Thursday, August 16, 2007

Biblical Illiteracy: Spiritual Starvation Facing the Church

These days, an ailment is eating away at the Church; from the inside. The symptoms include a misunderstanding of the nature of God, a seemed inability to think critically and apply Scripture, increased involvement in and tolerance of worldliness, and perhaps most of all, a view of man as, somehow, less than absolutely sinful and in need of Grace.

Diagnosis: widespread Biblical illiteracy.

Why must a working use of Scripture be important to a Christ-follower? Because it is our tangible resource through which God chose to reveal His Truth!

Paul speaks of using the importance of using the Bible in 1 Timothy 4:13, Until I come, give public attention to the reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

In 2 Timothy 3: 15-17, the importance of the Bible is mentioned again:

and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.

Logically, when we as the Church are separated from the revelation of God (not the apocalyptic book but the Scripture in its entirety), we have no tangible resource of the standard by which to live. Though Paul tells Timothy to "give public attention" to the use of scripture, the fact remains that a large number of American Evangelicals don't even know that this imperative is internally located in the Word itself.

What does a missing standard (Biblical illiteracy) look like?
  1. Lack of expository (or topical, drawing upon a firm scriptural basis) preaching
  2. Church services that are designed based on "entertainment value", or what the congregation wants to hear
  3. Children in the church being subtly "taken over" by Postmodern thought
  4. The young adults and sometimes mature adults being tossed about by the various "winds and whims" of thought
  5. Ineffective evangelism
  6. An inability to address and/or deal with the presence of sin within the Church

...Just to name a few.

The passage from 2 Tim 3 sums it up concisely and perfectly:

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (emphasis mine)

In conclusion, without a working literacy of Scripture, we are all dooming ourselves to spiritual starvation.

Note: All quoted scripture is taken from the NET Bible (New English Translation)

1 comment:

Tim said...

I hate to say it, but some popular Christian literature contributes to the illiteracy. In The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren routinely uses absolutely dreadful free-association paraphrases of Scripture -- and puts them in quotation marks. He even has a "quotation" from C. S. Lewis that is a distorted paraphrase. And he puts it in quotation marks.

At some point, the Christian world will have to wake up and stop purveying intellectual junk food. The sooner, the better.