Charting the Course to Biblical Literacy

Christ’s church has fallen into a troubling rut. Studies show that Christians know less of the Bible than at any other time in recent history. The level of Bible knowledge has decreased even among our best and brightest. One administrator of more than 20 years at a Christian college noted, “Our assumption now is that incoming freshmen know nothing about the Bible, and that we must start at the most basic level.”¹ Did you catch that? Christian colleges assume that incoming students know nothing about the Bible! What has happened? Why has our collective knowledge of the Bible dropped so dramatically in recent decades?

The most obvious reason is that Christians are not spending as much time reading and learning Scripture. In a world where so many enticements battle for our attention, the Bible often gets lost in the shuffle—even for those who desire to read it. Yet the Bible stresses the importance of hearing and knowing God’s Word (Psalm 1:2; 119:11; 1 Timothy 4:13). Therefore, Christ’s church must recommit to spending time reading, memorizing, and hearing God’s Word. Parents need to encourage these good habits in their children, just as fellow believers need to encourage them in each other. One can find a number of creative ways to study the Bible. This month’s featured resource, Scripture for Skillful Living: 40 Verses from Proverbs, offers an excellent opportunity to commit God’s Word to memory.

There’s a deeper reason for our problem. Sure, this world is full of distractions. But it’s too easy to look only outside of ourselves for the source of the problem. Any problem facing the church should prompt us to look first at ourselves as individuals. If our need is a better knowledge of God’s Word, then we must ask what motivates us to know Scripture. The occasional exhortation of a parent or a respected preacher may make an immediate impact but not likely a lasting one. No, our true motivation to pursue the knowledge of God’s Word comes from a much deeper place—our spiritual maturity rooted in our abiding love for Jesus. When we love Christ purely, we want to live lives that please Him, that reflect His desires for us and, most of all, that reveal to others that we know Him. And, because the Bible is where God has made Himself known, our knowledge of Scripture is the key way to grow in our knowledge of Him. 

Should we know the Bible better in order to grow spiritually? Or should we grow spiritually in order to know the Bible better? It’s both. Let’s break out of our rut and chart a new path, a route built on a foundation of spiritual commitment and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Only then can we truly be a people of the Book.

  1. Mark S. Krause, as quoted in Larry Fowler, Raising a Modern-Day Joseph: A Timeless Strategy for Growing Great Kids (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2009), 29.

Copyright © 2011 by Insight for Living.

About the author


John Adair

John Adair received his master of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, where he also completed his Ph.D. in Historical Theology. He served for seven years as a writer in the Creative Ministries Department of Insight for Living Ministries. John and his wife, Laura, have three children.

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