Biblical Illiteracy


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I've adopted the following statement regarding the Bible:

"We believe in the Bible. We're awed by it, inspired by it, and believe it is Truth. We're also terrified of it. We don't understand all of it, but we believe it. All of it. That's the important part, because if you only believe some of it, if you try to edit out the parts you don't like, then you don't believe it. Of course, believing it all doesn't mean we perfectly live it all. It doesn't even mean we have it all figured out. Mostly we're scared of it, scared in a good way, because whenever we read it and try to live by it, God shows up and that's pretty terrifying … and also pretty amazing, and pretty …uh … assuring."

The one thing that concerns me about Bible literacy is that we'll give Pat Answers
Have it all figured out. I don't want students to be Bible literate. I want them to be Jesus literate. You see, there is a difference. The Bible points to well ...Jesus. And we're to worship Jesus, not the Bible. The one thing that concerns me is we get so focused on learning rather than doing. Bible literacy isn't about facts, figures, and teaching stories. It's about God's story being a part of our story. Having students making their faith journey - well Their's.


Sometimes that means that not teaching Jesus but BEING Jesus. You see some of the greatest moments in our ministries are when well JESUS shows up. We find people being Jesus' hands and feet and our students catching that. What I find is its not the parts of the Bible that I don't understand that scares me, but that ones I do that scare me. Like "Love one another, bear one another's burdens etc"

Sometimes I think we take the mystery, awe, fear of God, and try to put it all into some logical answers and have all the Bible and it figured out. As for me I'm teaching my students the journey along with their families. What I'd like to see more is more Jesus teaching along with the Bible in the homes rather than just a "Church" program. But that's another rant.


4 Responses to “Biblical Illiteracy”

  1. Anonymous Anonymous 

    great post.

    to me, and most Christian teachers of yesteryear (not that i compare to many/any of them) the Bible is and has always been the central point of our faith. without a working knowledge of it, our faith is based on human widsom and beliefs based solely on emotion and human experience. that kind of wisdom is really not wisdom at all, and surely won't get you through life.

    but most importantly, at least in my way of thinking (which admittedly is sorta old-fashioned) you simply cannot have a biblical worldview without a working knowledge of the Bible. afterall, everything we know in these modern time of Christ, His teachings, His death, burial, resurrection, and return ALL stem from the Bible. some of the most basic teachings of the faith are completly foreign to the average teen. who am i kidding...in these times its more like the average American (adult or teen)!

    this is frightening to me, personally. since now, even Chrstians, are influenced by a number of worldviews, based mostly on what they've recv'd through entertainment. be it music, movies, book, tv shows, or some other form of entertainment. we're entertainment-driven and entertainment-minded.

    now that i have made myself sound like an old geezer (though i'm far from it), i will say that i relate and understrand the spirit and point of your comments too. you're talking about living it and modeling it. i agree 100%. but you have to know what it is your modeling and living, and that would mean starting out with a working knowledge of the Bible.

    in our church, i am floored by the Biblical ignorance when kids that grew up in our church make it to our youth group. good example: i did a pretty powerful teaching on David and Bathsheba about 2 years ago. some of the kids who are raised in christian homes and grew up in our Sunday school programs had never heard the story. i was in shock.

    no, knowledge alone won't cut it. and i'm not suggusting that by reading the Bible for hours on end it will turn them into perfect souls. BUT....in order for faith to work, and in order to stand firm in tough times, there better be mroe there than human wisdom and human experience...and certainly human emotion. we better be "hiding His Word in our hearts", not only so we "don't sin against Him", but also for the "renewing of our minds" in the midst of an anything goes world.

    -sam

  2. Anonymous Anonymous 

    btw - thats a GREAT article on "pat answers". nothing pi$$es me off more than seeing some well-meaning (and sometimes i'm not so sure that's really true) soul give someone else a pat answer. pat answers reduce our faith to bubble gum.

    -sam

  3. Blogger CL 

    This touches much on what I was saying about our teaching. 1 - Let's teach by just being Jesus and the learning will begin. I get pretty upset when I am asked, "Do the teens know their Bibles?" usually by leadership. You know, suggesting that we have memorzation classes and programs like Bible bowls etc, (not dissing Bible bowls, OK I am) to me all of that misses the point that you are making GMAN. As soon as we live as Jesus among the people in our communities then our kids will "get it" and they may even start to understand their bibles better.

    2 - Sometimes I find myself spending a lot of time handing out pat answers for questions our teens; A - don't really know or understand and B - Really don't get the context because I have whipped it out of nowhere. So, I have started teaching almost exclusively with questions, the point is that it is giving our kids a chance to question who they are, who God is and how we should live in response to God and His goodness (discipleship). To me it's so much more than "knowing your Bible"

    OK another ramble, maybe it makes sense.

  4. Blogger The Thief 

    If you're defining "Bible-literate" as just being able to spout facts and figures, then it's not all that important. But if you're defining it as being "about God's story being a part of our story" then I definitely want students to be Bible literate.

    The more I read the Bible and grapple with it, the more I am amazed by the mystery that is God. That's what I want students to do. Not simply memorize the books of the Bible, but wrestle with the content.

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