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A Nation of Bible Illiterates
George Barna wrote The State of the Church in 2002. Barna conducted a survey of self-pronounced Christians and here’s what he found about their knowledge of the Bible. These are Christians.
• 48% could not name the four Gospels.
• 52% cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples.
• 60% of American Christians can’t name even five of the 10 Commandments.
• 61% of American Christians think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
• 71% of American Christians think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.
George Barna said, "Americans revere the Bible, but by and large they don’t know what it says. And because they don’t know it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates."
Just as the people in this Barna poll are woefully biblical illiterate, Christians are far too ignorant of the Word of God. No wonder 21st century Christians are failing to finish their marathon race. No wonder Christians by the thousands are falling prey to the false teachers of our day. They are being feed junk food and don’t feed themselves on the Word of God. They are desperately in need of a solid diet of good food, Scripture. We need to get into "spiritual shape"!
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.
IT'S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
According to the Stanford Research Institute, the money made in any endeavor is determined only 12.5% by knowledge, and 87.5% by your ability to deal with people. 68% of customers quit shopping with you because of an attitude of indifference toward them by an employee. ...
This religion of me and thee, as George Gallup, Jr. calls it, along with a hunger for experience over knowledge, has contributed to a tremendous diversity of beliefs, many of which are antithetical to biblical principles. These unhealthy attitudes have crept into the church, as evidenced by the following results of a survey of church lay leaders by researcher George Barna:
· only 53 percent believe that there are moral truths that are absolute
· 43 percent say there is no such thing as the Holy Spirit
· 33 percent believe that Jesus never had a physical resurrection
· 19 percent believe Jesus sinned while on earth.
Source: "Lost in America" by Tom Clegg and Warren Bird
There is no better opportunity for any adult to impact this world, than to develop strong Christian relationships with and through their children.
A survey was taken among parents. The point was to record the negative and positive statements they made to their children in the course of a day. The result was that for every single positive statement made, parents also averaged 10 negative ones. (3)
In a Florida city, teachers were found to be negative in their communication 75% of the time. This in light of the knowledge that it takes 4 positive statements to overcome the effect of one negative statement.
--Institute of Family Relations, (As reprinted in Homemade, September, 1991)
LIVING TOGETHER AND DIVORCE
A recent study by the Penn State University interviewed 92 couples found, in general, those who lived together before marriage were
• more verbally aggressive,
• more hostile and
• less supportive than those who waited until marriage to live together.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 70 percent of those who lived together for at least five years did eventually walk down the aisle. But these marriages were also more likely to break up. After 10 years, 40 percent of couples that had lived together before marriage had broken up. That’s a higher percentage of divorce than those who didn’t live together first experienced. (msn.com July 24, 2002)
Wade Horn, a marriage expert at the Department of Health and Human Services explains:
"When living together, the attitude is ’I vow to stay together with you as long as you make me happy.’ In a marriage, people focus on making their partners happy. If you’re used to viewing being together as a test of the other person’s ability to take care of your needs, once you get married it’s hard to just switch that."
Back in 1998, I read an intriguing article by a woman named Mary Roach wrote this in magazine "Health" (quoted in Digest, 12/98 p. 162ff) She wrote:
"I used to balk at the idea of life-long fidelity. But what did I gain for my freedom of living with a man for 13 years? The heart leaping off a cliff and flying through the air. And shortly thereafter, hitting the ground. Heart pulp. Guilt and regret. The knowledge that, by refusing to commit myself to a relationship, I destroyed it.
"Something I failed to grasp is that all marriages are group marriages. I am marrying a man; his delightful, beautiful children; his warm, welcoming parents, his sister, his cousins, their families. A whole clan of hearts and minds that wants me to sign on. What could be more wonderful? Would I belong if we simply lived together? Past experience says, not really. To share a house with someone but not marry sends a message – to him, to our families, to everyone. It says, ’I love this man, but I’m not sure he is it. That’s a message I don’t wish to send anymore.
"Of course, no marriage comes with guarantees. But you have to go into it believing...that this is it, for better and worse, for richer and poorer, liver spots and arthritis. If you do this, the what-ifs of divorce are moot."
(From a sermon by Jeff Strite, "Welcome to the Wedding Feast" 2/23/2009)
The Progress of Knowledge -- The mental sign is seen first in the progress of knowledge. Man’s knowledge doubles in less than 6 years. By the time many medical students graduate, much of their earlier training is already obsolete. Printed material doubles in less than 15 years. Technology, for example, has developed the laser beam, a concentration of energy in a pinpoint of light. It is now used in various forms of surgeries, sometime requiring no incisions at all.
Computers now exist that can assimilate all 850,000 words of the Bible five times over in one second. Computer chips, no larger than the fingernail of a little finger, can store millions of items of information. There is a calculator that can make over 1 million calculations in one second. And who would have thought in the late ...
Grant van Boeschoten
• Are the most complex organs you possess except for your brain.
• Are composed of more than two million working parts.
• Can process 36,000 bits of information every hour.
• Under the right conditions, can discern the light of a candle at a distance of 22.5 km (14 miles)
• Contribute towards 85% of your total knowledge.
• Utilize 65% of all the pathways to the brain.
• Can instantaneously set in motion hundreds of muscles and organs in your body.
• In a normal life-span, will bring you almost 24 million images of the world around you.
• The eye is the only part of the human body that can function at 100% ability at any moment, day or night, without rest. Your eyelids need rest, the external muscles of your eyes need rest, the lubrication of your eyes requires replenishment, but your eyes themselves "never" need rest.
God did such an amazing job at creating our eyes, but he never intended that we would trust our eyes more than we would trust our God.
Just as schools teach reading, writing and arithmetic, Boston University's Stephen Prothero thinks religion ought to become the "4th R" of American education. He notes although 90% of people in the U.S. claim they are Christian, only a few know anything about religion. Only 10% of American teens can name all five major world religions, while 15% cannot name even one. About two-thirds of adult Americans believe the Bible holds the answers to all or most of life's basic questions, yet, only half can name one of the four gospels, and most do not know the first book in the Bible is Genesis. Prothero stresses the importance of having at least a general knowledge of religion to better confront the domestic and foreign challenges facing the U.S. (Religious Liberty, Stephen Prothero, Harper Collins, 2007)