Gallup Jr. is right:
"Biblical illiteracy presents not only a spiritual or religious
problem in this nation, but a cultural one as well."
We cannot inhibit the great American slide into a moral vacuum until
someone seriously addresses the problem of Bible illiteracy both in the world
and in the church.
Bad is the Problem of Bible Illiteracy?
years ago the Gallup Organization devised The Gallup Biblical Knowledge Quiz to
test the Bible knowledge of the American public.
When asked: "What is first book of Bible?", 49% answered correctly.
When asked: "Can you name one of the prophets in the Old Testament?",
21% could. And 35% of the American
population could name the four Gospels. This
means, of course, that 51% could not name the first book of the Bible, 79% could
not name a single prophet of the Old Testament, and 65% of Americans could not
name Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
But that's the general population.
Surely Bible illiteracy isn't a problem for the Christians in America.
There is little discernable difference between the knowledge of God's
Word in the "Born Again" community and the American population at large.
America's bastions of evangelical education is Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL).
Still, when Dr. Gary Burge, Chairman of the New Testament department tested
incoming Freshmen to Wheaton, students from fine Evangelical homes and Christian
schools, alarmingly he discovered: one-third
of freshmen could not sequence in order Abraham, the OT prophets, the death of
Christ, and Pentecost. Half could
not sequence Moses in Egypt, Isaac's birth, Saul's death, Judah's exile.
One third could not find Paul's travels in Acts.
And one-half didn't know the Christmas story was in Matthew.
facts do not reflect poorly on Wheaton-we are talking about freshmen-but on
the churches and homes who sent these students to a Christian college.
Have The Money; They Lack The Will
ministries will raise nearly $60 billion for domestic ministry in 2003," says
Barna, "and there is an estimated $3 billion of new construction work
occurring on church properties to facilitate expanded ministry activities. All
of these figures lend an air of security and stability to the religious
condition of the country." But
while the Church in America tears down its barns and builds bigger barns, the
people in the pews become more biblically ignorant in each generation.
Bible illiteracy has reached crisis proportion in America.
missions-minded Christians fail to see the importance of Bible-teaching in their
missionary goals and expenditures. Renowned
British missiologist and author of the popular book Operation World, Patrick
Johnstone lamented: "Christian donors need to be guided by the Lord rather
than by their emotional response to physical suffering. The famine of the Word of God is still a more serious problem
than that of food in Africa today." (Operation
World, 21st Century Edition (Carlisle, England: Paternoster,
2001, p. 702)
If we truly believe that an informed public will become an active public,
we should also believe that a biblically-informed Christian will become a
biblically-active Christian. Action
without understanding is like heat without light. Inaction because of a lack of understanding is the absence of
both heat and light. But biblical
understanding that leads to biblical action is the ideal combination of heat and
light. Who will address the crisis
of Bible illiteracy in America?
Conclusion of the Whole Matter
Pollster George Gallup Jr. once remarked, "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." If serious patrons
of the Word of God don't address this need, who will?
If we don't address it now, when?
"If Christians blew the dust off their
Bibles at the same time, we'd all be killed in the dust storm."
-- Woodrow Kroll
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