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« Que Viva Espana | Main | RE: Biblical Illiteracy »

September 27, 2006

Re: Biblical Illiteracy

Diane's post on the church's failure to encourage Scriptural literacy has sparked a fascinating discussion. As it should, since Spirit-inspired knowledge of God's Word is the only foundation by which we can truly understand the person and nature of God. For my two cents, such a failure stems largely from two mindsets infiltrating the modern church.

First, while most Christian leaders are quick to encourage respect of the Scripture, much fewer are willing to admonish reverence for it. This is not just semantics. The difference lies in authority, wherein those who merely respect the teachings of the Bible remain free to ignore passages that are inconvenient or seem out of date. To revere Scripture, however, means to give careful attention and study to every word to see what it reveals about the Lord -- and to adjust one's life accordingly.

The other danger, clearly stemming from the first, is our intense desire for practicality. We demand that messages, sermons, books, and the Bible offer tips or self-help, which leads to a temptation to be interested only in how Scripture can apply to living in the 21st century, rather than its eternal insights.

So in order to find a deeper understanding of Bible, the church needs to start by taking it seriously.

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Malcolm A. Hawkins

I agree and would like to add that when the 'chruch' became anti-intellectual, many of the rules for interpretation were set aside. Pragmatism, carnality, legalism, and much of what the reformers died for has been lost. I believe the Chruch-the Body of Christ, will stand against the wiles of satan, the world and the flesh. Let us keep our eyes on Christ. All have sinned and fallen short of GOD's glory, but the LORD of Lords is on HIS way back!!!!!!!!!!1


I agree with taking scripture not only seriously but in context. That seems to be the biggest obstacle for many Pastors and I hear it over and over. The Bible can say just about anything when The Word is twisted and taken out of context. Recently a pastor had an excellent point when he said that not taking God's name in vain means not saying He said something when He didn't. We wouldn't dream of misquoting a friend, or a celebrity or someone we consider important so we should definitely take care with God's Word, and understand what He is trying to teach us and tell us through careful study and prayerful consideration.
Only then will we know the Truth and the Truth will set us free.


In the past 20 years, just as Francis Schaeffer predicted in his last book _The Great Evangelical Disaster_, formerly Evangelical denominations have rejected the inerrancy and authority of Scripture and have embraced the old liberalism and existentialism.

They are no longer evangelical, even if they still call themselves that. This is no different than the 1930s in the mainline denominations.

The rot seems to stem from people having to go to secular or liberal universities for their doctoral work, when they return to teach at Christian colleges and seminaries, they bring with them varying degrees of Bultmannianism and Barthianism, undermining the faith of the students and seminarians. Once again, the Church is brought low (but not destroyed) by the desire to receive the approval of "Christianity's cultured despisers"

Michael Liljenberg

We do seem to lack an understanding of the sacred. A missionary to India once told me that one of the quickest ways to stop a Hindu from hearing your Gospel presentation was to put your Bible on the seat next to you. The Indian will think, "Your "holy" scripture must not be all that holy if you're willing to just set it down on the part of a chair that has been touched by somebody's butt."

On the other hand the churches I've been in that approach the Bible with the most high liturgical pomp and ceremony, are the churches the most likely to read it with a pair of scissors or not read it at all.

Both the casual familiarity and the empty ceremony misses what is stamped in gold leaf on the cover: Holy Bible.

Our casual familiarity with the Bible can be seen in how we market it nowadays as just another book. You can go to any Bible bookstore (or WalMart or even a regular bookstore) and find countless covers and extra content crafted for every imaginable demographic group. Granted, a lot of that is an effort by Christian publishers to try and make a book branded by much of our culture as hoplessly irrelevant appear relevant. But it makes the Bible just another book, packaged and sold by a "you SHOULD judge a book by its cover" publishing industry trying to sell more copies of a book everybody already has a copy of. No more or less sacred than any other book in the store.

Try making how you handle your bible a spiritual discipline. Get a separate Bible for your devotional reading that you set apart (sanctify) from your other books. Don't write in it. Don't cram it so full of church bulletins that you break the binding. Don't allow yourself to stack other things on top of it. Even wash your hands before you read it. As you treat it as a sacred thing: the Holy Word of the Holy God, you might find yourself seeing the words inside as sacred words, holy words from a Holy God.


It is a sad fact but many churches are just social clubs that teach a cotton candy God. many who are in a church like that dont know it I was like that for many years until I heard of a group called BSF international I have been studying the bible with them for 6 years now and much has changed. when I truy learned more about what the bible says I started asking my pastor questions I think he was not prepared to answer, I felt that we ought to teach more of the bible and follow it my narrow view of the bible has led me to a new church that is so much more than fellowship I would encourage you all to help your friends in these situations invite them to groups like BSF (www.BSFinternational.org) go with them and support them as they grow we cant always rely on pastors to teach it is part of our job as well


Read Eugene H. Peterson's, "Eat This Book: a conversation in the art of spiritual reading" for more on this subject. I've been encouraged to approach Biblical exegesis as an act of love. He does a wonderful job in teaching how to read the Bible - not for self-serving purposes, but as a discipline for growth and change. It has been a great read.

Mike Caruso

The Word should permeate our lives daily-not just in church (or not- as some have indicated). How we speak, how we act, what we watch on TV, our leisure time, etc. should all stem from a Biblical world view.

The problem with the Evangelical Church in western culture is we (the church) reflect the culture. The culture does not relfect the Church- which it would if we lived according to the Bible's teachings. Application of Scripture is the key. This means daily reading and study, prayer-constantly, showing love to other Christians, and witnessing to others by our actions, not only our words.

I encourage all people to find a Bible teaching church and to attend a serious Bible Study (Like BSF), and GET INVOLVED in organizations like Prison Fellowship, Koinonia House Ministries (www.koinoniahouse.org), or a local Pro Life organization. It will make a huge difference in your spiritual growth and directly impact others.

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