This week we are starting a new series called “A Case for the Bible 101” (the actual class will be taught in April at Sea Coast Grace Church in Cypress, CA). This is part of a Christian Apologetics’ program that we am running over the course of this year, and it is the culmination of the combined work of top Christians scholars and teachers in the Apologetics’ world, along with materials I gleaned from my time at Biola in the Christian Apologetics’ Graduate Program.
Class Ministry Statement:
- The purpose of this ministry is to provide participants with the information and tools needed to address the questions asked of Christians in our culture today (1 Peter 3:15), this includes an emphasis on developing our Christian walk through:
- Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; John 17)
- Proper Biblical interpretation through the use of hermeneutics (Matthew 22:37; 2 Timothy 2:15)
- An apologetic defense of the historicity, inerrancy, and inspiration of the Christian Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
- Discipleship (Matthew 28:18-20; Hebrews 10:23-25)
- This ministry believes that it is the responsibility of every person to invest serious time looking into the claims of Christianity because what we believe to be true about God, human purpose, and destiny defines us in this life and more importantly in the next (John 14).
- This ministry is committed to providing Biblical truths based on the entirety of the Scriptures—both Old and New Testaments. (John 14:6-7; 2 Peter 1:16-19; 1 John 1:1-4).
- This ministry believes that the most important question we must answer in this life is the one Jesus asked of his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:18-20).
This life is temporal—eternity is forever.
Own your faith; know what you believe, and why you believe it!
Then share it with others!
Why we need to become Biblically literate Christians:
If you follow the daily news, and if you’ve had much experience in public education, you are probably in tune to the fact that we are in a post-Christian era. Many experts would say that western society has moved toward an anti-Christian culture in general with Biblical illiteracy at an all time high, even among professing Christians. We see this supported by recent statistics from research groups like Barna, the Pew Research Center, and Biola University that keep a pulse on religious issues, attitudes, and trends shaping our culture today.
One of the most disturbing trends is that more people are checking the religious category of “none” on surveys, jumping it to the third largest category worldwide while moving Hinduism to number four. Christianity and Islam still hold the top two spots. Even more alarming is the rise in the number of young people identifying as “nones.”
Studies now show that upward of 70% of young people between the ages of 18-30 are leaving the faith with less than one-third returning as they age, and in today’s world Christians face a battle not just at home, school, or in the workplace, but internationally. This is because everyone is involved in some form of social media on the “worldwide web.” Statistics show the top two categories of social media literature today is either in some form of pornography or religion.
What side of the battle will you be on?
Kennth Berding, Professor of New Testament at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology, in a 2014 Biola Magazine article wrote this:
“In 1986, Neil Postman published an influential cultural essay titled “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” He argued that personal freedoms would disappear not when a totalitarian government imposed oppression from the outside (like George Orwell pictured in his book 1984), but rather when people came “to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think” (like Aldous Huxley depicted in Brave New World).” Berding citing Postman:
“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.”
What is alarming is that Huxley’s view has come to pass in our twenty-first century culture! So where does that leave us when we try to encourage Biblical literacy among Christians today? If the Bible forms our worldview how do we develop that sense of importance when no one seems to care about reading it?
Is there an epidemic of Biblical Illiteracy?
Of Americans polled nationwide beliefs about the Bible seem to be as follows:
|Barna Research Group Poll Questions||Age response|
|1. Sacredness of the Bible: % of people who believe that the Bible is a holy book.||45+ = 90%
26–44 = 81%
18–25 = 67%
|2. Biblical accuracy: % of people who believe that the Bible is accurate on all accounts.||65+ = 58%
45-63 = 46%
26-44 = 39%
18-25 = 35%
|3. Universalism of the Bible: % of people who believe that the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other (so-called) holy books.||65+ = 33%
26-63 = 40%
18-25 = 56%
|4. Bible appetite: % of people who say they have the desire to gain Bible knowledge.||65+ = 9%
45-63 = 12%
18-44 = 19%
Some additional stats:
Skepticism of Origins: Young adults are more likely to express skepticism about the original manuscripts of the Bible than is true of older adults.
Less Engagement: While many young adults are active users of the Bible, the pattern shows a clear generational drop-off – the younger the person, the less likely then are to read the Bible.
David Kinnaman, who directed the analysis of the research, explained that, “the central theme of young people’s approach to the Bible is skepticism. They question the Bible’s history as well as its relevance to their lives, leading many young people to reject the Bible as containing everything one needs to live a meaningful life. This mindset certainly has its challenges but it also raises the possibility of using their skepticism as an entry point to teaching and exploring the content of the Bible in new ways.”
There is hope. Programs like True U (sponsored by Focus on the Family and the creators of the Truth Project), and conferences like those held by Summit Ministries, Impact 360, and ‘Re-Think’ are focused on the next generation. Check out this clip by True U and Focus on the Family:
In addition, we need to be aware of the fact that many people who claim to be Christians fail to work on their Biblical literacy and therefore misrepresent what Christianity teaches. In May of 2017, Barna took another survey that highlighted practicing Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly. It showed that only 17% actually have a Biblical worldview. Unfortunately, Christians not having a worldview based on the Bible opens the door for “syncretism” (a blending of beliefs). This study points out four tenets of other worldviews that have infiltrated Christian beliefs:
- 61% of Christians agree with ideas rooted in the views of New Spirituality (examples: All people pray to the same god; meaning and purpose come from becoming one with all that is; if you do good you will receive good and vice-versa).
- 54% of Christians resonate with postmodernist views (examples: No one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life; what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes; if your beliefs offend someone it is wrong)
- 36% of Christians agree with ideas associated with Marxism (examples: Private property encourages greed and envy; the government, rather than individuals, should control as much of the resources as necessary to ensure that everyone gets their fair share; If the government leaves them alone, businesses will mostly do what’s right)
- 29% of Christians believe ideas based on secularism (examples: A belief has to be proven by science to know it is true; a person’s life is valuable only if society sees it as valuable; meaning and purpose come from working hard to earn as much as possible so you can make the most of life)
In today’s culture we often have to put the reliability and truth of the Bible up against a courtroom test, like lawyers. There are multiple lines of evidence that support the Bible’s trustworthiness. We will keep this theme of investigation as we begin our ‘case-making’ for the Bible next week. Learning some of the things that will be presented here over the next few weeks will give you greater trust and confidence that the Bible is truly the Word of God.
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in! Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.
1 Peter 3:15