Clearly there is a need to treat biblical illiteracy in this
country with all the urgency of a medical emergency.
GEORGE GALLUP, JR.
THE BIBLE LITERACY CONTINUUM
There is much more to understanding and obeying the Bible than just Bible literacy. Reading is fundamental, but it isnt enough. Just reading the Bible or hearing it read doesnt qualify as spiritual maturity. However, taking the first baby steps toward spiritual maturity means taking initial steps in Bible literacy. You have to read the Bible before you can interpret it and apply it. If we neglect the text of Scripture, spiritual maturity will always be an unrealized pipedream.
Charting Bible Illiteracy
Early in my thinking about this subject I developed a scale for Bible literacy. Its a continuum, a line along which each of us finds ourselves in relationship to how well we relate to the Bible and its Author. This scale demonstrates that there is much more to Bible literacy than simply reading.
Each increment of this scale moves a person from pagan ignorance of the Bible to full connectivity with the Author and full activity in service to Him. Note the progression from darkness to light.
THE KROLL SCALE OF BIBLE LITERACY
-3 No knowledge of the Bible at all.
A Bible? Whats a Bible? I have never seen a Bible before and I
dont know what youre talking about.
-2 Familiarity with the Bible but no trust in its claims or authority.
A Bible? Yes, I have one someplace, but its just for people like my
grandmother. I dont read the Bible because I dont think its what some
people claim it to be. It has no impact on my life.
-1 Familiarity with the Bible but minimal trust in its claims or
authority and never read it or hear its truth so the Bible has little
or no personal impact on your life.
A Bible? Yes, I have one but theres not much in it that appeals to
me. I dont know if its what it claims to be or not. Whos to say? It has
little influence on me because I dont read it.
+1 Trust in the Bible and its claims and authority but only
occasionally read it or hear its truth so the Bible has only
occasional personal impact on your life.
A Bible? Yes, its Gods Word. I believe its inspired by God and
should be read and obeyed, but I only occasionally get around to reading
it myself. In fact, I have three copies, but I dont read any of them more
than once a week.
+2 Trust in the Bible and its claims and authority and regularly read
it or hear its truth with understanding so the Bible has regular
personal impact on your life.
A Bible? Yes, I have one and read it regularly. I believe its
inspired by God. Im in a Bible reading program at church. I also read a
verse or two along with my devotional book on a fairly regular basis.
+3 Trust in the Bible and its claims and authority and daily read it or
hear its truth so the Bible produces a passion to connect
personally with the Author and induces the reader to share Him
A Bible? Read it? Are you kidding? I want to know God so badly
that I devour the Bible daily. I used to read a couple of verses along with
my devotional but now thats not enough for me. Through reading Gods
Word I get to know Him intimately and, as a result, I am energized to
share Gods story with my friends and family.
Ultimately, the goal of reading the Bible is to develop such a degree of faith in its claims and understanding of its content that you passionately connect with its Author and share Him consistently with your friends and family. Anything short of this is short of the goal of Bible literacy.
However, Bible literacy, as defined in this book, occurs when we begin to read the Word of God, gain some understanding from it, and allow it to have regular impact on our lives. Thats not full-blown spiritual maturity, but neither is it the full-blown neglect of Scripture that is so prevalent in the Church today. Bible literacy, then, occurs at about a +2 with the goal of moving on to a +3.
Finding your position
The key question you should ask yourself is: Where am I on this continuum? Am I in the minus column or the plus column? And if I am in the plus column, what am I receiving from my Bible that truly influences my life and connects me with God and service to Him?
No one should be satisfied with a +2, but its the place to start just as Bible literacy is the place to start on the road to spiritual maturity.
In my thinking, Bible literacy does not indicate full spiritual maturity, but it is a necessary first step on the road to full spiritual maturity. The only way to become mature in Christ is to through the door of Bible literacy.
We are now ready to talk seriously about what I think is the number one issue facing both the depth and growth of the Churchcreeping Bible illiteracy. In the next chapter we will trace the five decades of decline in Bible literacy from the 1960s to the present. If you were born after 1960, Bible literacy has all but disappeared in your lifetime.
Read more in:
TAKING BACK THE GOOD BOOK
How America Forgot the Bible and Why It Matters To You
Check it out at yur local Christian bookstore or
go online at backtothebible.org or call 1-800-759-2425
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