Download

 

Is the Bible true? Does it ever err? And does its morality still matter? Many Christians ask these questions in a sincere effort to grow in their faith, but others, armed with common claims of biblical contradictions, scientific inaccuracies, and outdated sexual morality, do so out of sheer unbelief. Despite these questions being sufficiently answered on numerous occasions, still, they persist.

Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: “Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.” How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.

Fewer than half of all adults can name the four Gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60% of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president of the firm. The bottom line? “Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate.”[i]

A recent study conducted by Lifeway Research and sponsored by Ligonier Ministries produced a study called The State of Theology. This report tells us a lot about contemporary evangelicals and their beliefs. On one part of this study, they asked responders to agree or disagree to the statement, “The Bible alone is the written Word of God.” Thirty percent agreed strongly, 18 agreed somewhat, 19 percent disagree somewhat, 19 percent disagree strongly, and 12 percent aren’t sure. Self-identified evangelicals who attend church once a month or more (79%) are more likely to Strongly Agree than other Christians (27%) and Non-Christians (11%). Evangelicals (62%) are more likely to Strongly Agree than Black Protestants (46%), Catholics (17%), and Mainlines (22%).[ii] The next part of the study considered the following statement, “The Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches.” 27 percent agreed strongly with this statement, 16 agreed somewhat, 21 percent disagreed somewhat, 25 percent disagree strongly, and 12 percent aren’t sure (16). Self-identified evangelicals who attend church once a month or more (78%) are more likely to Strongly Agree than Other Christians (23%) and Non-Christians (9%). Evangelicals (61%) are more likely to Strongly Agree than Black Protestants (43%), Catholics (12%), and Mainlines (17%).[iii]

In addition to these alarming statics, we are living in a time when biblical illiteracy is at epidemic levels. In this issue of Theology for Life Magazine, you will learn the art and skill of hermeneutics. Along the way, you will learn how to engage biblical interpretation and discover how it affects your Christian life and ministry.

The need for Christians to understand the art and skill of biblical interpretation has never been greater in the history of the Church. We are living in a time defined by the Oxford dictionary as an era of “post-truth”, where everyone claims “my truth, and I will stand by it.” Such claims though don’t pass the smell test. For truth to stand, it must be based not upon what we feel, which is fickle, but on objective truth. In a post-truth era, Christians stand firm not on “my truth and I’ll stand on it”, but on the objective standard and authority of the Word. As Christians, we believe this truth wholeheartedly and are called to mine its depth to proclaim it’s riches to the world.

To interpret the Bible rightly, we must believe the right things about it—namely that it is the inspired, inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative Word. For this to happen, God must take our hearts of stone and replace it with a new heart, with new desires, and affections for Himself. In this process, He gives us the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Truth who points His people to the truth about Jesus, convicts them of that truth, and helps them to love and walk in the truth.

Everyone, regardless of their education, can learn to read and interpret the Bible well. It is our hope with this issue that you will be equipped to read, study, and interpret the Bible well so that you will grow in your walk with the Lord.

[i] The State of the Bible Six Trends for 2014, 8 April, 2014, accessed December 2016. http://www.barna.com/research/the-state-of-the-bible-6-trends-for-2014/#.VkZeQr9xJpu

[iii] Ibid.

Disclaimer: Uploading the content of this magazine onto another website is not permitted. You are permitted to share links from the articles and this post on your social media channels. If you have questions please email dave@servantsofgrace.org.

*****************

Articles

  • Editorial by Dave Jenkins
  • The Five Biblical Basics of Biblical Interpretation by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Hermeneutics, Preaching, and the Problem of Biblical Illiteracy by Jason Garwood. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Doing Investigative Theology: Asking Proper Questions of the Biblical Text by Mike Boling. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Walking with Jesus through His Word Discovering Christ in All the Scriptures reviewed by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Reading the Bible with Family by Mike Boling. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Biblical Meditation as Experiential Reading by Jason Garwood. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What to Do About It Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  •  The Need for Word Studies by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • How to Lead a Small Group Bible Study by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Collected Writings on Scripture. Reviewed by Mike Boling. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • The Bible and the Interpreter by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Reading the Bible for Personal Devotion. by Dave Jenkins Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • What is Bible Preaching? By David Steele. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  •  Drinking Deeply from the Fountain of Biblical Theology By David Schrock. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Reading the Bible with the Church by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Three Keys to Sermon Listening and Note-Taking by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • The Illuminating Work of the Holy Spirit in Daily Bible Reading and Discipleship by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • The History of Interpretation and Current Approaches To The Bible by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  •  The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures reviewed by Mike Boling. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Preaching Christ in All of Scripture (Edmund P. Clowney) reviewed by Zach Barnhart. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • The Scripture Cannot be Broken: Twentieth Century Writings on the Doctrine of Inerrancy reviewed by Mike Boling. Read the article in PDF or Web.
  • Recommended Reading on the Art and Science of Biblical Interpretation. Read the article in PDF or Web.