Turning (Our) Back to the Bible
Mark DanielsMark Daniels's Weblog
- 2015 Mar 10
I remember a pastor who always wrote in the front of the Bibles he gave to others, “Prayer and this book will keep you from sin. Sin will keep you from prayer, and this book.” So true! The secular culture wars against God’s Word, and battles to keep us from it. And, where millennials and Gen-Xers are concerned, it seems the culture has gained a lot of ground. Pollster George Barna does a “state of the Bible” survey every year, and what he learned in 2014 was startling. No surprise that skepticism toward the Bible continues to rise. But, for the first time since Barna’s tracking began, Bible skepticism is in a tie with Bible engagement. That means the number of those who are skeptical about the Bible and its contents has nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in just three years. This is now equal to the number of people who are Bible engaged—those who read the Bible at least four times a week and believe it is the actual or inspired Word of God.* Drilling deeper into the growing cohort of Bible skeptics, Barna found that two-thirds are 48 or younger—GenXers and Millennials. They are twice as likely to be male than female, and are the most-likely segment not to have attended church (87%), and they’re 63% of all people who did not pray last week.
One could fill a day with speculation about why younger generations are rejecting the Bible. Certainly, modern “tolerance” throws a shadow of doubt on anything making a claim of truth. Post-modern attitudes cast the church and its homilies as part of the murky past that must be rejected or replaced. And without a doubt, the narcissism of the age has compelled us inward, in the search for meaning. But we’ve been identifying such suspects--and railing against them--for decades. It’s way past time to offer a solution, and that answer is balance.
In a well-meaning, but desperate attempt to “right the ship” of the Christian church, we’ve proposed—and attempted—quite a few things. We’ve deconstructed, then re-constructed, the way we “do church.” We’ve moved from preaching and teaching the Bible, toward practical life instruction and “worship experiences.” Those who used to attend Bible conferences have moved toward Christian concerts, and many who enjoyed great Bible instruction on the radio have migrated toward Christian music stations with upbeat DJs and entertaining stories.
Don’t get me wrong—practical life help is part of what you should expect from church. Dynamic worship is an important part of sharing our lives together in the body of Christ. Enjoying Christian music is key, but if you’re not in the Word daily, you’re dead in the water as a Christian. We must never replace real Bible study with any crowd-pleasing, temporary fixes. Nor should churches become so focused on doctrine and instruction that they neglect Christian service, worship, and relationship.
Anyone who loves Scripture knows that the Bible is far from being a mere set of rules written by men, or the history of a people who lived and died long ago. The Bible is the heart of God, a suitor that pursues you relentlessly. Get to know His heart (as He already knows yours), and you will grow to love Him…as He already loves you.
*Barna.org: “The State of the Bible—6 Trends for 2014”