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Dumb and Dumber

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Biblical illiteracy is a problem that is getting worse in America. Mark Yarborough and I were talking about this recently on my radio program as we discussed his new book, How to Read the Bible Like a Seminary Professor. We were talking about the article by Ed Stetzer, Dumb and Dumber: How Biblical Literacy Is Killing Our Nation.

Ed Stetzer reminds us about the Bible’s impact on this country. “It has shaped our laws, social systems, and even language.” Unfortunately, people use biblical phrases and don’t even know they are from the Bible. They may talk about “the good Samaritan” or say that “you reap what you sow” and never see the biblical connection.

There are many reasons for this lack of biblical literacy. One answer is found in that second word “literacy.” A Pew Research study found that 23 percent of Americans did not read a single book last year. That is a three-fold increase from 1978. If Americans aren’t reading a book, then it stands to reason they aren’t reading THE book – the Bible.

Another problem may be the lack of emphasis of Bible reading in church. A LifeWay study found that only 45 percent of people who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Is it possible that we have created a Christian subculture that suggests that the only time you need to read your Bible is during a church service?

It’s not as if we don’t have access to Bibles. Most of us have more than one Bible in our possession. In fact, most of us carry Bibles with us on our smart phones, tablets, and computers. Many of us even have dozens of commentaries and Bible helps on our computers. We are fully equipped to read God’s Word and to study it effectively.

One missing factor, I think, is accountability. If you are involved in a small group or Bible study, there is simply no way you could go an entire week without reading your Bible. You would need to be reading the Bible in order to engage in a discussion in a Bible study. A leader of a small group could ask each member what they were learning in God’s Word that week.

Biblical illiteracy is a problem. But those of us in the church don’t need to be dumb and dumber when it comes to reading God’s Word.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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