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Recent studies find that students who possess high levels of Bible knowledge achieve at higher academic levels and are more likely to demonstrate positive behavior patterns than those with lower levels. The difference in GPA between students high vs. low in Bible literacy was 3.60 vs. 2.47. In a separate study the GPA difference was 3.31 versus 2.91. “These results indicate that efforts to introduce the Bible as literature courses in public schools will likely yield positive academic benefits.” The primary reason is simple. It is probably impossible to be an educated American unless one has a solid knowledge of the Bible. It is the most published and cited book in Religion News Service 4/24/07
GENERATIONS AND THE BIBLE
A new research report from the Barna Group examines recent nationwide studies on how different generations of American adults view and use the Bible. For the purposes of this research, the Mosaic generation refers to adults who are currently ages 18 to 25; Busters are those ages 26 to 44; Boomers are 45 to 63; and Elders are 64-plus.
There is often more that unites the various generations than divides them. The Barna research regarding the Bible confirms the central role this revered text has for most Americans. A majority of each of the four generations believes that the Bible is a sacred or holy book. Another commonality is that millions within each of the generations report reading the pages of Scripture in the last week.
There is also significant generational overlap regarding people’s views on the nature of the Bible. Similar proportions of the generations embrace the most conservative and most liberal views. For instance, the highest view of the Bible is that it is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word, is embraced by one-quarter of Mosaics (27%), Busters (27%), and Boomers (23%), and one-third of Elders (34%). The extreme view on the other end is that the Bible is not inspired by God is embraced by proportions that are also statistically close to one another, including Mosaics (25%), Busters (19%), Boomers (22%), and Elders (22%).
However, despite these similarities, the Barna studies show that the youngest generations are charting a new, unique course related to the Bible. Here are the types of changes being forged by young adults:
Less Sacred: While most Americans of all ages identify the Bible as sacred, the drop-off among the youngest adults is striking: 9 out of 10 Boomers and Elders described the Bible as sacred, which compares to 8 out of 10 Busters (81%) and just 2 out of 3 Mosaics (67%).
¡öLess Accurate ¨C Young adults are significantly less likely than older adults to strongly agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Just 30% of Mosaics and 39% of Busters firmly embraced this view, compared with 46% of Boomers and 58% of Elders.
More Universalism: Among Mosaics, a majority (56%) believes the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other sacred texts, which compares with 4 out of 10 Busters and Boomers, and one-third of Elders.
Skepticism of Origins: Another generational difference is that 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. In particular, Busters and Mosaics are less likely than average to have spent time alone in the last week praying and reading the Bible for at least 15 minutes. Interestingly, none of the four generations were particularly likely to say they aspired to read the Bible more as a means of improving their spiritual lives.
Bible Appetite: Despite the generational decline in many Bible metrics, one departure from the typical pattern is the fact that younger adults, especially Mosaics (19%), express a slightly above-average interest in gaining additional Bible knowledge. This compares with 12% of Boomers and 9% of Elders.
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.
The president of the Barna Group pointed out that since many young people want to learn about the Bible it should be an opportunity for Christian leaders.Perhaps young people want to participate more in the process of learning, not simply attend Bible lectures or be trained in classrooms. Mosaics and Busters have come to expect experiences that appear unscripted and interactive, that allow them to be open and honest with their questions, that are technologically stimulating, that are done alongside peers and within trusted relationships, and that give them the chance to be creative and visual. Their expectations may or may not be entirely healthy, but without considering these issues, the Bible will continue to lose hold on the next generation.
John Stott in Authentic Christianity noted: "We need to repent of the haughty way in which we sometimes stand in judgment upon Scripture and must learn to sit humbly under its judgments instead. If we come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the thunderclap of God’s, then indeed he will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior."
A. Todd Coget
Unused Spiritual Resources
During Superbowl XXXVII, FedEx ran a commercial that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years. Looking like the bedraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.
When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives a simple, "Thank you."
But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for years. He says, "If I may ask, what was in that package after all?"
She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, "Oh, n...
THE BEST NEWS NO ONE HEARD
Take the year 1809. The international scene was tumultuous. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria; blood was flowing freely. Nobody then cared about babies. But the world was overlooking some terribly significant births.
For example, William Gladstone was born that year. He was destined to become one of England's finest statesman. That same year, Alfred Tennyson was born to an obscure minister and his wife. The child would one day greatly affect the literary world in a marked manner.
On the American continent, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And not far away in Boston, Edgar Allan Poe began his eventful, albeit tragic, life. It was also in that same year that a physician named Darwin and his wife named their child Charles Robert. And that same year produced the cries of a newborn infant in a rugged log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. The baby's name? Abraham Lincoln.
If there had been news broadcasts at that time, I'm certain these words would have been heard: "The destiny of the world is being shaped on an Austrian battlefield today. But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America. Similarly, everyone thought taxation was the big news when Jesus was born. But a young Jewish woman cradled the biggest news of all: the birth of the Savior.
(Adapted from Charles Swindoll. From Nathan Johnson's Sermon "Great News for Everyone")
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org
Sermon Central Staff
THE WORD OF GOD--THE OWNER'S MANUAL
As a kid, I remember a very popular game. Simon Says. Usually played at school or parties, several of us would do whatever "Simon" told us to do, as long as it was preceded by the phrase: "Simon Says".
It seems to me that we have become a society of "Simon Says" players, living life by the whims and desires of others. Just look at the commercials, TV programs and music icons that continuously tell us what to do, how to dress, what to drive...and even what to look like. Bordering on the dangerous, some men and women even go to the extreme and tell us to do treacherous things all together.
The biggest danger in this lifestyle is that we (the followers) do not question the commands. We allow them to become a "normal" part of life in every detail. Such is the 21st century in America. We have become a nation of conformists, a nation of men and women who have become so lazy, we allow complete strangers to think for us. I remember the days when everyone read books frequently. Not just as a school project, but as a way of life. Now a days, very few people read books. We get our knowledge from TV shows, books on audio, the Internet. Some of which is good, and necessary. However, in the important things in life, why do we allow others to make decisions for us and to tell us what to do? Do we not have a God-given brain? Can we not process information for ourselves? Do we really need the media and mainstream America to tell us how to live our lives. What is good and what is bad?
I used to have 1982 Volkswagen Golf. It was cute car and I liked the engineering. I am not a mechanic, so when the car broke down, I would take it to an expert. Not just a mechanic, but also a foreign car specialist. You see this car was a Wolf berg edition made in Germany and I new that a mechanic could probably fix it and the key word here is "probably". But I was certain that the experience and know-how of the foreign car specialist would definitely find the problem and fix it forever. Boy was I wrong! Yes, the specialist was better at fixing my car, and more expensive too. But the best mechanic on this car turned out to be me. Yes...you heard me; I actually became better at diagnosing the problem and getting it fixed than the mechanic or the specialist. How did I do it? Well I purchased the official Volkswagen Golf 1982 Wolf berg edition car manual. The men and women who designed the vehicle and put it together in Germany wrote this manual. I read it from cover to cover. Every time the car had a symptom, I would go to the troubleshooting section of the manual and read. Eventually I became so familiar with my vehicle that I could listen to the engine and know exactly what it needed. I would take it to the mechanic (the cheaper one) and just for fun I would see what he told me. "It needs a new transmission" or "The power steering gears have stripped, we must replace it". Then I would continue to tell the mechanic my diagnosis of the problem. Usually something like "I think the battery you installed yesterday is not grounded, that is why the car jerks and shakes when accelerated" Problem fixed.
In our spiritual life, God has given us the "official manual". We need to read it from cover to cover and go to the troubleshooting guide when we have problems.
(From a sermon by Eduardo Quintana, "Simon Says": Christian, 10/20/2009)
Fr Mund Cargill Thompson
"Some Wines are weak and have no effect on you, but the word of God is strong wine ... and gets you drunk."
--Humbert of Romans, a 13th century Dominican preacher
In a former church I served, a mother started reading the Bible to her young son. A few weeks later they were reading from the Gospel of John. When she read John 3:16, her son commented, "Oh, I know this. This is an old one..." Being familiar with a Scripture can do that to us. We can "know" it so well that we feel we know all there is to know about it. And we find ourselves blinded to a God-inspired meaning we are intended to find within the passage.
Some time ago, I was reading my daily devotion. That day’s Scripture was the prodigal son. In my years of ministry, I have preached on this text many times. I’ve studied the passage. I’ve read commentaries on its meaning. I’ve outlined the message. Do you know what I found myself doing that morning? I said, "Oh, I know this. It’s an old one." An...
Fr Mund Cargill Thompson
"A church that does not listen for God in the Bible and treat the Bible as the unique touchstone of truth about God and about us is losing its identity, it’s raison d’etre."
--Rowan Williams, current Archbishop of Canterbury
Sermon Central Staff
THE BIBLE IS A SURVIVOR
The inspiration of the Bible is seen in its unique survival. All through history it has been a hated book for certain people because of its claim to be the word of the living God. But in spite of all attempts at times by emperors, dictators and totalitarian governments to destroy it by burning, confiscation and the imprisonment and persecution of those who read it and preach it, all such attempts have miserably failed-—this remarkable book is still with us and is as widely dispersed as ever.
During the Stalin era in Russia, the Marxist government derided the Bible as a book full of legends, myths, and old wives’ tales. It even established an anti-Bible museum in Moscow to try and convince the people. Yet for all their derision, the authorities were so desperately afraid that people would read it and believe it, that they put them in prison and in labour camps for doing so. Why? Because they knew that this unique book had the power to change people’s lives (Williams, P. (2007). Opening up 2 Timothy (83–84). Leominster: Day One Publications).
(From a sermon by Matthew Kratz,Pursuing Gold in Bible Study, 1/24/2010)