Guess what? This is National Bible Week, the one time each year when US Christians unite to give three cheers for the Good Book. I’m all for that. There’s only one problem. It doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference.
The most recent evidence came this fall when The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released the results of a major survey on religious knowledge in the United States. Among many questions about religion, participants were asked about their basic Bible knowledge. When all the data was tabulated, the findings were surprising:
- A higher percentage of Mormons could name all four Gospels than Evangelicals
- A majority of Protestants couldn’t identify who Job was
- Atheists and agnostics scored higher than Christians in overall Bible knowledge
That’s not good. The question is, how should Christians respond? Should we all get copies of The Bible for Dummies so we can pull ahead in the next survey? Maybe. But I think a better response would be to begin planning now for a different kind of National Bible Week next year. Here’s what I’d suggest.
First, let’s start with a press conference to confess that the church has lost touch with its own Book. Second, let’s all take a vow, that’s right, an old fashioned vow (Psalm 116:14), not to buy another Bible until we’ve read through one we already have. Finally, let’s announce a 10-year effort to get more church-goers reading the Bible. If we really want to ignite a Bible reading revival, that’s what it’ll take.
But does that mean we should forget about sharing God’s Word with a needy world? Not at all! I’m convinced the best way to get non-believers into the Bible is not to post the 10 Commandments in the courthouse, or to fight for Bible reading in the public schools, or even to give out Bibles on the street corner. Rather, it’s for believers to become passionate about reading and living God’s Word themselves. When that happens, the church will have the spiritual credibility and power to say “come and join us.” I can’t wait for that kind of National Bible Week in 2011. How about you?