Biblical Illiteracy: A Plague Upon the Church 1

Last summer in Southern California we had sky that was blood red from wildfires that were raging. I want you to picture with me a fireman standing near that wildfire, just watching it burn and doing nothing to stop it. Now we know that wouldn’t happen, but allow me to give you this illustration. In many ways the problem of biblical illiteracy in the Church is like the fireman standing on the periphery not fighting the wildfire. The sky turns blood red and the fire continues on raging. What should we do about the problem of biblical illiteracy?

The state of the Church today is the root of the problem of biblical illiteracy. First, you had the “seeker sensitive” movement—a drive that intended to reach people and to teach Christians to engage in evangelism. That’s a good thing, but what happened because of this movement was that churches began only focusing on reaching the lost at the expense of neglecting the discipleship of those who were already Christians. Because of this neglect, those Christians left the Church, because they saw no need for it. Now you have Christians who think it’s normal to have “church services” at their favorite coffee shops.

Next, fast-forward to the 1990’s—a new movement is developed, called the Emergent Church. The Emergent Church wanted to have a “conversation about making disciples”.  The problem was that their definition of “discipleship” was divorced from biblical doctrine—that is, teaching that comes from God’s Word. Since God’s Word (all sixty-six books of the Bible) is binding, sufficient, and for every sphere of the Christian life, there is no way that a conversation about discipleship can gain any traction apart from the Bible’s teaching.  So, what we witnessed was the Emergent Church walking away from the Bible’s teaching and the Bible itself.

Biblical illiteracy is not only a contemporary trend. Many people today think they know the Bible, or know facts about the Bible, and therefore consider themselves “spiritual”. But the problem with this so-called “spirituality” is that they meld their ideas from other religions and lump the Bible in with them. Not to mention this concept of keeping one’s faith to oneself, because “living and preaching faith publicly is not culturally acceptable”.

The main problem with biblical illiteracy, then, isn’t only out there in the Church, it’s also out there in the world. People may know lots of Bible facts and stories, but they don’t see those stories as having a unified whole in Christ, as the Bible teaches. Biblical illiteracy abounds like a wildfire raging. So, what do we do about this problem?

In this issue of Theology for Life we are aiming to help you to be grounded in the Bible and to have your life shaped by it so that you can be an effective servant of the Lord Jesus. See, as you’ll discover in this issue of our magazine, our faith is not meant to be private, it is corporate. Corporately as God’s people we are saved as a royal priesthood, a holy nation for a purpose to join together in local churches under God’s Word, and under the leadership of biblically qualified male elders.

As you read this issue, it’s my sincere prayer that you’ll rediscover the wonder of reading the Bible. The Bible is God’s love letter to us; it is how He communicates with us. If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible; if you want to hear Him speak out loud, read your Bible out loud.  Therefore, I encourage you to personally dig into the Bible; to read, study, meditate, memorize, and apply the Bible to your life. Next, do this corporately with God’s people on Sunday by listening to the sermon and “doing life” with the Body of Christ. I need you and you need me, and that’s why we need personal and corporate Bible reading. We cannot have one without the other to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

So, as you read this issue of Theology for Life, I sincerely pray you’ll be helped and that you’ll grow as a disciple, a student of Jesus, for God’s glory and the good of His people. That you will learn to serve others in love with whatever gifts, talents, and abilities God has given you.

In Christ Alone,

Dave Jenkins

Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine