Over the past few weeks we’ve been distributing ‘Penny Gospels‘ – some of the responses have been surprising. One lady, who refused a copy, said, “No, I’ve got one already and I can hardly put it down.” She was clearly gripped by the story of Jesus so familiar to many Christians. However, many people know nothing of Jesus and very little of other stories contained in the Bible. It did make me think – how well do Christians know their Bible?
I was reading an article recently which related the comments and questions from some Bible college students. Was Joshua the son of a nun? Obviously no understanding that nuns weren’t around in Joshua’s time and Nun was Joshua’s father! Was Saul the missionary in Acts the same as King Saul (from 1 Kings)? This is what we call biblical illiteracy.
The Bible Society in England and Wales conducted a study of over 800 children (aged 8-15) and 5,000 adults (of whom just over 1,000 were parents) in January this year. When asked to identify which biblical stories they were familiar with, the results showed a decline in Bible knowledge in the younger generation:
- 23% of children said they had never read, seen or heard of Noah’s Ark;
- 25% had never heard the Nativity story;
- 43% had never seen, read or heard the story of the Crucifixion;
- 57% had not heard of David or Goliath;
- 85% had not seen, read or heard the story of Solomon.
There are countless statistics but, ultimately, the challenge is personal – how well do I know my Bible? How well am I applying it to living in today’s society?
In days gone by people who acknowledged that they didn’t believe, they were not Christians, still memorised Scripture and recognised the significance and importance of the text. Today many Christians have lost confidence in the Bible. We say we believe it to be the Word of God, so we should act on its instructions, be inspired by its truth and believe. Thank God for the people whose actions and words demonstrate these truths, and pray for more people to join them in speaking out and living out God’s Word.
Church Partnership Manager