DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT – WEDNESDAY WARRIOR! #48. Biblical Illiterates.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. - 2 Tim 2:15.
Although we are a smaller nation than the United States, I believe that the statistics given below are indicative of Australia’s Biblical Illiteracy…
Pollster George Gallup Jr. has long referred to America as a "nation of biblical illiterates." Only four in 10 Americans know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. A majority of citizens cannot name the four Gospels of the New Testament. Only three in 10 teenagers know why Easter is celebrated. Two-thirds of Americans believe there are few, if any, absolute principles to direct human behavior. A new poll by the Barna Research Group suggests that religious illiteracy has increased.
For example, three out of four Americans (and nearly half of "born-again" Christians) believe the Bible teaches that "God helps those who help themselves." George Barna argues that self-reliance is not only not scriptural, but that it contradicts revelation. Only God determines a person's destiny, the pollster notes. To believe otherwise "exposes our false theological cornerstone — that we are the center of things, that it is up to us to determine our destiny, and that God is merely our assistant ...
A similar number of born-again Christians deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and Satan. One in five denies Jesus' physical resurrection and believes he was a sinner.
Earlier surveys of mainline Protestants revealed that barely half of Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians believe in the devil, but 56 percent of Lutherans and 49 percent of Methodists believe in UFOs. One-third of Methodists and Presbyterians have faith in astrology. While nearly three-fourths of all Americans believe in hell, hardly any believe it to be their likely destination in eternity.
The new Barna poll is intended to help Christian pastors and groups focus their ministries. The sheer number of "errant theological positions" among believers underscores "the magnitude of the challenge facing churches today," Barna notes.
University of Wisconsin historian Thomas Reeves indicts popular religious belief and service. "Christianity in modern America is, in large part, innocuous," he writes. "It tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as love of God. There is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain."
Former Secretary of Education William Bennett concludes that "We have become the kind of society that civilized countries used to send missionaries to."
These are harsh judgments. Perhaps we have been so busy pursuing the American Dream of the good life that we have neglected to nurture the faith on which the Dream is founded. If so, our only fault is inattention. If at the millennium our common faith has faltered, or has shriveled for lack of nourishment, or has been supplanted by sentimentality, at least we have not succumbed to cynicism. Faith has not been lost, only misplaced. As a people, we can retrieve it together. - David Yountd, Beggaring Belief.
Loving Father, I thank you for Christ in my life. Help me by the power of your Holy Spirit, to glean the principles contained in this essay, that I may be a better disciple for you, and for the extension of your kingdom. In the wonderful name of Jesus I pray, amen!