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Is the United States 'A Nation of Biblical Illiterates'?

Journalist David Van Biema of TIME magazine describes a disaster of biblical proportions. He says that although about two-thirds of Americans “believe the Bible holds the answers to ‘all or most of life’s basic questions,” about half of them don’t know that Genesis is the first book of the Bible. Or that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the four Gospels about Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder that pollster George Gallup has dubbed the United States “a nation of biblical illiterates”?


The Prince of Preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon, once said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” Given these sorry statistics, it’s clear that many of us—even in the church—are living elsewhere.


And let’s face it, if we are not steeped in God’s Word, especially in a culture that’s working 24/7 to undermine the biblical worldview, can we be at all surprised if our faith is left high and dry?daily_commentary_1_26_15


Further, if we’re not being transformed daily by prayerful consideration of the Bible, we can rest assured that we will not transform the culture, either. William Wilberforce certainly never would have had the impact he did if he didn’t know what God’s Word says about human dignity and the love of Christ. And where did Dietrich Bonhoeffer get the courage to stand up to the Nazis, if not from Scripture?


Friends, if we’re not living in God’s Word daily, what are we living in? The Internet? Facebook? Twitter? TV? Now, don’t get me wrong: These can all be helpful tools if used wisely, but often they keep us from the life-giving nourishment of the Word of God. I love the imagery of Psalm 1, which says the one who meditates on God’s law, “is like a tree / planted by streams of water / that yields its fruit in its season, / and its leaf does not wither.”


Do you want to experience that same kind of spiritual life in 2015? I know that I do!


So let’s start by living in God’s Word—by reading and applying the Bible to our lives. Here are a few simple ideas of how we can do that. Let me suggest the classic devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest,” by Oswald Chambers. Now it’s a classic for a reason, and even if you’ve read it before, it has a richness that will reward you again and again. As C.S. Lewis said, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” And if you’ve never had the pleasure, you’ll have a real treat in front of you.


Now in that same vein, let me recommend “Morning and Evening,” another beloved devotional, by Spurgeon. It’s available in a modern English version, if you so wish. Come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll give you details on both of these classics.


But let me also point out an intriguing newcomer, by my friend Stan Guthrie. It’s called “God’s Story in 66 Verses: Understand the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book.” That was just released by Thomas Nelson.


Here at BreakPoint and the Colson Center, we’ve been preaching about the need to communicate with our culture not only through facts and arguments, but also through stories, and that’s what Stan has pulled off in “God’s Story in 66 Verses.” It leads you through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, by focusing on verses that help you grasp what each book is about, and what the Bible as a whole is about.


As my colleague John Stonestreet says, “This helpful book can overcome our tendency to, as Francis Schaeffer put it, ‘see the world in bits and pieces.’” Timothy George calls it “a spiritual digestive for an up close and personal encounter with God’s Word.”


But however you choose to start living in God’s Word this year, let’s remember some more sage words from Spurgeon, who said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”


BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Publication date: January 26, 2015

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