Biblical Illiteracy -- By: Henry B. Smith, Jr.
BSpade 21:1 (Winter 2008) p. 1
“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6).
One of the most serious problems facing the Church in the 21st century is the problem of Biblical illiteracy. Simply put, most professing Christians do not possess a sound and coherent understanding of the Bible, beginning with sound doctrine and general Biblical history. Evidence for this sad reality is quite overwhelming. And there are several salient reasons for this dangerous trend.
The Church Has Been “Dumbed Down” by the Culture
The public education system has churned out millions upon millions of young people, while holding to relatively low standards of achievement. We live in a society today where challenging children and teenagers with high standards is considered harmful to their “self-esteem.” Bad grades written in red ink are considered a cause for counseling. Instead of pushing children to excel, standards of academic achievement are lowered. Failure and difficulty, properly controlled by loving parents, should be used to motivate and develop character.
Christian children are not immune to these lowered standards. Children in the Church are not properly challenged to learn fundamental doctrine and matters of Biblical history. They are also not properly taught to pursue personal holiness. Instead, Sunday school is designed to keep children entertained. Like most of our society, many Christian parents seem more concerned with appeasing children and entertaining them as opposed to disciplining and educating them. This culture of entertainment creates short attention spans and an aversion to learning.
Regarding the education and intellectual state of the Church, Daniel Wallace succinctly says:
Those in ministry must close the gap between the church and the academy. We have to educate believers. Instead of trying to isolate laypeople from critical scholarship, we need to insulate them. They need to be ready for the barrage, because it is coming. The intentional dumbing down of the church for the sake of filling more pews will ultimately lead to defection from Christ (2006: 337).
The Church Has Adopted the Cultural Mandate to “Feel Good”
Experience rules supreme in today’s culture. “If it feels good, do it,” and forget the consequences! This mindset is at its worst in the entertainment world, particularly with reality television. One of my favorite pastimes is watching NFL football. I marvel at the athletic ability of the players, the required mental toughness and the nature of the sport. However, these days I have to tolerate players dancing around like they just won the championship...
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