Home > Christianity, Church, Youth Ministry > Biblical Illiteracy in Today’s Society

Biblical Illiteracy in Today’s Society

In an attempt to get back into thinking and writing regularly with no excuses, I found this article this morning.  It talks about Biblical Illiteracy.  While it was done by BBC, it has some information we in America need to listen to.

  • Fewer than 1 in 20 could name the 10 commandments.
  • 62% of respondents couldn’t name anything about the parable of the Prodigal Son
  • 60% couldn’t name anything about the parable of the Good Samaritan
  • One respondent identified David and Goliath as a ship
  • Another identified the prophet Daniel the main character in the Lion King
  • Younger respondents identified the Bible as old fashioned and out of date

Wake up, church!  Wake up, ministers!

We live in a world where people do NOT read, understand, believe, etc. anything about the Bible.  For me this brings up two different points.

  1. We must change our style.  “Oh boy, here he goes on this issue.”  Listen.  Churches can have whatever music, whatever Bible, whatever whatever they want to do.  By style, I mean our teaching style.  Too many churches today teach with assumptions.  We assume that people know all the stories that we grew up hearing in Mrs. Walker’s Sunday School class.  If we know them, then they should know them, too, right?  But, in a world of Biblical Illiteracy, churches must be willing to nurture and grow people in the Lord.  For some, that might mean going from the beginning and showing them all of the Bible stories that you learned as a child – because as the article implies – some people do not know the so-called “basic stories.” 

    I find this happening on a regular basis.  I’ve often wondered if Sunday School and small groups has sort of gone the wrong way.  Looking at a brief history of Sunday School, at its roots, there was school involved.  I feel too many teachers have allowed Sunday school to become very shallow. At the beginning, kids and adults would learn Scripture and memorize it.  They were taught etiquette and other things.  By a lot of kids growing up in church, many of them never learn anything about their faith because before the service, they get nothing more than a shallow sermon that they don’t want to listen to before going to a bigger sermon that they don’t want to listen to.  Whose fault is it?  I blame the church as a whole, for losing sight of teaching people the truth of God’s Word and showing them the importance of its study and instruction and committing oneself to learning it. So, I believe our style of teaching should greatly change in order to respond to the Biblical Illiteracy Model.

  2. The Church has failed in the past. I know I kinda just hit on it, but really, it has to be noted.  When kids leave youth group and children’s program, what do they need to know?  What should they know?  With many students graduating and leaving the church, I tend to think that if they get interviewed somewhere down the road and can’t name any stories from the Bible, maybe the church missed their goal.  Basic instruction should take place.  So, all this is to say, is your church really teaching your students, or is it just enough to entertain them and love them like Jesus?  Loving like Jesus is great and awesome, but teaching them why and showing them in the Bible goes a long way.  They should know.

So, in an attempt to redeem this blog from the depths of the internet, I hope this writing and article will spur you to action.  People no longer understand and study – even devout Christians.  The church has an open door to training and instruction, but will we step through?

Link to article.

  1. July 27, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I’m a filthy atheist and I do better than those who were polled. 🙂

    I don’t remember the parable of the Prodigal Son (though if someone started telling it to me, I might be able to complete it), and while I know he wasn’t in the Lion King I know very little about Daniel, but the rest I nailed! What do I win?

    “Younger respondents identified the Bible as old fashioned and out of date”

    Kind of agree with that one…

  2. July 27, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Hey buddy,

    Sorry I’ve been a crappy blog-keeper. Glad to see you still around.

    I really wanted to pull the cheesy Christian line about winning free salvation, but I don’t know that you’d bite on that one 😉

    • July 27, 2009 at 9:58 am

      No, not really. Besides, I know the Bible in the same way that I know Harry Potter. Knowing the text doesn’t necessarily equate to believe it to be true.

      And don’t worry about bad blog-keeping. I’m bad at it too. Granted, I had the excuse of cancer surgery (all cured now though), but still.

  3. July 27, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Hey, that is very awesome with the cure. Very very glad to hear that.

    • July 27, 2009 at 10:45 am


      Actually, less of a cure than “cutting it out”, but I guess that still applies.

  1. July 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm

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